Cards to play, chips to use

by Aaron Wherry

Reluctant partisan Mike Duffy explains the necessity of his travel on the public dime.

“You look at Holland College in P.E.I., they got $8.5 million this year,” said Duffy. “People say why do you travel? It’s because you need cards to play and chips to use.”

Duffy builds his chips up by traveling to MP’s ridings, meeting people, giving speeches and making friends.

“So I’m going to ask the minister of science Gary Goodyear to look favourably upon Holland College. He has a zillion applications and I say, ‘gee Gary, would you take a personal interest. I think it has merit. Will you look at that and see what you can do,” said Duffy. “So when Holland College comes up they get $8.5 million. They’re going to build some new buildings, take down some substandard housing and rearrange things and do it in a way that will substantially change your impression of Charlottetown.”




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Cards to play, chips to use

  1. Hey there old Duff – should you're duff be in a senate seat doing "senate" work?

    Seems you're travel expenses are campaigning for Harper on the taxpayer's dime.

    Shame on you.

  2. For the world's biggest blackberry officianado he certainly seems to be forgetting a key element of the service.

  3. NEWSFLASH!! Canadian Senator from the boonies acting like his predecessors have for last 142 years….for the same Ontario/Quebec get ALL the goodies reasons.

    Keep pushing this line Aaron, the CBC is still hiring.

  4. So, we are not only paying Mike Duffy to skew the decision-making process, we are paying for the expenses he accrues while doing so?

    It's staggering: Duffy literally thinks he's an MP. He literally does not know the difference between being an MP and being a Senator. He's just living out every bloated fantasy he ever had about being a playa on Parliament Hill. It's his turn on the beach, apparently. And we're paying for the ample sunscreen. Just don't ask us to rub it in for ya, Mike.

    • I think he could maybe do with some sort of break from politics for a while. I also wonder about the meds he is on. I know alcoholism is an issue. I almost feel sorry for the guy, but agree entirely that his recent behaviour has been outrageous.

    • It's his turn on the beach, apparently. And we're paying for the ample sunscreen….

      Oh thought you were going in a different direction with "beach." Something involving marooned cetaceans…

    • Maybe you could explain what he is doing that is forbidden to senators.

  5. Mike Duffy is a Senator. Unless it is abolished, the Senate is a legitimate part of our government. Get used to it.

    I think it's great that a Senator is actually out in the field making things happen. What is a Senator supposed to do? Sit in the Red Chamber and sleep?

    (Well, OK, that might be what Alexei Kovalev does, but the rest of the Senaors are supposed to get of their duffs and work.)

  6. Here is a challenge, Duffy. If you think that Canadians really appreciate your work, why don't you resign from your unelected Senate position and run against Stoffer?

    BTW, are you still friends with Don Martin? — wow, what an article!

    • Why on earth would he resign his job, just to make a point?

  7. So Duffy's explanation for why he should travel using public money is that it lets him use his connections in the government to give his riding special attention in the body of the legislature of which he's not a part of?

    I'm more confused than offended – did Duffy really just say, in a nutshell, that's he's using public money to shovel money to his riding ahead of other ridings by subverting the natural application process – and that it's supposed to be a good thing?

    I'd love it if a commentor more familiar with Duffy could explain this to me, 'cause now I'm just baffled.

    • You are not confused.
      He thinks his appointment is to act as a pork-barreler, not as a constitutional office holder.
      Yes, he is really that shameless.
      Yes, he's part of Harper's Permanent Campaign Machine.

    • Sounds like lobbying to me. Is he registered?

  8. They're supposed to scrutinise legislation soberly, not drunkenly lobby for their "constituents." They don't have constituents.

    • Then why are seats apportioned by province?

    • If that's all you think a Senator is good for, then the sooner we abolish it the better. That doesn't bother me.

      If Senate reform is what is wanted, the two parties that have been at the forefront of this debate have been the NDP and Consevatives.

  9. Looking back at the incident Duffy accuses Stoffer of hypocrisy.
    "On an annual basis he spends 128.000 and I spend $132,000," said Duffy. "We're within $4,000 of each other and he's attacking me for lavish spending. It's a stunt."

    It looks like Senator Puffy can't do basic math either. He spent $44,000 in 3 months. That works out to $176,000 ($48,000 more than Stoffer) on an annual basis.

    • Is he referring to his sessional indemnity as a Senator ($132,300)? I can't find any mention of travel or hospitality expenses for Senators. Nor can I figure out where the $128K figure for MPs comes from. Any ideas?

      http://www2.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/Lists/Salaries.as

    • And, Duffy forgot to include the fact that Stauffer's expenses include a constituency office. Not at all surprising given that he often 'forgot' stuff when he was doing his daily grandstanding.

      • Paul Russo of AP confirmed the other day that Stoffer's expenses (128,000) were not travel expenses, but staff, constituency, etc. As if Duffy doens't now this.

    • You forgot the month-long vacation that three-months worth of travelling around should entitle him to. Good thing Duffy didn't! Hey, you just be thankful he bothers to spend your money at all! Or something like that, I'm sure.

  10. Mike, that's not your job. Your job, and it's not a difficult one, is to sit your arse down in the Senate, participate in the "Sober Second Thought", and generally sleep away the years until you reach 75. (How old is Duffy, anyways? Surely that can't be that far away.) It's bad enough having Duffy in the Senate, but having his expenses come from the public purse is going too far. For any Senator, lest I be accused of partisanship.

    • If I remember correctly, Harper had his new senators agree to resign after 8 years, rather than when they are 75.

      • Of course, one has to wonder what (if any) punishment they'd encounter if they conveniently forgot that fact 8 years from now.

        Was there any sort of binding agreement signed? Or is this just all on trust?

        • Trust. A binding agreement would be essentially illegal. Anyone expect ol'Duff to step aside in 2016 if the Grits are in power?

          • Or if they still get donuts at committee meetings?

          • Not even Kady would get between Duffy and the Commitee Room snack table.

    • Somehow 'Duffy' and 'sober second thought' in the same sentence seems, um, absurd.

    • Duffy is 63. Born May 27, 1946.

    • Brava, Sophia!

    • Lobbying more, apparently…

  11. To voice regional concerns. There is a difference between doing that and lobbying for particular programs in your region.

    • That's why we pay for their extra MPs,..Seriously, what is the bright line between voicing regional concerns and lobbying for regional interests? Advocating for the renewal of Holland College, with its concomitant benefits for the region, seems to blur that line…(although any criticism that could rid us of Mike Duffy is very welcome).

      • But the PEI MP's have defined constituencies; the PEI Senators merely speak for their province.

        As to the bright line, I would have thought there'd be a way of advocating for one's region that did not involve merely pleading for more money for pet projects. For one thing, there are MP's available to do that.

        Anyway, why does Duffy need to fly back and forth to PEI to meet with the people he's trying to feed? Usually you fly off to meet the people you're trying to lobby. If a local project in PEI needs Duffy, they can fly off to Ottawa to meet him, or just pick up the phone. Duffy's already in Ottawa.

        • How big is PEI that it can't be a constituency? Surely it fits inside some Ontario or Quebec riding, and has less population than some others. And your point about lobbying applies equally to MPs – their constituents should travel out to meet them.

          The real question is over the role of the Senate. As it happens, these are politically connected people with varied interests. They do not merely respond to the business of the House of Commons. They can initiate their own reports on matters that interest them. They can advocate for spending that they think is beneficial. Like MPs, they are not confined to working in committees, although that should be an important aspect of their work. In an ideal world, they should not be Mike Duffy.

          • Absolutely! They can initiate their own reports, they dig deeper than MPs, generally, on the issues of the day. They can advocate for spending they think is beneficial. Like, for example, they could advocate for having local colleges get the funding they need. Or, they might want to advocate for smaller schools of higher education. They may even want to advocate for a regional rebalancing to be applied to education rather than whatever some other regions want to use the money for.

            What they do not do is advocate for Mr. Smith to get the contract for something, or a specific school to get more than the allotted share of the pie. They represent a REGION, not a specific institution or person!

            While I don't dismiss travel costs out of hand on the legitimate business a Senator might do, I would expect it to be, on average, less than half of an MPs expenses.

          • Remember when Jean Chretien called the BDC about a loan application from a constituent? People around Parliament Hill do this frequently, even though they represent a region rather than an individual. As long as it doesn't represent a conflict of interest, it's part of the job.

            In committee, senators and MPs argue for general rules or principles that they consider fair. They often invite participants who will speak for specific programs or institutions to these meetings.

            Outside of committee, they will advocate for institutions or programs that they find particularly worthwhile. Hopefully, most of them are more sensible about judging the worthiness of a cause than Mike Duffy appears to be.

          • I don't remember Jean Chretien being appointed to the Senate.

            He was an MP though, I recall, and that is part of the job of an MP, well sort of. People around Parliament Hill do this frequently IF THEY ARE MPs! See the difference?

          • No, obviously, we have different understandings of what senators do and how much they differ from MPs. It's simply true that many of them are politically connected and all of them have various interests that they advocate for as they mingle around Parliament Hill. But you're right, the Chretien example was inflammatory and not particularly instructive.

          • If you think there's not discernible difference between MPs and Senators then maybe we should abolish the Senate, seeing as they are doing the same jobs as the Parliament.

          • Okay, first, nobody can "represent" you unless they've been chosen by you and your community. Senators are not. They don't represent a damn thing, and people who say they do either don't understand what they really do, or are not properly using the language.

            We *appoint* senators from different regions in order to ensure that the body of knowledge brought to the table of "sober second thought" is as wide as possible.

            We *elect* MPs from different ridings to represent the constituents within the ridings.

            Ergo, senators aren't supposed to be lobbying for anything other than adjustments to the bills that Parliament puts before them, and even then, only to each other.

            There is a valid case for Duffy to travel to gain information.. as that would help him be a better senator. There is no such case for him to travel to impart information, as that is to be done in the Senate chamber and on senatorial committees.

      • Hello – it's not his job to campaign, lobby or tavel for campaigning. It's his job to examine policy/laws, look for loop holes that could be a problem in the future for the government, etc.

  12. He’s on government payroll in order to shirk his senatorial legislative duties and be on a perma-campaign for the CPC.

  13. I've been meaning to say: I wonder sometimes if Duffy doesn't still think he is quite clever and even justified in his recent behavior (at least in terms of strategy). What I mean is this: let us not forget what we must assume are the 'new goals' of Harper's recent Senate appointments. The most obvious and unsurprising is to stack with loyalists. That is not in any way unusual. What is unusual for a government to INTENTIONALLY stock the SENATE with FOOLS in order to render it ever more disfunctional and thereby strengthen the case they want to make regarding the urgent need for senate reforms. That's the second goal, and Duffy's recent outrageous drunken stereotype of the mustache twiddling politician enjoying the goodlife at public expense fits perfectly here.

  14. Duffy, the gift that keeps on giving. He's doing more damage to the Harper Party than all the opposition parties together could ever hope to.

    • What makes you think that Senator Duffy is damaging the Conservative Party?

      Partisan attacks from partisan hacks does little damage to anybody.

      • Agreed. Duffy is only really damaging himself, and quite badly I might add.

      • His shenanigans represent a mirror image of what goes on on the government side in the House.

  15. Gee, that's certainly food for trough

  16. Any way Joe Public can demand his resignation if he's not prepared to do senate work and wants to be a constant campaign sucker for Harper?

    We pay for this afterall.

  17. Maybe that;s why Harper appointed him – to get people interested in the idea of an elected Senate with a recall mechanism, ideas to warm Preston Manning's heart.

    • Myself, I see the Duffiad as a mere foretaste of what an elected Senate would look like.

      • Hmm…, an elected Senate? I wonder who thought of that before? I could support that.

        • Yes, because all we need are even more people in government looking at the short term.

    • Two elected chambers. Just like the U.S. How wonderful.

      • I don't have an issue with how the US Congress is set up; at least it's superior to ours in having both chambers elected. However, the House of Commons is not like the House of Representatives. The US House seats are apportioned equally on the basis of population, and the Senate provides regional balance.

        But the House of Commons, thanks to numerous previous bills forbidding any reduction in a province's number of seats, and due to provincial apportionment setups that privilege rural areas, is already biased in favour of the less populous provinces and regions. The average riding in PEI has 34,000 people, the average one in Saskatchewan or New Brunswick around 70,000, the average one in Nova Scotia or Manitoba about 80,000, and the average one in BC, Alberta or Ontario over 100,000. A Senate is redundant with such a system – and I don't see much evidence that the one in the US produces "sober second thought."

        • Katherine, I respectfully disagree that having two elected bodies is superior or that it is somehow more democratic (i.e. representative). I also don't have a problem with a "redundant" senate. In fact, I think the current system is probably the best compromise, and has worked reasonably well, although term limits should prove to be an improvement. If it ain't really broke, and it isn't, we shouldn't get to worked up over it.

          If we really want to achieve reform of our governance, let's have a discussion about federal/provincial division of responsibilities.

          • It is "broke": we pay them a lot to do very little, and if they were doing more it would be worse because they're mainly patronage appointments (eg, Harper's campaign manager); term limits would just allow faster turnover of patronage appointments when a different party gets into office.

            It's pretty much by definition more democratic to have your lawmakers elected by the people rather than appointed by one person. There can be a debate about whether more democracy always leads to better outcomes (I personally think the US system of electing judges is insane), but it is democratic.

            It's a simple (if not easy) way to cut the costs of government, and streamline its ability to act.

          • Katherine, reasonable points, except i think there are few instances in our history when the senate has actually prevented the government from acting, and the price of the senate, in the grand scheme of things, is a small price to pay for a considered review of legislation before it is enacted.

          • In addition, it certainly feels broken to have a Senate where New Brunswick (pop.~750,000) has more Senators (10) than BC or Alberta (4.4 and 3.6 million, respectively, with 6 Senators each), and when the latter two combined have a population greater than that of Quebec, but have half the number of Senators of Quebec as well as having more populous ridings in the House of Commons.

            I could be reconciled to the Senate if it was elected and regionally representative and if the House of Commons repealed all previous legislation biasing House seats in favour of the less populous provinces. As I recognize none of those things have any chance of happening, it would be simpler just to get rid of it.

          • Again, fair enough, but as a personal matter, I have never been persuaded that consistency and symmetry are always the best approach. There is something comfortably "Canadian" whereby smaller provinces and rural areas get some help against us overbearing city slickers (;-) even if the legislative result, particularly most recently, is not to my liking. Our history is that if we remain reasonably calm and civil, it seems to work out over time.

            Quebec is a special case, and I wouldn't mind if my own province (Ontario) were to give up a few of its seats so that AB and BC could have some more.

  18. Folks, you are forgetting that "tiny" Mike Duffy has to pay for two seats on the plane in order to fit his fat butt..

  19. Mulroney? I remember something about Constitutional Reform in the late 80's that included an elected Senate. Whoever can guess which current Prime Minister was opposed to those initiatives wins a gold star!

  20. While it is infuriating to hear of Senator Duffy travelling around the country shilling for the Conservative Party at taxpayers' expense, it's probably better for the Canadian political scene to have him doing that than pretending to be an objective journalist.

    Wolves are less harmful when not in sheep's clothing.

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