Conservatives have lost the moral authority to govern, former PMO lawyer says
Benjamin Perrin, former legal adviser for the Prime Minister's Office, arrives at the courthouse in Ottawa for his second day of testimony at the trial of Mike Duffy, on Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. (Justin Tang / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Jennifer Ditchburn, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, October 18, 2015 3:16PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, October 18, 2015 6:54PM EDT
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -- The former lawyer for the Prime Minister's Office says the Conservative government has lost the moral authority to govern, and he's voting for change this election.
Benjamin Perrin says in a statement that based on what he's personally seen and experienced, he felt there was no other choice but to abandon his lifelong Conservative vote.
"Last week, I voted in an advance poll for change," Perrin said in a statement sent to The Canadian Press.
"As a lifelong conservative I never thought that would happen. But after what I've personally seen and experienced, there was no other choice. The current government has lost its moral authority to govern."
Perrin is currently a University of British Columbia law professor, on parental leave. He lives in the Vancouver Kingsway riding. He did not specify for whom he cast a ballot, but said he voted "strategically."
Perrin worked in the PMO back in 2012-13, and was part of the staff that dealt with the scandal surrounding Sen. Mike Duffy's contested living expenses.
But Perrin very publicly broke ranks with the government this August when he testified at Duffy's fraud and breach of trust trial -- Duffy has pleaded not guilty to 31 charges.
He said that Harper's most senior aide Ray Novak was told during a meeting about former chief of staff Nigel Wright's secret repayment of Duffy's $90,000 in expenses.
"Because it was so surprising to me, I immediately looked to my right to see Mr. Novak's reaction and he didn't have any reaction to that information," Perrin said during his testimony.
Novak, who currently works as a senior campaign director, has denied that he knew; and Harper has backed his version of events.
Perrin also testified that he disagreed with Harper's assertion that an individual who owned $4,000 worth of property in a province met the constitutional requirement for representing that province in the Senate.
Unhappiness with the Conservative party's national campaign has been bubbling away behind the scenes for weeks, mainly centred around the feeling that the party was under-prepared for the election in areas such as local training and candidate vetting.
Novak and campaign manager Jenni Byrne, who originally had been travelling with Harper, were sent back to the party's Ottawa war room after a bumpy post-Labour Day week.
Senior politicians and activists who have spoken to The Canadian Press in recent days have said they are expecting a poor result on Monday, particularly in Ontario.
Those who believe the party will still eke out a minority win predict there will still be a reckoning afterward with those who ran the campaign.