Friday, August 14, 2015

The impact of the Duffy trial on the election

The trial has progressed to the really critical bits.  Gone are the housekeeping days where the workings of the Senate and its byzantine expense rules were the main topics.

Now we are getting down to the real trial where the main characters behind the Senate expense scandal have to testify under oath.  Mr. Wright is the first and some of what he has stated is quite enlightening.

He has only been on the stand for three days but I am already seeing some pundits stating that the trial will not have an impact on the election.

What these pundits are forgetting is the trial is still in prosecution phase.  Mr. Duffy's lawyer has not yet launched his defence.

Since Mr. Bayne's defence seems to be to depict Mr. Duffy as someone who made an honest mistake, navigating the convoluted Senate expense rules, and then got caught up in the PMO's "scheme" to prevent such errors from embarrassing the government I would imagine that Mr. Bayne will be seeking to introduce evidence to back up that defence when his turn rolls around.

At that point things should really get interesting for the Conservatives.  I would imagine that frequent revelations about the machinations of the PMO during an election campaign it not good news for them.

The trial has the potential to become a running sore on the hide of the Conservative campaign as weeks of revelations are disseminated to the public. At best those revelations will distract from the Conservative election message and at worst they will put them on the defensive for weeks at a time during the campaign.  That cannot be a happy prospect for an incumbent government trying to overcome a desire for change.  As well, it is an open question on how Mr. Harper will react.  He is a well known control freak so his reaction to having journalists ask questions about the latest evidence coming out of the trial, instead of the Conservative announcement of the day could be interesting.

Then there is the fodder being produced by the trial that could be used by the Liberals and the NDP in election ads.  Mr. Wright gave them some rather juicy quotes and more will probably be forthcoming in the coming weeks.

We cannot overestimate the impact of the trial on the election but we also cannot dismiss the trial as never going to have an impact either like some pundits are currently doing.  

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