The prime minister’s chief of staff Ray Novak says he did not know that his predecessor, Nigel Wright, was going to give Mike Duffy a personal cheque for $90,000 to repay questionable Senate expenses.
CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife spoke Friday morning with Novak, who has been out of the public eye for more than a week. Fife caught up with the PM’s aide as he made his way to the Conservative campaign office, and asked him whether he knew about the $90,000.
Novak at first indicated that, because Mike Duffy’s trial is underway, it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to comment.
When pressed further, Novak told Fife: “Bob, I did not know that Mr. Wright was going to cut that cheque. Beyond that, I will speak at the appropriate time. Now is not the appropriate time.”
Fife then asked Novak if he had read the email in which Wright informed him that he was sending the $90,000 cheque.
“No I did not see that email, Bob,” Novak replied. “I first saw that email when it was disclosed much, much later.”
Conservative sources say that when the RCMP showed Novak that email, he offered his resignation to Harper, who refused to accept it.
Last week, former PMO lawyer Benjamin Perrin testified at Duffy’s criminal trial that Novak, who was then Harper’s principal secretary, was present on two occasions in 2013 when Wright’s payment was discussed.
That contradicts assertions from Harper and the Conservative campaign about what Novak knew about the repayment scheme.