What you need to know from the new Duffy documents

John Geddes on today’s Senate revelations


Adrian Wyld/CP

Mike Duffy took command of centre stage on Parliament Hill again today in his inimitable way. His speech was a reprise of last week’s grandiloquent performance. But beyond the rhetoric, the independent senator from Prince Edward Island, after letting loose in the Senate chamber, also tabled selected documents (see below).

The most intriguing is surely a April 3, 2013 note, signed by Conservative party lawyer Arthur Hamilton, on the letterhead of the law firm Cassels Brock, confirming delivery by courier of a cheque for $13,560 to Duffy’s lawyer. This does seem to lend considerable weight to Duffy’s claim that the party, far from viewing him then as a wrongdoer who needed to be sanctioned, regarded him then as a loyalist whose legal costs the party felt it should pay.

Why would the party hold that favourable impression of Duffy? Perhaps because senior Conservatives didn’t think he’d done anything wrong from the outset. That certainly seemed to be the opinion of Nigel Wright, back when the then-chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper wrote a Dec. 4, 2012, email to Duffy, also tabled this by the embattled Senator this afternoon. In this brief note, Wright expresses his understanding that Duffy “complied with all the applicable rules,” and, referring to a news story on Duffy’s expenses commiserates that it “sure seems to be a smear.”

Going back even further, on the fundamental question of whether Duffy, who mostly lives near Ottawa, can legitimately sit as a PEI senator, Duffy tabled a Senate memoradum on qualifications, which includes this remarkable passage: “I checked all of the authorities on the Senate and residency is not defined. My interpretation of this is that there has been a longstanding convention that so long as a Senator owns preoperty in his or her province of appointment then they are allowed to sit as a Senator from that province, even if they live in Ottawa 99 per cent of the time.”

Much more to come here on Macleans.ca from my colleague Aaron Wherry, who has been in the Senate covering yet another entertaining, unpredictable afternoon of debate.

Contact information included in the original documents has been removed.

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What you need to know from the new Duffy documents

  1. The only thing I need to know is when these douchbags are leaving.

    • 2015 election is one possibility…re Harper.

  2. That is not a cheque from party funds.

    • It’s a cheque from Cassels Brock. The question is: Where did they get the money? If you know for certain, please speak up.

      • Who paid for Mac Harb`s legal bills. Please speak up, Justin. I cannot hear you! :))

        • Oh look – a distraction noodle! Sorry Francien – keeping my eye on the bowl.
          How about you answer the question I’ve been asking you for days – and which you assidiously refuse to acknowlege? How do you feel about Harper getting caught in his web of lies? Twice now this week…

    • It from a trust account. Presumably, as the party lawyer, Hamilton keeps some party funds held in trust.

  3. All this increasingly : in a court of law under oath with lawyers: from Stephen Harper down to all the minions.

  4. Yes, good question by John Geddes; why would any party support its embattled senators.

    How much did the Liberal Party Fund pay for Mac Harb`s legal fees!

    Canadians have right to know!

    • Let’s clean up the ruling party first, then we can focus on 2nd or 3rd parties.
      Posting these same lame talking points on multiple forums under different usernames is not going to keep your man Steve in office. Time to start looking for a real job.

  5. Where’s the invoice dated March 4, 2013? The cheque doesn’t mean anything without an explanation of what the payment is for. FINTRAC, at the very least, would want some explanation of what was being paid for.

  6. Duffy understood politics better than the PMO here. There’s a hint of Reform honesty, and naiveté in the way Wright seemed to think paying the disputed expenses and then hashing it out as to whether it was more or less a partisan attack was the way to go. Duffy knew it would make him look guilty through the news and political filter and that he would have preferred to stand his ground.

    I’m really interested in his claim that $500 dollars was the sum total of his inappropriate expenses. Was he taking advantage of weak rules for the rest and only technically clean or actually mostly clear? I kind of doubt it but in any case it’s more important to fix the Senate rules than anything else:

    Either reform expense income out of the picture or make expenses cover only a percentage of claims so the senator pays their own money in proportion to the costs they’re billing.

  7. Government has much ado about nothing! .
    What about supporting average Canadians out of poverty. Dignity and wellness is within our reach.

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