At about 20 minutes to seven, the chair of the Senate’s standing committee on internal economy, budgets and administration called this “highly unusual” public meeting to order and the photographers and cameramen who had waited hours for a shot of the star witness were compelled to exit the room without an image of Senator Michael Duffy, independent, of Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.
The committee nonetheless proceeded with its investigation of Mike Duffy’s whereabouts, beginning, in this case, with whether or not it should have been expected that Mr. Duffy would be here now, in this committee room in the basement of Parliament’s Centre Block, seated in one of these charcoal grey swivel chairs.
“I don’t see Senator Duffy in the room,” Liberal Senator George Furey observed, “and, for the record, has Senator Duffy been notified of the time and place of this meeting and has there been any response from him or his solicitor?”
The chair, Conservative Senator David Tkachuk, called on the committee’s legal counsel to explain.
“I spoke to his legal counsel to inform him of the meeting taking place tonight after the Senate rises,” the counsel counselled, “and there was further communication late this afternoon asking for information in terms of where the meeting is going to take place.”
Senator Furey asked the legal counsel to repeat that last bit.
“There was a further communication this afternoon,” the counsel clarified. “Senator Duffy has written to the chair and the chair referred the email to the clerk of the committee and the clerk of the committee replied to Senator Duffy’s email.”
After some further fussing over the details of this back and forth, Senator Tkachuk noted that it was Senator Duffy who had publicly asked for a public forum. “And we are providing it here today if he wants it,” he explained.
Indeed, just outside this place just four days ago, Mr. Duffy had seemed eager to explain himself.
“I think Canadians have a right to know all the facts, and I’m quite prepared, in the right place and time, to give them the whole story,” he told reporters. “There are bits and pieces out there. It should all be put together in one place, and there will be some place to do that.”
Alas, this was apparently neither the right place, nor the right time.
The committee moved to a review of the findings of Mr. Duffy’s previous whereabouts and expenses. Questions and concerns specific to his whereabouts during the spring of 2011 were raised. A motion to refer this matter to the authorities was proposed and haggled over and amended and passed. A 15-minute break was then had, after which the committee unanimously agreed that the report on Mr. Duffy should include the bits that had been edited out from the original draft. And with that the committee concluded its business for the evening.
The search for something like a full accounting of whatever it is has occurred here continues.