Mike Duffy: Notes on a scandal - Macleans.ca

Mike Duffy: Notes on a scandal

Conservative Senators to seek new consideration of Mike Duffy’s expense claims


According to a Conservative Senate source, Conservative senators will be asking on Tuesday that the internal economy committee’s report on Mike Duffy be referred back to the committee so that the committee can investigate yesterday’s reports about Mr. Duffy’s expense claims during the 2011 election.

The Elections Canada guide for parties explains the rules around “expenses of senators and elected members” thusly.

Where a senator, or a person who is an elected member of the House of Commons or any provincial legislature, campaigns on behalf of a party, the expenses related to that person’s involvement in the campaign are campaign expenses of the party and must be authorized beforehand by a registered agent.

For example, if a minister or other member of Parliament travels from Ottawa to assist in the party’s campaign, the costs of travelling to the district, and the costs of accommodation and transportation within the district, are considered campaign expenses of the party.

However, if the minister’s trip is carried out in conjunction with an official government function, using government?paid transportation, then the chief agent must allocate a proportionate share of the transportation, and accommodation and any other expenses to the party as an election expense. This allocation should be made on the basis of the proportion of time spent on each activity.

Elections Canada will accept the basis of allocation used by the chief agent, provided that it is reasonable, in the opinion of the Chief Electoral Officer, and provided that the auditor agrees that the allocation is reasonable and in keeping with this handbook.

The chief agent or registered agent must pay the expenses of senators and elected members incurred while campaigning for a party because senators and elected members of Parliament are not eligible contributors to a party’s campaign other than as individuals.

The handbook for candidates has similar language.

If a senator, a minister or another candidate campaigns on behalf of the candidate, the expenses related to that person’s involvement in the campaign are election expenses and have to be authorized in advance by the official agent, the candidate or a person authorized in writing by the official agent. Any travel expense has to be reimbursed using campaign funds or accepted as a non-monetary contribution if paid by an eligible contributor.

The Prime Minister’s director of communications spoke with reporters this morning. John Geddes looks at what he had to say.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is scheduled to depart for Peru on Tuesday afternoon and return on Friday evening. He’ll presumably take questions from reporters during the trip to the Pacific Alliance Leaders’ Summit—perhaps on Wednesday—but he’ll be away from the House all next week.

Scott Reid, former director of communications to Paul Martin, says Nigel Wright “will have to go.”

Update 1:06pm. NDP MP Craig Scott has written to the Commissioner of Canada Elections to ask that he investigate Mr. Duffy’s actions during the last campaign. The full letter is here.

In terms of Mike Duffy, audits performed by Deloitte indicate that Senator Duffy was listed as being on Senate business at an “other location” during six days of the month of April, wholly during the writ period. There is also evidence of Senator Duffy campaigning for the Conservative Party of Canada and for various local Conservative candidates throughout the writ period. Some of these local campaigns have stated in their financial reports that they reimbursed the Senator directly for his trip expenses. Given that the Senator claimed taxpayer-funded Senate per diems on several occasions during the month of April, it raises the question of whether Mr. Duffy claimed both expenses on the same days. 

This also raises concerns over whether Senator Duffy charged Conservative campaigns for the full cost of his travel, or whether part of these costs were unfairly born by the taxpayer and possibly constitute an unclaimed campaign expense. I note that the Elections Canada Act specifically prohibits the concealment of donations under the “Contributions” section of the act…

Given that Senator Duffy apparently refused to co-operate with the Deloitte auditors and reportedly failed to fully disclose details regarding his whereabouts and activities during the 2011 election campaign, we are asking that you initiate an investigation to determine whether any money was improperly used or concealed by Senator Duffy, the Conservative Party of Canada or any of the local campaigns involved.

Mr. Scott also cites several other senators whose expenses he would like to see scrutinized.

Update 3:58pm. Via email, a comment from Senator Grant Mitchell, who is referenced in Craig Scott’s letter.

While the paper files are archived and we are getting them asap, all the electronic info my office and the Senate Admin have confirmed that I claimed absolutely nothing for the writ period from the Senate. It was certainly my policy and recollection, confirmed by the data I have right now, that I claimed nothing from the Senate. I even shut down my Senate web site. I am pushing to get the archived files.

It might be that the NDP have checked the election expense reports submitted by campaigns which may have included expenses attributed to my visit to a constituency(s) to campaign(s), for example. This is done so there is clear reporting on that spending is within election limits. I recollect that I got no direct reimbursement from any campaign either.

Update 5:40pm. The NDP’s director of fundraising has just sent out a note, entitled “90,000 reasons to abolish the Senate.”

Enough is enough. It’s time to abolish the Senate. Make a special one-time donation to our Senate campaign today…

Donate to our Senate campaign right now. Your donation of $5, $10 or $50 will help pay for websites, emails and online advertising – all the tools we need to send Stephen Harper and Mike Duffy a message they can’t ignore.

Update 5:55pm. And now Pamela Wallin has left the Conservative caucus.