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In another round of questions in Parliament prompted by a National Observer investigation, the official opposition asked for explanations about why Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in contact with Senator Mike Duffy about Enbridge pipeline matters in early 2012.
Victoria MP Murray Rankin rose first for the NDP:
"Mr. Speaker, evidence from the trial of former Conservative senator Mike Duffy has given rise to new questions about the Prime Minister's Office and its involvement in unreported lobbying and communications between Mike Duffy and Enbridge executives,” said Rankin.
"Why did the prime minister ask Mike Duffy to send him a note on 'Enbridge Line 9 problems' on February 17, 2012? What was contained in the note Mr. Duffy sent to the prime minister's chief of staff and Enbridge executives on February 20 of that year?”
Rising for Stephen Harper, was the prime minister’s parliamentary secretary.
"Mr. Speaker, I completely reject the premise of the question and I will not comment on matters that are in front of the court,” said Conservative MP Paul Calandra.
"The member could help me and Canadians recover the $2.7 million that the NDP owes them for illegal offices. That is $2.7 million that 68 members of the NDP caucus owe the Canadian taxpayers and I actually have not gone into the $1.1 million it owes for illegal advertising as well. Perhaps in a supplementary we could talk about that."
The Harper government was asked a further question about why Duffy’s diary indicated that Duffy spoke directly with the prime minister about Enbridge projects on April 4, 2012. But Conservatives responded with more accusations about the NDP's spending.
The political attacks and counterattacks in Ottawa came as Enbridge's spokesperson told media outlets on Friday that its contacts with Senator Duffy regarding its multi-billion dollar pipelines were “unsolicited” and therefore did not need to be disclosed to the public lobbying registry.
Senate critic and NDP MP Charlie Angus called the company's explanation "odd," saying Enbridge made it sound like the company was being pestered by Duffy about its pipelines.
The suspended senator’s journal shows a flurry of conversations and emails with or about top-level Enbridge executives, then-PMO chief of staff Nigel Wright, and Stephen Harper between January and June of 2012— just as the National Energy Board began hearings on the hotly-contested Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.
The Lobbying Act requires companies to disclose its contact with Canadian senators.
Enbridge also said it complained to Prime Minister Harper about Duffy’s unsolicited efforts to represent its interests. The company has not stated when, or how, it made the complaint.
Enbridge has not responded to requests for media comment.