Mike Duffy’s seven-step guide to handling a crisis like a pro

What we’ve learned from the senator from P.E.I.-ish

Lessons from the senator from P.E.I.-ish

Photo illustration by Taylor Shute

Politicians who land in hot water need help managing the crisis and protecting their reputations. Lucky for them, Sen. Mike Duffy has, over the past several weeks, offered a master class in how to get through the worst of it.

Here is Mike Duffy’s seven-step guide to handling a political crisis like a real pro.

1. Belittle. When reporters suggested Duffy was inappropriately pocketing up to $22,000 a year in living expenses (he claimed his primary residence is in P.E.I., even though he’s lived near Ottawa for decades), the senator’s response was to mock them. Do some “adult work,” he said. When that didn’t end the scrutiny, he told one journalist: “It’s none of your business.” This is a great way to win over taxpayers, who love it when a partisan crony—appointed by fiat to a cushy job with a great pension—explains that what he does with their money is none of their concern.

2. Blame. Dodging direct responsibility is essential, as Duffy showed when he emphasized the baffling nature of the Senate’s residency questionnaire. In his defence, the form is an impenetrable brainteaser. Try to stick with me as I walk you through it. The form asks each senator to check a box next to one of the following two statements:

1. My primary residence is within 100 km from Parliament Hill.

2. My primary residence is more than 100 km from Parliament Hill.

Surely this query would confound Stephen Hawking, Doogie Howser and Deep Blue combined! SO PERPLEXING.

3. Dodge. Asked whether he met the Senate’s residency requirement, Duffy replied: “I don’t want to get into all of that because that’s for accountants and heaven knows I’m not an accountant.” This was an excellent answer because everyone knows that only a highly trained accountant, equipped with a calculator and possibly a protractor, is capable of counting all the way to 183—the number of days needed to make a home one’s primary residence. You’re asking me to add? Whoa, let’s leave that to the bean counters! This tactic resonates with the average Joe because who among us hasn’t had difficulty answering trick questions like, “Where do you live?”

4. Deflect. For weeks, Duffy told reporters there’s no story here. He urged them to instead focus on “real issues” like energy development. This is a great gambit because reporters always do what they’re told by a politician who’s up to his neck in it. For instance, if you’re caught cheating on your spouse, just tell those nosy reporters to focus on what really matters: the fact that mangoes are delicious. Yes, when they find you naked in a motel, they’ll probably ask questions like, “What does this say about your personal integrity?” and “What’s with the clown mask?” But give them the skinny on mangoes and they’ll be rushing to the pay phones to yell: “STOP THE PRESSES—I’VE GOT BREAKING FRUIT NEWS!” Works every time.

5. Emote. If playing hardball doesn’t do the trick, be like Mike and try to draw on the sympathies of Canadians. As the scandal wore on, the senator invoked his honest nature and even referred to himself in the third person (“Canadians know Mike Duffy”). This was a brilliant move because when you’re seeking to emphasize your virtue and humility, it’s important to talk like Donald Trump.

6. Flee. Pressed by reporters at an event in Halifax, Duffy opted to improvise his exit—because what better way to say “I have nothing to hide” than by cutting through a hotel kitchen to slip out the back? As the movies have shown us, sneaking through the kitchen is the chosen route of only the most upstanding of citizens, including many of our finest mobsters and assassins.

7. “Admit.” Just as there’s the non-apology apology (“If I offended anyone, then . . . ”), there’s the non-admission admission. The senator played this one perfectly, saying he “may have been mistaken” and insisting that he’s paying back the money only because the issue has become a “distraction.” This is definitely the way to come clean if you want everyone to know you’ve learned absolutely nothing from the experience and you’re caving in only because you’ve run out of ways to cover your backside.

So it’s as easy at that. Next time you’re in deep, follow these simple steps and you too can be regarded with the exact same level of respect that Canadians now have for Mike Duffy, senator from Prince Edward Island(ish).

Follow Scott Feschuk on Twitter @scottfeschuk

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Mike Duffy’s seven-step guide to handling a crisis like a pro

  1. Duffy was just playing the political game, being “parachuted in” to P.E.I., so he could be appointed a senator representing that province. Such is often done when a star candidate is to run in some electoral district, often originating in a different province, in hopes of winning that electoral district or riding in an election, or where a new party leader needs to win a bye-election so he/she can have a seat in the House of Commons. No-one expects the “parachuted” person to really commit to that electoral district, just to rent or buy a place there so it can be called their official residence.

    I have long felt this to be wrong, but it has been a common practice for ages in Canada, both provincially and federally. Perhaps with the current fuss about the practice, it will actually get changed! I hope, but won’t hold my breath.

    • This is true of MP’s, but not of Senators. The Senate was set up to represent the regions of Canada, and unlike the HofC, their numbers do not change with population growth.

      • And, it’s claiming the living expenses that makes it totally unacceptable. If he has any integrity left, after kissing butt to get the appointment and cheating us all this way, he should resign.

        I won’t hold my breath.

  2. If the Senate is the “asshole” of Canada, Mike Duffy is a hemorrhoid

    • Harper on the other hand will never get hemorrhoids. He’s a perfect asshole.

  3. Oh that’s just hilarious.
    And outrageous at the same time.
    Well done!
    The PIG tails are so appropriate.
    Wallin next I hope.

  4. How ironic is it that a former journalist, having chronicled similar stories over the years, wouldn’t be able to see the “right” way through this mess?

  5. Genuinely ‘laughed out loud’ at this one. The pigtails are perfect!

  6. What a great article!

  7. A true flag bearer for the Republicons — never admit defeat, Mike–

    • Looks like emily’s made a new sockpuppet

  8. If we can’t get rid of the Senate, as some people would like to do, let’s at least limit their tenure in the red chamber to an eight year term. Then let them go out and compete in the job market like the rest of us have to.

  9. Lots of bacon there…. oink-oink!

    • now, don’t upset PETA,

  10. That’s a great summary of what happened, and how Mike has proven to be his own worst enemy. This issue will stick to him to his grave. And his tombstone should carry the photo at the head of this article.

  11. He has managed to undermine his years as a credible journalist with this snuffling at the public trough. Shame. Let’s get rid of the senate now!

    • He has managed to undermine his years as a credible journalist…

      “Credible journalist”, lol. Funniest bit on this whole page!


  12. And you get to keep your job?

    • Hi Duff!

    • there’s always E.I.

  13. Great article Scott, and hilarious photo Taylor! Yes, “Canadians know Duffy”, as a crooked bozo.

  14. Give credit to those so called third sorld countries that organize and rise against incompetance corruption and duplicity in their governments.

    The low life money sucking bastards that ride the lucrative public wagon and provide no beneficial service to their constiuents need to be harshly and severly removed from their posts and stripped of title benefits and pensions.

  15. Send this article To Stephen Harper. Its time freeloaders like Duffy and Wallin were cut from the public trough. People like this are supposed to represent us. Sad very sad

    • Trouble is, there’s no mechanism for Harper to get rid of them Only the Senate can do that, and it’s damned difficult. There are good reasons for that but, welcome to the Law of Unintended Consequences.

  16. Looks like Mike ‘Pillsbury Boy’ Duffy won’t be able to have this one easily forgotten.

    Scott Feschuk has written his best piece in years;especially #6–Fleeing through a kitchen.

    Good Stuff Scott!

  17. I’m short and fat and would look good in red pigtails. I don’t live in PEI either. I can’t count too good. I blame that on the fact that I’m not an accountant, not my fault. I’ve taken the short cut through many a hotel kitchen to get to the bar. Why the hell can’t I be a senator from PEI.Love you Mike You are an inspiration to all of us old farts scheming to get on the gravy train.

  18. To get elected in this country or in Mike “meet me at the trough” Duffy’s case get appointed , is when all of a sudden they come down with that dreaded Ottawa syndrome , all for one and none for all ,by the way Scott great article.

  19. P (prison) & EI for the phantom from PEI !

  20. Mike “porkbelly” Duffy is an embarrassment to PEI ……. we all bow our heads in shame!

  21. Is that Belittle or Be Little?
    Tough for duffy to Be Little!

  22. Love the Mike of Green Gables look. Mike Duffy’s performance as a Senator. Knowing that he was a journalist, his current stance is one of real hypocrisy. Great article.

  23. This is the best column yet Mr. Feschuk! Hilarious, Next one on
    our frozen solid leader. I loved this one!

  24. What a inane leftard circus Macleans is!

    It’s demise is waiting in the wings.

  25. Brilliant. Also priceless was “it’s time to turn the page.” No Puffy, it’ll be time to turn the page when you resign.

  26. More sad commentary on how useless the Senate and its membership really are and how funny this piece truly is!