Mike Duffy: In his own words

‘I allowed myself to be intimidated into doing what I knew in my heart was wrong’


A transcript of Mike Duffy’s remarks to the Senate this evening.

Thank you, honourable senators. I want to speak in support of this motion because I believe, after the excellent speech we heard from the leader of the Opposition here in the Senate, that there are a lot of questions that need answers. And while some might argue that having the proceedings before a judge and under oath might be absolutely preferable, given the size of the issue we’re dealing with, any move towards allowing senators to have their say before they’re shipped off I think is a great move and I support it.

I rise here today against the orders of my doctors, who fear my heart condition has worsened after months of unrelenting stress. But given the unprecedented nature of today’s proceedings, I feel I have no other choice than to come here and defend my good name. Like you, I took a solemn oath to put the interests of Canadians ahead of all else. However, the sad truth is, I allowed myself to be intimidated into doing what I knew in my heart was wrong out of a fear of losing my job and out of a misguided sense of loyalty.

Much has been made of the $90,000 cheque from Nigel Wright. I hope I’ll be able to give an explanation of the chain of events and the circumstances surrounding that gift without impugning the rights of others to a fair trial, should criminal proceedings follow.

Let me summarize it this way: On Dec. 3, 2012, the Ottawa Citizen ran a story asking, how could I claim expenses for my house in Kanata when I had owned the home there before I was appointed to the Senate? The inference was clear: I was doing something wrong.

I immediately contacted Nigel Wright, the prime minister’s chief of staff, and explained that I was doing nothing improper. Nigel Wright emailed me back, saying he had my expenses checked and he was satisfied that my accounts were in order, that all was in compliance with Senate rules. In fact, he said, there were several other senators in the same situation. This was in December 2012. Mr. Wright said: The story is a smear.

Following the PMO’s advice, I ignored the media, but the attacks from Postmedia continued and the political heat escalated. So after caucus on Feb. 13 of this year, I met the prime minister and Nigel Wright, just the three of us. I said that despite the smear in the papers, I had not broken the rules, but the prime minister wasn’t interested in explanations or the truth. It’s not about what you did; it’s about the perception of what you did that has been created in the media. The rules are inexplicable to our base. I argued: I’m just following the rules like all of the others. But it didn’t work. I was ordered by the prime minister: Pay the money back, end of discussion. Nigel Wright was present throughout, just the three of us.

The next week, while I was at home in P.E.I., I had a series of discussions on the phone with Nigel Wright. I said I didn’t believe I’d broken the rules and that to repay would be an admission of guilt. Canadians know me as an honest guy. To pay back money I didn’t owe would destroy my reputation.

The PMO piled on the pressure. Some honourable senators called me in P.E.I. One senator in particular left several particularly nasty and menacing messages: Do what the prime minister wants. Do it for the PM and for the good of the party. I continued to resist. Finally, the message from the PMO became: Do what we want or else.

And what was the “else”? He said the Conservative majority on the steering committee of the Board of Internal Economy, Sen. Tkachuk and Sen. Stewart Olsen, would issue a press release declaring me unqualified to sit in the Senate. However, if you do what we want, the prime minister will publicly confirm that you’re entitled to sit as a senator from P.E.I. and you won’t lose your seat. Tkachuk and Stewart Olsen are ready to make that press release now. I said: They don’t have the power to do that. He said: Agree to what we want right now or else.

I made one last effort. I said: I don’t believe I owe anything, and besides which, I don’t have $90,000. Don’t worry, Nigel said, I’ll write the cheque. Let the lawyers handle the details; you just follow the plan and we’ll keep Carolyn Stewart Olsen and David Tkachuk at bay.

There were elaborate undertakings negotiated among the several lawyers involved in this. They were taking instructions from their clients: at least two lawyers from the PMO, one I know of from the Conservative party and my own lawyer. There was an undertaking made by the PMO, with the agreement of the Senate leadership, that I would not be audited by Deloitte, that I’d be given a pass; and further, that if this phoney scheme ever became public, Sen. LeBreton, the leader of the government of the day, would whip the Conservative caucus to prevent my expulsion from the chamber.

PMO officials confided it wasn’t easy to get this commitment to do as they were told from senators LeBreton, Tkachuk and Stewart Olsen, but the email chain shows it took hours of shuttling back and forth as the lawyers checked with their principals about the guarantees they were going to give to ensure that I wasn’t censured for going along with this PMO scheme.

Given all of those emails, you can imagine my shock when I heard there’s not a single document about all of this in the PMO, not one. In response to an access-to-information request, CBC was told there’s not one single document related to this matter in the PMO.

Well, if they’re not in the PMO, they’re in the hands of my lawyers and I suspect in the hands of the RCMP. Why don’t I release those documents now? Because the people involved have rights, which under our system, must be protected. Are the police looking at possible criminal charges? Are they wondering about bribery, threats and extortion of a sitting legislator? This is serious stuff, and the people who were involved and there’s more than those I’ve mentioned here today deserve to have their rights protected. It’s the Canadian way. It will all come out in due course when all of the players are under oath and the email chain can be seen in its entirety.

While all of this was going on in the interim, despite the big agreement, I was sent off to Deloitte, not by the Board of Internal Economy but by the special select subcommittee. Not Sen. Marshall’s group, no, no. I wasn’t sent there. I was sent straight off to Deloitte by senators Stewart Olsen, Tkachuk and Furey — straight to Deloitte.

And then, when Deloitte wanted to see everything including my wife’s bank account, I was told in the reading room in the back: They’ve got all they need. It doesn’t matter. Don’t bother.

After combing my living expense claims, my travel claims, Senate air travel, my cell phone records and Senate AMEX, Deloitte found that I had not violated the Senate rules.

Then, in May, after someone leaked selected excerpts of a confidential email I had sent to my lawyer in February, in which I voiced my opposition and concern about the deal, the PMO was back with a vengeance. I was called at home in Cavendish by Ray Novak, senior assistant to the prime minister. He had with him Sen. LeBreton, leader of the government in the Senate. Sen. LeBreton was emphatic: The deal was off. If I didn’t resign from the Conservative caucus within 90 minutes, I’d be thrown out of the caucus immediately, without a meeting, without a vote. In addition, she said, if I didn’t quit the caucus immediately, I’d be sent to the Senate ethics committee, with orders from the leadership to throw me out of the Senate.

With Ray Novak, my wife and my sister listening in on the call, Sen. LeBreton was insistent: You’ve got to do this, Mike. Do what I’m telling you. Quit the caucus within the next 90 minutes. It’s the only way to save your paycheque, quote.

I understand that caucus disputes are internal and not a matter for the Senate. However, when one’s status as a senator is repeatedly threatened, I believe this amounts to an attack on my independence as a senator and is criminal, or at the very least, a serious violation of my privileges.

Colleagues, like you, this kind of politics is not why I came to the Senate of Canada. It’s not why millions of Canadians voted for the Conservative party. It’s not the Canadian way.

I came here to build a better country, to use my experience as a journalist to help build a better Prince Edward Island. I want to continue my hard work for the island and I can only do that if you follow due process.

Honourable senators, this particular motion, should it pass, would be a serious violation of my human rights, including the most fundamental right of all: to be considered innocent until proven guilty.

That’s a basic right in our democracy. In the words of the Bill of Rights Act of 1960 — one of the great Tory accomplishments in my lifetime and in my view John Diefenbaker’s most important legacy — we are all entitled to fundamental justice.

This motion put forward by Sen. Carignan is in direct conflict with any sense of fundamental justice. Not only is it a firing without a firing, as Sen. Segal has correctly pointed out, it deprives me not only of a paycheque but of a health plan, of life insurance.

This, a guy who came back off sick leave because of a serious heart problem, who’s going to buy the heart drugs I need? What kind of a country do we have when the power can override the sick leave provisions of the federal government of Canada health care act or arrangement.

I’ve got a certificate at home that says I’m a member of the government health plan. Well, guess what? Sen. Carignan has the power to tear it up. It doesn’t matter I gave up a life insurance plan because I had government insurance under the Senate. What, that’s all going to be gone in the twinkling of an eye because of a conspiracy?

Let me repeat, Deloitte investigated, their audit of my expenses related to my home in P.E.I. did not find wrongdoing and they said I had not broken the Senate’s rules. It was the 15 members of the Senate board of internal economy who refused to accept the determination of the independent auditor at Deloitte. Why? I still don’t understand.

And those same senators who conspired to put me in this corner, conspired to destroy my reputation with Canadians, they are going to sit here in judgment of me?

Let me be clear. I’ve violated no laws, I’ve followed the rules and I’ve got a ton of documentation, including a memo, a two-page memo from Sen. LeBreton’s office about it, and I never received a single note from Senate finance or the leadership that suggested anything in my travels was amiss.

In fact, those on the other side will remember how often I was lauded by the prime minister in a weekly meeting for all of the travelling I was doing and all of the assistance I was providing Sen. Gerstein, who has been an honourable man throughout this sad affair.

Serving in this chamber has been, I’ll repeat, the greatest public or professional honour I’ve ever had. Why would I want to subvert it or discredit it in any way? I did not and I do not.

Needless to say, I strongly agree with the remarks made on the weekend by Sen. Segal. This motion is something one might expect to see in Iraq or Iran or Vladimir Putin’s Russia but not in democratic Canada. It is not, I repeat, fundamental justice. Mr. Diefenbaker and Mr. Trudeau, were they here today, would be mortified.

I urge you to defeat these motions or at very least vote in favour of Sen. Cowan’s motion to refer so that people can have their day in court.

Honourable senators and my friends, especially my colleagues on the other side, today you are facing what I faced in February: Be a team player and go along with the PMO and Senate leadership or stand up and do your constitutional duty. I wish I’d had the courage to say No back in February when this monstrous political scheme was first ordered.

Today, you have an opportunity to stand strong and use your power to restrain the unaccountable power of the PMO. That’s what this Senate’s about — sober second thought, not taking dictation from kids in short pants down the hall.

I urge you to say No to these outrageous motions. Tell the whips, ‘My oath as a senator is to put Canada first and that comes before my loyalty to any party or any leader.’

Senators, Canadians are watching. Thank you.


Mike Duffy: In his own words

  1. Candour, one of the great Island virtues.

    • It would seem to me that Duffy is virtuous only when it suits his needs

      • Appropriate enough.

      • And Harper his.

  2. Fantastic! Keep talking Duff…….the truth will come out!

    • suddenly everyone believes everything Duff says…strange

      • When choosing between two liars, I pick the one I loathe the least — and not the one who has the most to lose.

  3. WOW. I guess Harper is now done as is the entire Conservative Party of Canada. Anything else would be ridiculous.

    • You haven’t been watching Quebec and Toronto municipal politics have you? Never underestimate the religion of the blind.

    • Harper is “done” because he told Duffy to repay what he owed the taxpayer???

      • It really is amazing that this so-called “scandal” is only in the news because the PM was insistent on the taxpayer being made whole. Liberal scandals involve taxpayers losing money. In this case, I still can’t see any wrong-doing, only doing the right thing.

        • I think Duffy would argue that everyone (the PMO, Harper, LeBreton, etc…) told him that what he was doing was fine, and even in some cases encouraged him to make some of the claims that he did, the way that he did, and then when it all came out publicly and became a big story they all turned on him and started insisting that he pay back money that they’d previously told him he was entitled to.

          That’s certainly the way Wallin describes things as having gone down in her case. The way Wallin describes events, pretty much everyone in the Party and the caucus that she spoke to was telling her to make her claims the way she did, then those responsible in the Senate approved the claims as she had submitted them, and now, in some cases years later, the same people who told her at the time “Do X”, and later told her “X was a proper expense, here’s your money back” are attacking her for doing X.

        • It really is amazing that this so-called “scandal” is only in the news because the PM was insistent on the taxpayer being made whole.

          To be fair, while one is CERTAINLY entitled to not believe Duffy, he’s made what appears to be a pretty significant accusation against the PM. Duffy says that he was told by Harper that if he didn’t pay the money back a press release would be issued by LeBreton stating that he wasn’t eligible to sit in the Senate. Conversely, if he DID pay the money back, the PM would publicly confirm that he IS eligible to sit in the Senate. Now, Duffy is either eligible to sit or he isn’t, so if that conversation took place, and LeBreton/Stewart Olsen/Harper really intended to follow through on that plan, then either LeBrton and Olsen were willing to publicly declare ineligible a man who actually is eligible, or the Prime Minister was willing to publicly declare eligible a man who isn’t.

          If you believe Duffy (again, plenty of reason not to) then the PM and the Senate leadership were threatening/promising to either publicly declare Duffy a legitimate Senator, or publicly declare him illegitimate, with seemingly no concern whatsoever for which of the positions is actually true.

      • Harper is done because Duffy et al should have been charged criminally. Not given a cheque to pay off his criminal actions. But then again I guess Harper “Mr Ethical” has to be smarter next time in making sure that his criminal friends don’t have to even pony up out of pocket for raping Canadian taxpayers.

  4. ‘I wish I’d had the courage to say No back in February when this monstrous political scheme was first ordered.

    Today, you have an opportunity to stand strong and use your power to restrain the unaccountable power of the PMO.’

    My, this upright bunch of holier-than-thou SoCons can’t throw each other under the bus fast enough! LOL

  5. So now Mike’s the victim. Hilarious. Further proof that we should take this sad joke known as the Senate and put it out of its misery entirely. Kill it.

    • How then would you bribe journalists to throw you the election? Nigel Wright’s tapped out.

    • No. Mike is as unethical as they come. “They” includes Harper and his entire gang of base-whisperers. But he’s great at taking other people down with him. He’s a monster, destroying his own creator. It’s almost poetic.

  6. “Colleagues, like you, this kind of politics is not why I came to the Senate of Canada. It’s not why millions of Canadians voted for the Conservative party. It’s not the Canadian way.”

    Yeah, choke on it Duffy. At this point, your only hope of redemption is to wrap your hands around Harper’s neck on the way down. Squeeze tight, you shameless partisan hack.

    • Truly hard to pick between the liars in this whole affair…but he shouldn’t let go.

  7. Duffy didn’t actually say Harper knew about the cheque…not yet anyway!

    Of course Mikey saying so, don’t make it so. How much worse is this going to get? I’m not sure i’ll be able to sleep tonight for worry.

  8. Duff; you claimed expenses to which you were not entitled. What part of “not” do you not understand? OK, now spin away.

  9. Duffy took taxpayer money that he was not entitled too. Harper told him to pay it back or else.

    Those are the basic facts.

    Harper’s staff handled it badly. They should have just thrown Duffy under the bus to begin with, instead of offering him a face-saving way out. Bad character judgement on their part, not knowing the true nature of the scumbag they had chosen to dance with. Or maybe they did, but then they did not no when to cut their losses.

    It’s going nuclear now, which makes things unpredictable. Harper pushed the Dion “coup” nuclear with prorogation, and won. And then he spanked the aristocratic political dilettante/visitor.

    I tend to think the economy trumps all the political carnival sideshows, but I wouldn’t exactly want to bet money on it.

    I sort of believe that global economic calamity is going to overrun domestic events before the next election, so I find it hard to get overly worked up about the Ottawa-scandal-du-jour.

    A tsunami is a-coming, and my plan has been to dance while the band is still playing, and not care too much if there are any lifeboats.

    • Actually, the basic facts are they told him it was fine.
      Then when enough people found out about it, they told him it wasn’t and he’d have to pay or be audited and thrown out.
      Then they paid and held off the audit.
      Then when people still wouldn’t let up they decided they’d throw him out.

      • That’s one of the facts that really irks me even though no one is talking about it. They, if Duffy is to be believed, paid Deloitte hundreds of thousands of dollars to perform an audit they had no intention of cooperating with. They figured what’s a couple hundred thousand when we need to play games to make ourselves look good in the eyes of our voters?

      • One other pretty revealing thing (if you accept Duffy’s version of events) is the open contempt with which Harper dismisses his much-vaunted base. “Let’s not confuse these idiots with the facts, just respond to their bawling before they stampede.”

  10. I’m not a big fan of twitter but this is priceless…

    Is the story “Mike Duffy is a courageous whistleblower” or “Back off–Mike Duffy is rigged with explosives?”


  11. Duffy is not qualified to sit as a Senator from PEI. He doesn’t meet the primary residency requirements for the job because he doesn’t live in PEI. He’s an Ontario resident in the Ottawa region, and has been for decades.

    That was the scam: Being appointed a ‘PEI Senator’ who lives in Ontario!

    Duffy filed illegitimate expenses for his primary residence in Kanata Ontario totaling about $90,000. They were illegitimate because such expenses may apply only for secondary residences, not primary residences. It was all part of his ‘living in PEI’ scam right from the start.

    Therefore, Duffy should resign from the Senate or be forced out.

    • Harper knew e was not a resident of Prince Edward Island.

      • Indeed — everyone in Canada knew he hadn’t lived in PEI for decades, just as we all knew Wallin didn’t live in SK.

  12. Duffy whines:

    “who’s going to buy the heart drugs I need?”

    If you are suspended from Senate and rightfully lose your benefits, then instead of your neighbors and tax-paying strangers paying for your prescription drugs (which were a result of your glutinous life-style abuses), you are going to have to pay for your meds yourself!

    The horror! The horror! There will be no one to ding for your tab for a change!!

    Cut down on your Double Big Macs and Larger Fries budget and put those savings into your heart pills piggy bank.

    Sounds fair to me.

    • doesn’t the gov’t pay for drugs when one turns 65…is Duff not 65…if so, he knows who will pay for his drugs…he’s just looking for sympathy.

  13. Even unethical individuals like Mike Duffy deserve a slow clap every once in a while.

    *slow clap*

  14. Senator Duffy’s rights are being violated.
    A credible audit determined he did not make false claims. It looks more like the PMO’s office, was and still is involved in a conspiracy to make this controversy go away. The allegations misuse of taxpayer’s money appears to have been ill-founded. The PMO however appears to be more concerned about false public perception that doing what is right. The recent swell of anti-Duffy sentiments appears to be based on false accusations. Taxpayers in general are insecure and ripe to believe such things even if they are not true.
    The Government seems willing to sacrifice Mike Duff’s health and formerly outstanding reputation because they were ineffective in quelling the bad rumors early and now they are all about public perception. Unfortunately in the interim they got implicated in trying to do an improper fix.. The government has since also continued to participate in unethical behind-the-door pressure tactics to get Senator Duffy to resign to help cover up their own improprieties.
    Senator Duffy deserves to have his say. The Government unfortunately continues to dig itself into a hole through their mishandling of the issue. The PMO has mishandled this from the beginning. Now they are trying to cut their losses. My greatest fear is that they might succeed in getting out of the hole but only by willingly sacrificing Senator Duffy’s well being.
    Is this the Canadian way? Give Senator Duffy back his rights!

    • wow!!! for 6 months everyone condemned Duffy…now it’s all sympathy for him.

      • Correction….everyone “was lead by the media to” condem Duffy but we may not have had enough info to form a knowedgeable opinion. YOur opinion is premature. Let’s not condem the man on unsubstatntiated allegtions.
        Do you dismiss the audit that apparently confirmed he did not break the rules? I believe there is more to come out. The question is whether the PMO will co-operate and give full disclosure.

    • “formerly outstanding reputation”
      Best unintentional humour in the entire post.

  15. Poor Duff…he felt “intimidated”…what a joke…he simply wanted to hang on to his job, his salary and his pension. Why did he not run to the media back then instead of waiting until now to start whining and crying…poor Duff, won’t have any money to pay for his heart drugs. This man earned a great salary long before he became a Senator…did he not manage to save a dime. After 6 months of bashing Duff, he has suddenly become “hero” and everyone accepts everything he spews without any question.

    • Your cynicism may not be justified. Senator Duffy deserves to be given his lawful right to defend himself.
      The Government (PMO?) who was willing to sneek him funds to appear he payed things back must have thought he was innocent and hoped this would quickly resolve the matter and keep things quiet. Senator Duffy was pursuaded/pressured(?) to take the money against his judgement however then the PMO(?) scheme was exposed. I can’t see that Sen. Duffy initiated this payment scheme.
      I the issue is more about the government trying to save face. There seems to be reasonable doubt that allegations against Sen. Duffy are false and now informatin is coming out about unsavoury backroom actions including bribery, extortion and menacing threats against Sen Duffy that have been trying to force him to take the fall. His reputation and personal well being it at stake. He shouldn’t take a fall if unjustified regardless if it might embarrass the government.
      Ethics are on the line here and don’t bank on Sen Duffy being on the wrong side of the issue.
      Don’t you think it unusual the PMO claims it has no record of their involvement? I’s sure much more will come out of this. I hope we find the truth.
      Don’t prejudge Sen Duffy’s guilt. You should insist he be given the right to defend himself.

      • I think we’ve just heard from Mike Duffy’s newly retained PR firm.

        • The PMO doesn’t apprear to be willing to practice what they preach when it comes to making things transparent.

  16. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” John Dalberg-Acton

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