Mike Duffy can’t control the story

Tease the day: Questions about the P.E.I. senator’s conduct continue to mount

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

Here’s one version of the story about Senator Mike Duffy: When he claimed a primary residence in P.E.I., and not the suburban Ottawa home where he’d lived for decades, he was legitimately confused about the rules. He ticked the wrong box, inadvertently—oops—and, as a result, accidentally claimed $90,172.24 in expenses.

Earlier this year, during a surprise interview on CBC in his home province, Duffy told viewers they could trust him. He pledged to pay back any money he owed. Eventually, he did pay back all those thousands of dollars. But he had to ask a friend for some help coming up with the dough. Enter the prime minister’s chief of staff, Nigel Wright, a man with plenty of the stuff and a reputation for charity. Duffy was worried about his health, and just as worried about his wife’s financial future should something happen to him. So Wright cut a cheque, called it a gift that need not be repaid, and Duffy reimbursed taxpayers for those improperly claimed expenses.

That’s the innocent telling of the tale. A Senator, just trying his hardest and getting mixed up in paperwork, eventually getting bailed out by a friend.

Unfortunately, there’s more to it than that. The Canadian Press reports that auditors say Duffy “failed to fully disclose his activities and records;” that the government is “refusing to reveal the full breakdown of the senator’s claims;” that, during the last federal election, Duffy may have been claiming Senate expenses “on days he appeared to be campaigning for the party,” and, well, there remain all kinds of questions about that cheque. The ethics commissioner is investigating. A national columnist is asking for a resignation.


What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with the ethics commissioner’s investigation of the conduct of Nigel Wright, the prime minister’s chief of staff, after he gifted $90,000 to Senator Mike Duffy to repay improperly claimed expenses. The National Post fronts Andrew Coyne’s call for Duffy’s resignation. The Toronto Star also goes above the fold with the Duffy affair. The Ottawa Citizen leads, not surprisingly, with the Duffy affair. iPolitics fronts Duffy’s expense claims during the last federal election, when he may have been campaigning for the Conservatives. CBC.ca leads with uncertainty about when the next Canadian will blast off into space. National Newswatch showcases The Canadian Press’ story about Duffy’s expenses during the 2011 campaign.


Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Arctic. Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, the new chair of the circumpolar Arctic Council, yesterday hailed a new focus on economic development and targeted research. 2. Scottish independence. Former Prime Minister Jean Chretien headed to the United Kingdom to offer advice to the ‘no’ side in the 2014 Scottish independence vote.
3. Baby. The Supreme Court is set to rule on the Crown’s appeal of the case of April Dawn Halkett, who gave birth in a Walmart and left the baby when she thought it was dead. 4. Cuban indictment. Two Toronto-area men are being held in Cuban custody—one faces 12 years in prison, the other is held without charge—for crimes against the state.




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Mike Duffy can’t control the story

  1. Mike Duffy: “Screw you taxpayer!”
    Public: “What?”
    Duffy: “Did I say that out loud? Nigel, can you throw me 90,000 bones?

    • Could be but i suspect it’s more –

      Government – Um, Mike, you’ve been claiming a lot of illegitimate expenses.
      Duffy: Screw you.
      Gov.: Um, this could make us look really bad.
      Duffy: Look, I’m a senator now. Free food, high salary, lifetime appointment. Don’t like it? Shouldn’t have appointed a slimeball like me. I pretty much do what I feel like now and I don’t feel like giving the taxpayer their money back.
      Gov: Some of the money was spend during the election so its a campaign expense. We can hide it for now but if it gets out, well, our voters are pretty dumb but may they’re all not THAT dumb.
      Duffy: This seems a lot more like a YOUR problem than a MY problem.
      Gov.: Crap. Somebody get Nigel to write a personal cheque to hide all this.

      • Bingo! Wright was not solving Duffy’s problem, he was trying to solve Harper’s problem. People who are focused on Duffy’s quid pro quo are looking in the wrong direction. Duffy isn’t beholden to Wright, but Harper would have owed him huge (and he would have paid him off huge) if this deception had been carried off successfully.

        BTW, anyone who thinks Harper was out of the loop is still putting their lost teeth under the pillow in faith that the tooth fairy will come.

        • Unless Duffy had some dirt on Nigel and shook him down? Just speculating….

        • You got it!! Great comment.

  2. “Unfortunately, there’s more to it than that.”

    Walter Scott – Marmion:

    Oh! what a tangled web we weave,
    When first we practise to deceive!

    • That was Walter Scott?? I thought it was my Dad who originated that!

  3. Duffy did not co-operate with the auditors, he would not give them so much as a taxi receipt. Now it turns out that some of the expense claims he made were while he was actually campaigning for the Conservatives in the last General Election. Just like Wallin…. That is not a trivial matter. That means that the Taxpayer was paying for some election expenses. The thing is that there is no way for the public to ever really know just how many airline tickets, and other expenses were paid for as ‘Senate Travel’ when in fact they were election expenses. That is because it is Elections Canada that ‘investigates’ offences under the elections act, and we will NEVER know the truth unless the (Conservative) Attorney General actually decides to press charges in a few years. So much for that wonderful ‘independant audit’ of Senate Expenses eh?

    • Si If Dufffy was campaigning for conservatives and they didn’t report it? I wonder how many have gone over their campaign limits?

      • Wallin was stumping and I betcha that’s why her audit is separate. Maybe NIgel wrote a cheque for her fraud too.

    • This here is the very reason why Harper tried to shut down the audit by having Duffy’s bill paid up. It makes perfect sense. There is likely a lot more damaging information in those reports. One can only imagine how bad it is if Harper would so foolishly have his own Chief of Staff pay the tab with his own money. We need to see those expense reports.

  4. As le père Gédéon would have said: en bas de 10,000 piastres c’est de la corruption; plus que 10,000 piastres, c’est de la haute finance.

  5. This story stopped being about Mike Duffy a while back. Avoid getting bogged down in the Duffy details and keep the focus on the PMO. This is now about that office and the guy who runs it. Having Mike Duffy resign, investigated and his privileged pension revoked will only be the first steps in getting back to a Canadian sense of decency and common sense!

  6. It’s almost unbelievable that Wright gave Duffy the money but didn’t tell Harper about it. If that is the case, the only logic would be to provide Harper with deniability. And because Wright was “fond” of Duffy, he gave him $90,000??? If Wright did this and didn’t tell Harper, he should be fired for that, and for his lack of political judgement. If Harper knew and let this go through, his reputation as a political strategist (and as an “average” Canadian) just went down the toilet. This whole thing stinks to high heaven. And I write these words as a former strong supporter of Harper. My reaction can be summed up as, “WTF???”

    • drop the “almost” – anyone who thinks Harper is out of the loop on this sort of thing is incredibly naive

      • exact!

        It would be interesting to see if the “PMO Lawyer” becomes our John Dean.

        And, please, please, let there be tapes! or in keeping with the times, at least a USB stick or some secure cloud storage. Hmm, maybe Toews online spying bill would’ve come in handy . . .

        But what we most need right now is . . . . the dreaded “-gate” descriptor, surely this whole affair merits it?

        • Probably that creepy Art Hamilton lawyer, who seems to be in the background of any number of shady CPC deals.

          Also: Puffygate?

  7. Presumably, it was two guys, one cheque and no witnesses. There’s no way that a discreet guy like Nigel Wright told anyone or anyone with an interest in it becoming public.

    So what’s the bet that the fat drunk is feeling sorry for himself, sitting on his regular bar stool at Hy’s, has his usual five too many, and spills the beans to one of his former journalistic colleagues.

    • The flaw in your two-guys-one-cheque-no-witnesses scenario is that Wright is not stupid. To make such a gift to Duffy, no matter how sorry he felt would be incredibly boneheaded. Nigel Wright is a very intelligent man so it doesn’t add up.

      If I needed any proof that Harper is behind this, I found it in the fact that he didn’t fire Wright. What sane of mind PM would not fire his Chief of Staff for bringing this kind of scandal right on his doorstep?

      This cheque was given to Duffy on Harper’s orders. Harper does not want Duffy’s expense reports to come to light and he’s willing to risk a whole lot to prevent that from happening.

      • Yes, Wright was bailing out Harper Government, not Duffy, not really. At first, Harper was defending Wallin and then stopped — and her audit is outside the Duffy/Harb/Brazeau audit. Now Brazeau has called for the expense reports to be made public: the first thing he’s ever said that I agree with.

  8. Can someone please explain to me how the government can REFUSE to provide information about Duffy’s expenses? Do they have the right to do that seeing as this is taxpayer money?

    • I don’t see how that can be kosher either. After all, he is the accountable prime minister, the transparent one … sheesh

  9. Even Maclean’s has more for us to consider. Mike Duffy your accountant needs to be fired. Oops! Ethics of behaviour is action of perpetrator.

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