Stephen Harper says staffers such as Ray Novak enjoy his confidence

Stephen Harper says the people who work for him enjoy his confidence, otherwise they wouldn’t be on his staff.

OTTAWA — Stephen Harper says the people who work for him enjoy his confidence, otherwise they wouldn’t be on his staff.

That was the prime minister’s answer when he was asked if he stands by chief of staff, Ray Novak.

Recent testimony in the Mike Duffy fraud trial has more closely linked Novak to the controversial $90,000 payment to Duffy in 2013 by Harper’s previous chief of staff, Nigel Wright.

Harper reiterated today during a campaign stop in King Township, Ont. north of Toronto that he holds only Duffy and Wright responsible for any wrongdoing.

“I’ve been very clear. When people are working for me, they have my confidence. If they didn’t have my confidence, they wouldn’t be working for me. And in this case I have held the two people accountable who are responsible,” Harper said.

“And I’m not going to go around holding everybody else accountable for their actions.”

The revelations from the Duffy trial have forced Harper to answer questions about the affair for the last week.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair was asked what he makes of Harper’s comments about Novak.

“I found the prime minister’s qualifier revealing,” he said in Vancouver.

“(Harper) said people who work for him have his confidence while they work for him, so I don’t know what that means long-term for any of the people who are working for him.”

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, campaigning in Victoria, was asked if Harper should trust Novak.

“The issue of trust is at the heart of what we are seeing come from the Duffy trial and, indeed, from the prime minister’s behaviour over the past weeks, months and even years,” he said.

“Canadians no longer trust their prime minister to tell them the truth. So whatever it is that he says, his loss of integrity in his office is something that Canadians are not soon going to forget and is one of the big reasons why Canadians need real change.”

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