How Mike Duffy paid back that $90,172

A gift from the Prime Minister’s chief of staff

by Aaron Wherry

Back in February, Mike Duffy announced that, in order to turn the page, he would be repaying the housing allowance he had claimed as a senator.

Last night, CTV reported that there was some kind of deal between Mr. Duffy and Nigel Wright, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff. This morning, CTV reports that Mr. Wright wrote a cheque for the $90,172 in question, apparently as a gift from Mr. Wright to Mr. Duffy. The Canadian Press reports that the Prime Minister was not aware of the gift.

Here is the official statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Government believes that taxpayers should not be on the hook for improper expense claims made by Senators.

Mr. Duffy agreed to repay the expenses because it was the right thing to do. However, Mr. Duffy was unable to make a timely repayment.

Mr. Wright therefore wrote a cheque from his personal account for the full amount owing so that Mr. Duffy could repay the outstanding amount.

The independent external audit by Deloitte looking into Senate expenses was completed and the results tabled.

Mr. Duffy has reimbursed taxpayers for his impugned claims. Mr. Harb and Mr. Brazeau should pay taxpayers back immediately.

Update 1:35pm. The NDP wants an “independent investigation” into this entire matter and they allege “unethical behaviour” inside the Prime Minister’s Office, but it’s not yet entirely clear how the Conflict of Interest Act or the Senate’s Conflict of Interest Code should be applied in a situation such as this. I’ve asked the Ethics Commissioner and the Senate Ethics Officer for comment.

Update 2:33pm. The ethics commissioner’s office corrects me: the Conflict of Interest Act doesn’t apply to Mike Duffy. As a Senator, he is covered by the Senate’s Conflict of Interest Code. Mr. Wright is covered, as a public office holder, by the Act, but there’s no indication that he received a gift here. Otherwise, I’m told “Commissioner Dawson is reviewing this matter in order to determine how the other provisions of the Act might apply, and is following up with Mr. Wright.”

Senator Duffy has not yet commented, but CTV’s Robert Fife’s has referred to “financial problems” and concerns that, because of health issues, Mr. Duffy’s wife might left with a debt to pay. The Canadian Press adds similar context.

A government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said Wright and Duffy are friends and that Wright offered the money as a gift rather than a loan. Duffy had been experiencing financial difficulties, the source said.

Update 4:59pm. A statement from Senator David Tkachuk, chair of the Senate’s internal economy committee.

There have been inquiries in the press recently about untoward influence on the Senate Committee on Internal Economy’s conduct of its work involving Senator Mike Duffy’s living expense claims. The Steering Committee of Internal Economy referred Senator Duffy to independent auditors.  This was supported by leadership on both sides, the point being that in the interest of propriety the issue should be dealt with at arm’s length. We on the committee conducted ourselves appropriately throughout this whole process.  We made available to Deloitte all documents in the hands of our Finance Directorate pertaining to Senator Duffy’s expense claims for the entire period of the audit. We had no control – nor did we wish to have control – over what Deloitte would conclude. 

The Star has reviewed some of the concerns raised about the Senate’s investigation.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Press reviews Senator Duffy’s role as a Conservative fundraiser.

Update 5:32pm. The Sun seems to have the only comment, such as it is, from Senator Duffy today.

The former television host wouldn’t comment Wednesday. “I can’t talk and I’m not talking,” he said when reached by phone.

Update 5:57pm. John Geddes considers Nigel Wright, Mike Duffy and the Senate’s Conflict of Interest Code. Here is what Section 17 of the Code states.

Prohibition: gifts and other benefits
17. (1) Neither a Senator, nor a family member, shall accept, directly or indirectly, any gift or other benefit, except compensation authorized by law, that could reasonably be considered to relate to the Senator’s position.

Exception
(2) A Senator, and a family member, may, however, accept gifts or other benefits received as a normal expression of courtesy or protocol, or within the customary standards of hospitality that normally accompany the Senator’s position.

Statement: gift or other benefit
(3) If a gift or other benefit that is accepted under subsection (2) by a Senator or his or her family members exceeds $500 in value, or if the total value of all such gifts or benefits received from one source in a 12-month period exceeds $500, the Senator shall, within 30 days after the gift or benefit is received or after that total value is exceeded, as the case may be, file with the Senate Ethics Officer a statement disclosing the nature and value of the gifts or other benefits, their source and the circumstances under which they were given.

Update 6:20pm. Kady O’Malley offers her thoughts on Section 17 and whether Mr. Wright’s gift constitutes a violation of the Code.

Update 8:33pm. Global adds some context on the relationship between Mr. Wright and Mr. Duffy.

An official speaking on background said Wright and Duffy go back to the 1980s during the Brian Mulroney days. 

The Globe notes that Mr. Wright worked in Mr. Mulroney’s PMO.

Update 8:47pm. The Globe and Citizen editorial boards are unimpressed. The Canadian Press links Mr. Duffy’s repayment with his lack of cooperation with the Senate’s audit.

What this amounts to seems, to me, to depend on whether Mr. Wright’s cheque was inappropriate or merely odd. That’s at least the question I’m still trying to sort out.

Update 11:19pm. CTV has now posted the latest report from Robert Fife—click on the video—including Senator Duffy’s denial last night that Mr. Wright was involved and Conservative sources who say Mr. Duffy and Mr. Wright were not close friends.




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How Mike Duffy paid back that $90,172

  1. So how quickly does the Puffster have to pay this back before fingers start getting broken?

    • Puffy fingers bend but never break.

  2. That’s the last straw. Duffy’s gotta go. Now. Today.

    “Senators may not accept, nor may a family member accept, any gift or other benefit that could reasonably be considered to relate to their position, except as permitted under the Code. Gifts, benefits and sponsored travel that are acceptable under the Code must be declared to the Senate Ethics Officer if they exceed $500.00 in value (sections 17 and 18) and these must bepublicly declared pursuant to paragraph 31(1)(i).”

    Nigel Wright, you should have known the above. You should be right behind him. Today.

    And if Harper can’t demonstrate that he didn’t know about this bailout, he’s next.

    • Nice catch.

    • I’m having a hard time understanding how Duffy could claim he was repaying the money if, in fact, he was being reimbursed by Wright. Where was Wright getting the money from? Is it really a personal amount? If so, I find it hard to believe Wright gave Duffy a personal gift of 90k. There is no way in heck that happened, nobody hands out 90k as a gift. So that leaves the possibility that Wright expensed the amount himself, or that it was a loan. If he expensed it, this really stinks, Duffy’s reimbursement was a lie. If it was a loan, then it’s not a gift at all, but I fail to see how a senator and a member of the government should be conducting financial business with each other, they should be at arm’s length.

      • I can believe it. Wright I’m sure is very independently wealthy.

        • Wealthy people are just as aware (even more so) of the value of money as other people. Even is he is wealthy, I have a hard time believing he would just hand over that kind of money. I would be more suspicious that he expensed the money from a different expense account.

          Why would he need to have a meeting with Duffy involving lawyers if were just a gift? You don’t need a lawyer for a gift. You might need one for a loan, or if there were some other financial arrangement in place.

          The first report said “Two months before the audit was released, Harper’s top advisor Nigel Wright had a PMO lawyer work on a letter of understanding with Duffy’s legal counsel.”

          • If it’s a gift, who says Duffy would have to use it to repay his fraudulent expenses? Maybe that’s why there was a lawyer. If the news is true, how do you feel about this transaction?

          • I don’t know how I feel about it. Most scenarios look bad. But Healthcare Insider has a scenario that looks ok.
            The gift law cited by John G is intended to avoid conflicts of interest or other influence on senate business or other affairs in the senate.
            If this was indeed a gift between friends outside of the affairs of senate business then I suppose it looks kosher. But it’s difficult to create a dividing line in this case, however, because the gift and the fraudulent expense reimbursement appears to be closely linked, and appears to be intended to alleviate Duffy’s audit problems, rather than assist with Duffy’s personal financial issues – how do you make the distinction? The other problem is that a friend doing anything other than working for the government would look less suspicious, but since Wright is in the government and is in the same party, it also raises eyebrows for me.
            However if it were a gift to assist Duffy financially, if the money was indeed not expensed but was indeed personal money, then I can understand that it’s nobody’s business. If there is anything else going on, it stinks.

          • Is it just me, or does this have the same kind of smell as those “Adscam brown bags” the CPC and their supporters like to talk so much about?

          • s-c-f: I appreciate you candid answer. The fact that this is a senator under investigation for fraud, and the prime minister’s chief of staff, make things different than if it was just me and my neighbour. And even if it’s kosher for a chief of staff to give his money to a senator, the fact that the senator was ripping off the taxpayers who already foot the bill for his elite lifestyle is just plain wrong.

          • It has been reported that the gift amount exactly coincided with the amount Duffy had to repay. It was $90,120. It was not $90K and it was not $90,200. Wright didn’t round up or down, he just wrote a check for the amount Duffy owed for his disallowed and/or fraudulent housing reimbursements. This is more like paying a Senator’s bill than just giving a friend a random gift independent of him being a Senator.

          • Yes of course…he paid his bill to the Canadian taxpayer. He didn’t give him extra “hush money”.

          • If I were going to give a sitting Senator a “gift” of exactly the amount of cash that the Senator promised to pay the treasury back for sketchy expense claims I’d certainly want a lawyer involved.

            That said, I WOULDN’T actually want a lawyer in that scenario because I’d never even CONSIDER that it MIGHT be kosher, in any scenario, to write a $90,000 personal cheque on behalf of a sitting Senator. I don’t think I’d need a lawyer to tell me “you probably shouldn’t do that”.

        • This comment was deleted.

          • Raaaaa-cist

    • I think I’m unwell. I have to disagree with you and defend Duffy and Wright. Or, at least Wright.

      I guess I’m picturing myself having to write a cheque for $90,000. That’s a sh*tload of money. I am not going to have that kind of scratch on me. I’m going to turn to friends/family to help me out to loan me the money.

      I might be assuming here, but I see it as a loan, not a gift. Wright helping him out isn’t the sin. Duffy improperly expensing the $90,000 is.

      Am I nuts in thinking this? I’m kinda worried.

      • If he wasn’t former head of ONEX I’d probably agree with this assessment. but if true, it raises the question of where is the $ rerally coming from and on whose orders is it done?

      • I think you’re unwell too. Seek help. :)

        They’ve called it a gift. Not a loan. There was apparently no intent to pay it back.

        Don’t forget, Nigel Wright was the CEO of a major corporation. Safe to say, he’s pretty loaded.

        • Well, it’s certainly not a practice to be encouraged, but I’m having a hard time assuming that something underhanded took place here. And I’m not a guy who gives the Tories the benefit of the doubt on too damn much.

          Anyway, if anybody calls me a Harper hater in the future I can link them to this page.

          If there’s no expectation that the money be paid back, though, I agree… that’s not cool.

          • Section 17 of the Senate’s Conflict of Interest code is what I quoted at the start of this thread.

            This may be ignorance of the code rather than malice, but that is no excuse for someone at Wright’s level.

            And, yes, me attacking Harper/CPC & you defending is one of the more surreal exchanges I think I’ve ever had here.

          • Agreed… and, the fact that this is just coming out now suggests that they were in no rush to be transparent about it, either. Ok, it’s starting to get stinkier for me now. My scandal radar ain’t what it used to be.

          • None of this is cool, from the appointment of a guy to represent a place he hasn’t lived in 40 years, to his fraudulent expenses, to a CoS paying out personal cash for an illegal debt.

      • Well, if it was a loan that’s the least bad option. But, it does raise the issue of whether govrernment officials and senators should be dealing in financial matters involving the senate.
        There are two other issues:
        1. Why couldn’t Duffy just get a loan from a bank? It suggests that even if it were a loan, it had favourable terms, which makes it a gift.

        2. And it also stinks that Duffy is claiming to have reimbursed the money when in reality he had a lot of help from the government.

        I would also be concerned that it was actually a loan. Did Wright expense the money? That would be slimy, it would simply be shifting the improper housing expense from one place to another, while making it look like it was paid back.

        • If you read the source articles, MacDougall said the money didn’t come from the government but rather from Wright who is a personal friend of Duffy’s. The article also said Duffy is in bad financial shape and his health is bad. It suggests he is concerned he will leave Mrs. Duffy with the debt (sounds like he is dying). The article also says that Wright offered the money as a gift due to his friendship with Duffy, Duffy’s “problems” (health & financial) and his belief that the taxpayer should not be on the hook for the expense.

          • If everything you say is true, then this scenario is the one scenario that puts nobody involved in a negative light.

          • Go up and read the article. They are the red highlighted words.

          • Except it would still potentially (almost certainly) violate the Code section cited by john g – friendship or no. Key words: “could reasonably be considered to relate to their position”. Given the money was to be used to repay inappropriately (possibly illegally) obtained benefits, I can’t see any way it could not “relate to [his] position” unless there’s a whopping big loophole contained in the words “except as permitted under the Code.”

          • Like I said, making a distinction between personal and senate-related is very difficult in this case.

          • Perhaps that is why Wright consulted a PMO lawyer before giving Duffy the money.

          • He should have found a better one.

          • Do health problems mean it’s okay to bilk taxpayers through fraudulent expense claims? And as a healthcare insider, does it surprise you that an obese septuagenarian who’s had heart surgery has health problems? Maybe lots of stress, given he’s been caught?

          • Now, now let’s not get into the personal attacks on weight. You didn’t like it when they did it to Ms. Spence when she was in the news, so don’t lower yourself here.
            I don’t think I said anything about Mr. Duffy’s actions with regard to expense claims. Rather, I reiterated what the source article said with regard to Mr. Wright’s motives in giving the $90K to Duffy to pay off the housing expense. It said Wright was Duffy’s friend; Duffy was financially strapped and in poor health; Duffy didn’t want to leave his wife with the debt and Wright didn’t want the taxpayers on the hook for the debt.
            As for Duffy’s health issues, of course they don’t surprise me. Stress also is very hard on health. It also wouldn’t surprise me if Wright helped him IF he is a good friend and IF he is very wealthy. I am sure there will be an investigation into conflict of interest in the Senate. I am not sure though given that the Canadian taxpayer benefits from this and that it is difficult for anyone to prove an intent to deceive given that Wright wrote a cheque to Duffy, which is hardly cloak and dagger.

          • Just wow, HI. What a high and hysterical horse you are on today. I believe “obese” is a medical term and thought you, with all your inside healthcare knowledge, would recognize the difference beween that and calling someone a tub of lard, etc. Moreover, I never said a darn word to trolls calling Chief Spence names.

            Tell me: you are all over this forum like a hysterical hornet. Do you believe these talking points you are spouting, or are you just trolling for some attention.

            Notice that none of your usual cohort is around, just a couple of conservative supporters saying they are disappointed, and if this news is true, that Duffy should resign. The others may be here, reading, but they are not coming out to defend this complete ethical breakdown in PMO and the Senate.

            How could Nigel Wright be friends with Duffy? How old was Wright when Mulroney was in power — 25? Good lord. And Duffy was a freakin’ journalist at the time: just what would they have been doing together for the prime minister?

            Open your eyes and get off your high horse. You are making an idiot of yourself on this topic.

      • Well, they’re calling it a gift, not a loan, so the impression is certainly that Wright has simply paid Duffy’s sketchy living allowances back for him.

        That said, whether it’s a gift or a loan seems rather immaterial to me. It’s hard for me to justify ANYONE writing a personal cheque for over $90,000 on behalf of a sitting Senator whether there’s a re-payment plan in place or not! The fact that it seems pretty clear that they planned to do this $90,000 transaction quietly and “off the books” if possible, just adds to the stink.

        I personally can’t see any scenario in which it would even conceivably be proper for ANYONE to help out a sitting Senator pay off a 5 figure dept out of their own personal wealth, no matter how the payment/re-payment was structured.

        • I think there may be some regulations around politicians accepting large monetary gifts. So there may be some ethics rules broken here, in addition to the fraudulent expense claims.

        • We should also note that a loan DOES have a value. Most loans have interest, and if they don’t, then the amount of foregone interest represents an unrealized amount even when the amount is paid back. If I lend somebody $100, and accept $100 back after the same period in which a legal, arm’s length lender would have expected $10 of interest, i made a gift of $10 to that person.

        • If it is a gift, it is a gift to the taxpayers because according to the source article, Duffy has financial problems and his health is not good so chances are the taxpayers were not going to see the $90K paid back. Meanwhile, Wright as Duffy’s friend cut a personal cheque for the amount of housing debt so the taxpayer would get the money. If Wright was trying to buy influence, Duffy would not be in financial difficulty now. Rather, he would be living high off the hog thanks to his wealthy friend and if Duffy were as ethically impoverished as you would paint him, he would have taken the $90K and used it for something far more gratifying than paying the Canadian taxpayers. After all, once the money was in his hands, he had the ability to do with it what he wanted.
          Sometimes, a good friend who happens to be wealthy, does a good turn for a sick man and his wife. As for your suggestion that this transaction was “off the books”, that is a stretch given that a personal cheque was involved. I am not up on sinister accounting but in my opinion writing personal cheques from one person to another, keep things pretty much “on the books”.

          • I’m sorry; no amount of insider healthcare can cure this Harper Government of its corruption sickness.
            The only final solution is defeat in 2015.

          • Yes….we need another Adscam.

          • We’ve got one of those already too. 3.1 billion, remember?

          • Someone told me that the audit that revealed that 3.1 billion dollars missing was over 9 years and for 6 of those years, the Liberals were running the government. Is that true?

          • It’s true that the CPC appointed auditor was looking at the books for 9 years.

            It’s also true that 3.1 billion dollars went missing.

            Is it plausible that if it went missing on the Liberal watch it would not have been picked out by the previous auditor general, or that the CPC would not be putting the full blame on the Liberals for the missing money?

          • I think one has to have an incredibly trusting (or wilfully blind & partisan) outlook for this to pass one’s smell test.

          • I am sorry Keith, I just wish ALL of these politicians had a rich friend who could pay us taxpayers back every time one of them rips us off. Think of the money we could recoup. Really…did they have to “buy Duffy”?

          • Maybe he threatened to spill the beans on how his hatchet job on Dion was done in collusion with certain well-placed CPC members? Maybe he has some other juicy story to tell? Who knows? I don’t know the why yet; I just know something is not, um, wright with this picture.

          • Oh come on Keith, if Duffy had a “smokin’ gun” that didn’t bury him as well, he certainly would not have settled for a mere $90K to payoff a bill to the taxpayers. He would be flowing in the cash because obviously Mr. Wright and some of his friends have available cash to pay.
            This is what I am trying to tell you….I come up with the rich friend helps the poor, sick down on his luck friend scenario according to you guys that is “too unbelievable” but you float a conspiracy theory that doesn’t even make sense in response. You are going to have to do a lot better. Someone suggested vote buying but honestly WHEN has the PM EVER had to buy Duffy’s vote?

          • Like I said – we don’t know the “why” yet. For all I know this may have just been a down payment. Anything, at this point – including your “everything is rosy & Wright is just a super-nice guy” story – is just supposition. Because I’m definitely not simply taking these two at their word, given one is a proven liar and fraudster.

          • I read an article about Wright in the Walrus and Wright is a “super-nice guy” plus he is very squeaky-clean. His friend, Andrew Coyne wrote an article saying he doesn’t know what Wright was thinking but admitting that Wright is his friend and that everyone likes him. Read the article in the Walrus about the guy and make up your own mind.

          • Duff has a way of bringing down nice guys. Ask Dion.

          • Andrew Coyne said he and Nigel Wright are friends. Now we have Fife saying “insiders say Duffy and Wright aren’t close”. However, if you read the Walrus article, Wright was a standout conservative in highschool. He worked in Mulroney’s PMO as a young law student. He was room mates with Tom Long who ran against Stockwell Day for the leadership of the Reform Party. He was integral in the merging of the new Conservative Party. He has been close personal friends with Stephen Harper for years. I would be surprised if he and Duffy aren’t friends.

          • If Wright was trying to buy influence, Duffy would not be in financial difficulty now.

            Well, it’s certainly true that the PM’s Chief of Staff has little reason to want to purchase the influence of Senator Mike “I’ll do whatever the PMO tells me to do” Duffy. That wouldn’t just be silly, it would be irrational.

            That said, it isn’t DUFFY’s influence that Wright would be trying to curry, would it? It’s not nefarious in the sense that it looks like they’re trying to buy a vote that they already own, it’s nefarious in the sense that it looks like they were trying to wash Duffy’s reputation with someone else’s money, and more importantly, that the only real reason to rush the payment was that Duffy stopped cooperating with the ongoing audit the moment the payment was made. So, that $90,000 not only allowed them to make Duffy look like a good guy paying the taxpayers back, but also gave him an excuse to stop talking and cooperating with the auditors.

            As for the payment being “off the books”, sure, there was a cheque, and ergo a paper trail, but that’s hardly the point. All the principles seem to be of the opinion that this $90,000 cheque was nothing more than a gift between two old friends. No need to report it to the Ethics office. No need to declare it to the CRA as income. No need for ANYONE to know about it but the banks involved. If everyone had just kept their mouths shut we never would have found out that the PM’s Chief of Staff wrote a sitting Senator a $90,000 personal cheque to help him pay off his questionable living expenses. The problem is (thankfully) some people just don’t know how to keep their mouths shut!

          • “no need for ANYONE to know about it”. You are so right. Banks were involved. If this is such a nefarious transaction, a smart guy like Nigel Wright would have passed the “cash” through a lot more hands and distanced himself from it. You guys just aren’t used to crooks who GIVE the taxpayers back the money. You don’t know what to make of it.

    • You don’t understand the Conservatives’ senate rules: contravening a code of ethics doesn’t get you out of the Senate, it gets you INTO the senate. That’s how Duffy got in, while under investigation for breach to the code of ethics of his profession.

    • John, picture this…your good friend has financial trouble and health problems. Meanwhile you are a multi-millionaire. He owes the tax-man $90K and if he doesn’t pay it, he may very well lose his job. His wife and he are very stressed because he has a job that is high-profile. Would you not write a cheque for $90K to help your good friend? Would you not tell him…”don’t worry if you can’t pay it back”?
      If something is really underhanded here, why would Wright cut a personal cheque to Duffy to cover the costs. Why wouldn’t they do something sinister like going through a few channels where they pass the money through family members so no one suspects it came from Duffy’s friend who works in the Prime Minister’s Office? Further, if Duffy and Wright are such crooks, why did they pay back the tax payer’s money? If Wright is buying Duffy’s influence, why didn’t Duffy who is apparently is sick anyway, keep the money and spend it on something else? What does a man who has no ethical standards care about paying off the taxpayers?

      • Sigh.

        You know where I stand on most issues. I’m “c”onservative. I’m inclined to want to look on the bright side when the Conservatives are involved.

        I can’t do it here. The Conflict of Interest guide for Senators is pretty clear. You can’t make a gift like this to a sitting Senator related to Senate business, and I don’t think you can make a reasonable case that this gift is separate from Senate business. At the absolute least it needed to be disclosed within 30 days & it wasn’t.

        I hate it. Nigel Wright seems to be, by all accounts, an accomplished and decent individual. The health issues are perhaps a mitigating factor. You may be right that that’s all that’s going on here. But it’s not good enough, and if it were the Liberals, I’d be screaming bloody murder (and probably getting thumbed down for it like crazy, but there you go).

        Bottom line, the PM’s CoS has to know that he can’t just discard the Senate’s Conflict of Interest code to help his buddy out of a jam of his own making.

        • I would be very upset if the money hadn’t gone to the taxpayer.

          • That is true. The only saving grace here is that this is about fixing a misuse of taxpayer money rather than misusing more of it.

        • “The Conflict of Interest guide for Senators is pretty clear. ”

          Well we know that the forms for disclosing your principal residence were not very clear to Mike Duffy, so very likely the same applies here.

          Its all so confusing for him!

      • I am honestly surprised at how willing you are to try to sweep this under the rug. I thought you were more balanced that this, not an apologist. Even john g and s-c-f seem genuinely upset by today’s revelation.

        • And Francien is nowhere to be found…

          • Didn’t get her tenpercenter yet – doesn’t know what to think without tenpercenters.

        • Hey, I live in a province where one of the heads of the former 2 largest health regions sent her second in command to the US for a second opinion to ensure her cancer was cured….all on the taxpayers. When this was later revealed, she paid it back. Story after story has come out like this. So to hear about a story where a person paid off another person’s debt to the taxpayer, I am dancing a jig. We got some money for a change. All we need to do is get Nigel Wright to cut a cheque for those other assholes in the senate who won’t pay back their housing allowances like Brazeua and Harb. Don’t those two idiots have some rich friends?

      • Apparently there was no outstanding mortgage on the PEI residence, meaning a personal loan was not required.

        • Apparently Duffy is not healthy and he doesn’t want his wife to have the debt.

          • That’s fine. So long as he quits his senate position.
            He can have the debt incurred by taking the taxpayer’s money he wasn’t entitled to and keep his job, or he can quit his job and take Wright’s gift to pay off his loan.

            Either one is fine.

            Keeping both the job and accepting the gift is not.

          • That is fair.

      • Picture this…your good friend has financial trouble and health problems. Meanwhile you are a multi-millionaire. He owes the tax-man $90K and if he doesn’t pay it, he may very well lose his job. His wife and he are very stressed because he has a job that is high-profile. Would you not write a cheque for $90K to help your good friend?

        If I were Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, and my good friend was a sitting Senator appointed by my Prime Minister, then I think I’d tell my friend that I’m pretty sure that me writing him a cheque for $90,000 would almost certainly end up causing him more stress and trouble than going on T.V. and declaring that he’d changed his mind and wasn’t going to pay the money back after all.

        And again, it’s not so much about influencing Duffy (except in that he was able to clam up and stop co-operating with the auditors the moment the cheque cleared) it’s about influencing the electorate and the auditors. Perhaps it can be spun as “one good friend helping another”, but it’s just as easy (I’d argue easier) to view it as the PM’s Chief of Staff using his own wealth to simultaneously stimy an ongoing independent audit while rehabilitating the reputation of a government Senator. Then there’s the fact that Duffy apparently had a deal in place for the government to “go easy on him” in exchange for him paying off the debt with Wright’s money.

        So, sure, it may not be about influence peddling, in the end, nor would it make sense for this to be about currying Duffy’s favour. However, I wouldn’t take witness tampering and fraud off the table too quickly.

        • Okay, this is where is MAKES NO SENSE…. “Duffy apparently had a deal in place for the government to go easy on him in exchange for him paying off the debt with Wright’s money”. Huh?
          You are trying to tell me that the “powers” had to force Duffy to take the free money from Wright? You are trying to say that Duffy’s expenses somehow implicated the PMO so they wanted to stop the audit instead of just cutting loose a person who has zero credibility and is an embarrassment to the party? All of this while the Party is still in power and can just appoint a different, less problematic senator. Okay…hmm…”easier to argue” than one good rich guy helping out a friend down on his luck…..huh….

          • It only makes sense if you don’t consider the places where the expensed money may have been going.

            Perhaps the reason Mr. Duffy was in such poor financial shape is that his appointment came with a deal as to where that extra expense cash was to go.

          • I’m not actually trying to tell you anything, it’s the news reports and DUFFY HIMSELF that claim that there was a deal in place to “go easy on him” if he paid back the money, and then he paid back the money and stopped talking to the auditors.

            I’m certainly not suggesting that he was “forced” to take the money, but I AM suggesting that the PM’s Chief of Staff personally writing a $90,000 cheque that both makes it possible for a sitting Senator to claim to have paid back potentially ill-gotten housing allowances AND gives said Senator an excuse to stop cooperating with independent financial auditors can’t POSSIBLY be considered ethical behaviour on any planet in the known universe.

  3. Well, if you will appoint a Senator from PEI who doesn’t live in PEI, what do you expect? All Harper’s woes stem from that initial decision

    • I would expect him to be left swinging for it, like Brazeau and the Liberal guy were over lesser amounts for the same infringement. NEVER would I expect the PMO staffer to just write a personal cheque over it.

      • Kady: – Well, the two Senators that are
        getting the Harper VIP defense are both currently Conservatives, and the
        two being thrown to the wind are not.

        Does that clear it up for you?

  4. Scandalous stuff, really. I just keep wondering why Duffy and not Wallin? Why go so far to defend and protect him?

    • What makes you think some CON didn’t write a personal cheque to Pam as well?

    • According to the source article, Wright and Duffy are personal friends; Duffy is in financial trouble and his health is poor; he is concerned about leaving Mrs. Duffy in debt (?after his death); Wright didn’t want the taxpayer to be on the hook for the housing debt so he paid off “his friend’s” debt”. Obviously Wright is very wealthy.

      • You have lost it.

        • I am only repeating the source article info.

          • ad nauseum

          • Okay but NO ONE including you is giving anything better in terms of a reason why someone with Nigel Wright’s stellar reputation (and he does have a good reputation) would bother to what? bribe? Mike Duffy. Geez…Hello….what possibly could Mike Dufffy do for the PMO that he isn’t already doing? Could he sell them his vote…DUH….he votes their way everytime. Could he influence peddle….Huh…how much more can he put himself out there? Is he really that important to their reputation in the senate? Gee…do they really care about their reputation in the senate? Not so that you would notice. Meanwhile, you have a person like Nigel Wright who is beyond reproach (if you don’t believe that read about him in Walrus) and yes he is religious and rich. It isn’t such a stretch that he might just be a very good person.

          • I have posted a long response to you, and cannot engage with you any longer on this until you take your head out of the sand and think about your own questions. Why indeed, hi, why indeed?

          • They should’ve sent Finley and Flanagan (sounds like a comedy act, doesn’t it?) to offer Duffy a million dollar life insurance policy.

            I imagine Finley would have been able to arrange to cover it as a campaign expense across many different candidates, and Flanagan . . . well, Flanagan might’ve been able to send Duffy some NSFW url’s.

      • Why not avoid impropriety by giving the money to the widow after Duffy is dead and the estate settled?

        • How would that pay back the taxpayer in a timely manner?

          • take out mortgage, pay amount you bilked taxpayer. die, settle estate. Dear dear friend plies wife with $.

            Seriously, excusing this conduct gets more and more convoluted. Anything is possible, but you’ve gone well beyond reasonability here.

            Just stop.

  5. “Mr. Duffy was unable to make a timely repayment.”

    What had Duffy spent all that money on? Why couldn’t he liquidate that asset in order to make payment? If Duffy really impecunious?

    The mind boggles.

    • You’d think he could have remortgaged his “primary residence” in PEI. The report on CTV last night said it is paid for…

      • According to the source article Duffy has poor health and is in financial trouble. He doesn’t want to leave his wife in more debt.

        • Then he could have sold it. It’s not like he actually lives there.
          Sorry – no pity. Duffy got himself in this mess because he has a problem with ethics. Health has nothing to do with that.

          • It isn’t about Duffy but about his wife.

          • soon it’s going to be about aliens with the rate you are trying to come up with a scenario that turns this conduct into…well, it’s still a breach in your scenario, isn’t it?

            Why not just add some orphans at this point?

          • It was always about the wife GFMD.

          • Did she benefit from the fraud? If the money went into the household accounts, she did. While I have some sympathy for her and the situation she finds herself in, it is no different from the spouse of any other fraudster made to repay his/her victims.

          • Gee Keith, I don’t know what he spent the money on……

          • And it doesn’t matter. Concern about his wife is a red herring.

          • then give the money to her after he’s dead and buried

          • She isn’t getting the money, the Canadian taxpayer is. She, however doesn’t get the debt because Nigel Wright paid it back.

        • According to an anonymous source. That means someone with as much credibility as you or me.

        • Duffy was a celebrity newscaster for years who likely earned, while not extravagant, a well above par salary because of his popularity. I find it hard to believe that such a person would not have a life insurance policy that would leave his wife with little to worry about if something happened to him given the amount of travel he’d be doing and the high risk people he’d be hanging around; if that’s not the case, or he was silly enough to let it lapse, he had a pretty poor financial manager.

          His wife is just obfuscation; same as the proclamations that Wright “did the honourable thing” when “the honourable thing” was for Duffy to pay back the money he shouldn’t have gotten in the first place.

          • Life insurance policies usually require a physical examination.

          • Which, if it was required, he probably had 20-30 years ago when he signed on if anyone was doing their job right. They can’t kick you off once you get sick: I’ve inherited far too much money far too early to know that’s not the case.

            Mind you, nowhere near the million dollar policy Duffy should likely have.

      • Duffy doesn’t have a lap.

    • You must remember there is a Mrs. Duffy too. Those assets belong to her as well.

      • And you must remember that those assets, at least the 90k of them he had to repay, came at the expense of the taxpayers of Canada. They don’t belong to her either.

        • Hey, Nigel Wright paid that back to the Canadian taxpayer to the dismay of so many.

          • No. Nigel Wright paid that to Duffy. In essence, Mr. Wright paid for the loan Mr. Duffy could have taken out to pay our money back.

          • If Mr. Duffy’s ‘done up”, he wouldn’t be able to get a loan so he couldn’t pay our money back. That is why Nigel Wright stepped in and paid it on Mr. Duffy’s behalf.

          • That’s a large “if”, and it ignores how CTV has pointed out that his PEI property is paid for. So far as I’m aware, banks are still giving mortgages.. especially to someone making over 100k/yr in one of the most stable jobs this country has to offer.

          • My word, you are doing some yeoman’s work on this page for your party. It saddens me that you do such dirty work pro bono.

          • Oh, I don’t know. I think it would be downright unethical to take money…

          • But look at what deep pockets they have! They can afford to compensate you for your aid.

          • Somehow it wouldn’t be wright…er right.

  6. Why didn’t they go the extra mile and pick up the tab for his salary too?

  7. So, suppose I commit a theft. Get caught, get convicted. I decide it’s too inconvenient for me to serve the time, but I’ve got a buddy who’d gladly serve time for me (they’ve got all the time in the world and enjoy the solitude!)
    Do you think this is ok? If not, how is Duffy any different? (assuming this is a ‘gift’

    • More like the cop investigating you says hey i know a way we can fix this….

    • It’s different because of the ownership of what’s being given up. Wright gave the money to him as a gift, he technically could have just kept it.

      Society required Duffy pay, Duffy did. Regardless of the origins of it.

      In your proposed case, you’re not the one giving up your time/freedom, which is what society would require of you for your crime.

      • So do you agree with what Mr Wright did for Mr Duffy?

        • Meh. None of my business what Wright did for Duffy. His money, his choice. Personally, I can think of a hell of a lot better uses for for 90k, but if that’s what he wants to do with it.. fine.

          The real question that needs to be asked is should Duffy have accepted it.

          As johng points out, the senator’s conflict of interest code quite clearly says no. Not while keeping his job, anyway.

  8. H-mmm…what’s Duffy got on the Cons, that he makes them so beholden?

    • Bingo, what indeed? Why the special kid glove treatment for this guy? Why is Wallin’s separate and not discussed anywhere? And how many times can Harper say he didn’t know about something happening in his own office? Starting to sound like Sgt Schultz “I see nothing; I hear nothing; I know nothing.”

      • Given the PMO controls everything that goes on on the government side of the House, if Harper isn’t aware of what’s happening then our government has effectively been usurped.

        • “… if Harper isn’t aware of what’s happening … ”

          wiki – Plausible deniability is a term coined by the CIA during the Kennedy administration to describe the withholding of information from senior officials in order to protect them from repercussions in the event that illegal or unpopular activities by the CIA became public knowledge.

  9. According to media reports of Duffy’s comments, he didn’t meet with the Deloitte auditors on the advice of the PMO, while the CofS was paying him 90,000. He “stayed silent,” thus possibly affecting the timing of this and other reports.

    So now this information comes out, along with an official press release, while Parliament isn’t sitting–convenient, eh?

    I give the Harper PMO full credit for the Machiavellian sophistication of its communications strategy.

    I wonder what distraction they’ll dream up between now and when Parliament re-convenes to draw attention away from this shameful episode.

  10. Duffy got a personal loan from a friend, friends do that.
    This amounts to nothing more than the media peering into a man’s private life.

    • You should be ashamed of yourself for writing that, mr. Duffy.

      • Andrew Coyne tweets:
        $90,000 may not buy a lot of silence, but it’s a whole lot of “compassion and friendship.”
        Are you Con-bashers so filled with hate you can no longer recognize compassion and friendship?

        • oh, for the love….

        • You mean the Andrew Coyne who started the #DuffyPickupLines on Twitter? Maybe you should look up sarcasm before you analyze his words.

    • Look, I’m in a bit of a pickle. I have to pay my own mortgage. Think I can get Mr. Wright to help me out?

    • Stupid is as wilfully stupid does.

  11. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours comes to mind.
    ——-
    Apr 2010 – Senator Mike Duffy, a former TV journalist, will be the guest speaker at a $150-a-plate black tie fundraising dinner for the federal Conservative party in Niagara Falls next month.

    Feb 2009 – Senator Mike Duffy will be guest speaker March 20 at 7 p. m. at the Galt Country Club. Duffy has embarked on a new career as a member of The Senate of Canada.

    TorStar Apr 2013 – Shortly after his appointment, that was Duffy helping to turn an economic update from the government into a game show in Cambridge, Ont., — not the House of Commons — coaxing voters through a series of adoring lob ball questions for the prime minister, a role he has reprised many times.

  12. I think we should talk to wrights wife to see what she thinks about this little 90K gift….

  13. More than anything, this shows how much Justin Trudeau is in over his head.

  14. So if the old Mike Duffy were to interview the New Harper, I wonder how he would deal with the spin out of the PMO. I can guess what the Old Harper would say to the Old Duffy, but would he say the same thing to the New Duffy? … too meta for me

  15. $90,172, for what amounts to two years of mortgage payments on his Kanata home. That works out to $1734 biweekly. Using a handy mortgage calculator available on pretty much any banking website, that means that we were paying the Puffster’s mortgage on a home worth around $750,000, assuming a 3.00% interest rate and a 25 year amortization (not including any down payment, HMSC, property tax, etc.). Nice work if you can get appointed to it.

    When Senators move away from Ottawa (or die off), do the capital value of these properties go back to the government of Canada, or do they stay with the Senator(‘s family)?

  16. Decades as one of the top TV personalities in the country followed by a Senate appointment and the guy can’t come up with $90,000?
    Must be practicing that same sound Conservative fiscal management that is currently being inflicted on the country.

  17. So if I give as a gift money to a friend who then happens to give to a sister who happens to be married to a Senator or politician who is in the riding where my company want to do some business there but require special legislation the fact that I gave that money indirectly means that there is nothing wrong with that gift. Everyone is ok with this. Because I think Mr Wright should have done something like that to help Mr Duffy.

    • The code specifically includes family members as well.

      So no.. not everyone is okay with this. Not anyone who believes the rules should be followed, anyway.

  18. I never knew Duffy was married until now.

  19. A senator with money problems? How is this? They get buckets of free money from US!

    • NOT ENOUGH FOR PUFFSTER LIFESTYLE, JOHNNY…not enough.

  20. I don’t buy the whole thing about Wright helping out a friend. He’s the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff and he, in effect, allowed a Senator to escape an audit of his questionable expense claims. NINETY THOUSAND DOLLARS WORTH of expense claims. Wright can’t possibly be this stupid. By giving the money, he implicated the PMO in Duffy’s mess. Sorry. I don’t buy it.

    I think that this is about the PMO fearing what’s in Duffy’s expense reports. Duffy is a fundraiser for the CPC so you do the math. Clearly, they felt that Duffy’s reports would be so damaging that it was worth the intervention. They needed 90k and couldn’t dip into party coffers. Reaching “outside” of the circle was risky too but also unnecessary since they happened to have a multimillionaire “inside.”

    One can only hope that the 4th estate will step up here and get their hands on those expense reports. We the taxpayers are entitled to this information.

  21. Trouble is we don’t know what Nigel Wright received or didn’t receive or might expect to receive. Duffy claims in defence of not cooperating with the audit that the PMO told him to keep silent and suggests this was part of the deal. Was this connected in any way to Nigel Wright’s gift? Also, given that the PM, and by extension, the PMO, might benefit politically from a Senator who is at his at his beck and call, did the generous gift come with any such perceived benefit or obligation? We don’t know.

  22. Prohibition: gifts and other benefits

    17. (1) … that could reasonably be considered to relate to the
    Senator’s position.

    *** The gift was relate to the Senator’s position.

    Exception

    (2) A… within the customary standards of hospitality …

    *** The fact that Duffy could not access 90,000 of his money, would mean that it was not a customary transaction between both parties.

    Looks like a breach of the Conflict of Interest Code for Senators.

  23. Hmmm, the only way monetary “gifts” are subject to taxes in Canada are if they are sourced from Employers; which makes one rather interested in exactly how the Conservative Party of Canada decided this was the best way to pay off Mr Duffy’s bill now doesn’t it….

  24. Mike Duffy is ‘a big cheapskate’ He is the type of person who goes to Cuba on an annual vacation & stays in 1/2 star flophouse and cooks his own meals….

    If you go drinking with him, he does not pick up the tab…..or pay for your drinks….
    think that he can charm everybody….

    Senate is like ‘ a retirement home’ for political hacks…this expense claim business has been going on for years….started with Trudeau & Chretien….steve m

  25. Would someone explain to me why senators who illegally use their taxpayer funded expense accounts are not expelled? These guys and one woman are still there even if they are not in caucus.

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