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Updated: Tue, 29 Oct 2013 22:30:26 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Angry Harper lashes back over Senate scandal questions



Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the party regularly reimburses members of its caucus for valid legal expenses, a day after Mike Duffy dropped a second bombshell in the Senate saying Harper's former chief of staff arranged to have his legal expenses paid on top of the $90,000 cheque. Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the party regularly reimburses members of its caucus for valid legal expenses, a day after Mike Duffy dropped a second bombshell in the Senate saying Harper's former chief of staff arranged to have his legal expenses paid on top of the $90,000 cheque. Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press

Growing visibly more angry with every allegation coming from a senator that he appointed, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said during question period on Tuesday that Mike Duffy has shown no remorse for claiming ineligible expenses and should be removed from the Senate.

Harper's remarks came a day after the former Conservative dropped a second bombshell, saying there was not one but two cheques cut to him by Harper's former chief of staff.

Duffy told the Senate on Monday that Nigel Wright, Harper's former chief of staff, arranged to have his legal fees paid by the Conservative Party — in addition to the $90,000 cheque Wright gave Duffy to repay his ineligible expenses.

"The reality is," Harper said on Tuesday, "that Mr. Duffy still has not paid a cent back to the taxpayers of Canada. He should be paying that money back."

"The fact that he hasn't, the fact that he shows absolutely no regret for his actions, and the fact that he has told untruths about his actions means that he should be removed from the public payroll," Harper said.

The prime minister has maintained all along that he knew nothing about the $90,000 cheque that his right-hand man gave to Duffy.

On Tuesday, the prime minister took direct aim at his former chief of staff, telling the Commons, "On our side, there is one person responsible for this deception. That person is Mr. Wright."

"It is Mr. Wright by his own admission. For that reason, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Wright no longer works for us. Mr. Duffy shouldn't either," Harper said.

The prime minister did not, however, deny on Tuesday that the party cut Duffy a second cheque to cover his legal fees.

"That is a regular practice. The party regularly reimburses members of its caucus for valid legal expenses — as do other parties," Harper said.

Duffy's claim that he had paid back his ineligible expenses using his own funds was "the story of Mr. Duffy and Mr. Wright," Harper said. 

"Mr. Duffy should be removed from the Senate."

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair continued to pepper the prime minister with sharp questions on Tuesday.

If Duffy's expenses were "inappropriate," as Harper said again Tuesday, why did the Conservative Party pay for the senator's legal fees? Mulcair asked.

Harper did not directly answer the question, saying only that he has said "it was inappropriate all along."

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