In a strange twist of fate, one-time pundit Mike Duffy is now the subject of the punditry, after his former employer CTV News reported that the senator received a $90,000 personal cheque from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff Nigel Wright in order to cover inappropriate housing allowance claims he made during his time as a Conservative senator.
News also came to light Wednesday that Duffy may have been making more questionable claims, saying he was on Senate business while actually campaigning and fundraising for the Conservative party during the 2011 federal election.
So, should Duffy resign? Opposition members certainly think so, as do many opinion writers and newspaper editorials. Here’s a roundup of what the press said today:
Before he became a senator, Mike Duffy was a reporter, and a good one. If reporter Mike Duffy were chasing the story about the remarkable gift that Senator Mike Duffy received from Nigel Wright, the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, to repay living and travel expenses, here are the questions that reporter Mike Duffy might ask Mr. Wright…
Your job is to keep the government on track and on message. Haven’t you just derailed those efforts by your own actions?
To expand on that, your decision has embroiled you, your office, the Prime Minister and the Senate in a controversy that will dog this government for weeks to come, inevitably damaging its credibility. Given that your judgment in this affair has been so questionable, should you offer your resignation? Or have you already? If so what did the Prime Minister say?
It is good that the public purse has been repaid promptly, thanks to Mr. Wright, but the senator’s own behaviour remains troubling, pathetic and in need of more scrutiny. Senator Duffy did something wrong, and many will conclude that he should be paying a greater penalty than he has.
Yet the prime minister’s office claims Duffy showed “leadership” in arranging for Wright to repay his expenses, that indeed it was “the right thing to do.” Well, no. The right thing would have been not to file the false expense claims in the first place. The right thing, once they came to light, would have been to give the money back pronto, not stall for months and stonewall the auditors. The right thing would have been to decline Wright’s charity, or at the very least to have disclosed the payment publicly.
And, as it is now well established that he is not resident in the province he represents, in violation of the constitutional requirement to that effect, the right thing would be to resign.
This doesn’t look good on Sen. Duffy. It’s enough to make you wonder what Sen. Duffy, a guy who was a high-profile TV journalist for decades and now makes a cool $132,000 a year, plus what he wrongly took, has been doing with all the money. It’s also enough to make you wonder what else Mr. Wright and Sen. Duffy agreed to. Surely no one accepts that the cheque was handed over without conditions? And did the Prime Minister know that his Chief of Staff was personally bailing out Conservatives who’d broken the rules and raided the public cookie jar?
…Indeed, facing the prospect of the PMO itself becoming embroiled in scandal, the Tories may rapidly decide it’s time to cut Sen. Duffy loose.
Honesty and Mike Duffy appear to be total strangers.
…To suggest the situation smells is an understatement. It stinks to high heaven, and the odour is spreading. It has now infected the PMO and is closing in on Mr. Harper. All this effort, all this dissembling, on behalf of a senator of no particular renown who got caught in a web of his own making and refuses to own up and take his medicine. Why would the PMO bother? It’s not even clear, given his questionable residence, that Mr. Duffy qualifies to sit as a senator representing Canada’s smallest province.
The Conservatives should be very worried about the Mike Duffy scandal. Even Canadians who were willing to forgive waste, incompetence and disdain for Parliament, may not be willing to forgive a secret deal to pay off a senator’s debts to the public purse…
It was the stench of arrogance, entitlement and dishonesty that brought the Liberals down. There are still two years to go before the Conservatives face the test of an election. If they hope to win that election, they would be well advised to, first of all, stop protecting Duffy and clean up this mess as much as possible.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper strode into office in 2006 promising “open, honest, accountable” governance. Seven years later, Canadians are gagging at the memory of that pledge…There seems to be no end to this scandal; every fresh revelation raises the question of Duffy’s fitness to sit in the Red Chamber.