Mike Duffy drops another bombshell: there were 2 cheques
Embattled senator implicates Conservative Party lawyer in latest Senate tirade
Senator Mike Duffy let loose in the Senate again Monday, alleging the prime minister's former chief of staff arranged for not one cheque to him, but two.
Duffy told the Senate he has a cheque, negotiated by Nigel Wright, in the amount of $13,500 to pay for his legal fees, on top of the $90,000 from Wright to be used to repay his expenses. Duffy said he has the emails and the cheque stub to prove it, adding the $13,500 was paid by the Conservative Party's top lawyer, Arthur Hamilton.
"That's right," thundered Duffy. "One cheque from Nigel Wright? No, ladies and gentlemen, there were two cheques, at least two cheques."
The cheque, tabled by Duffy Monday, is signed by Hamilton, and made out to Duffy's lawyer's law firm.
- Listen to Mike Duffy's speech in the Senate Monday
- Read the documents tabled in the Senate Monday by Duffy
- Harper says Nigel Wright 'dismissed' over $90K Mike Duffy cheque
- Mike Duffy vs. Stephen Harper on Senate expenses: a timeline
- Senate expenses: what you need to know
Later on Monday, the communications director for the Conservative Party confirmed it had paid Duffy's legal fees. In an email to CBC News, Hann wrote, "At the time these legal expenses were incurred and paid, Mike Duffy was a member of the Conservative caucus. The Conservative Party sometimes assists members of caucus with legal expenses."
Subsequently, a spokesman for the prime minister issued a statement reacting to Duffy's revelation about how his legal bills were paid by Hamilton. Jason MacDonald said, "Nigel Wright is on the record naming those he informed of his arrangement with Mr. Duffy, and he's assumed sole responsibility for his actions. The prime minister was not aware of the arrangement and had it been presented to him he would not have approved of such a scheme. "
Although Wright's lawyer named four people who knew of the cheque to Duffy, he did not name Hamilton.
'Independent senators or PMO puppets?'
Duffy, even more of a showman than he was in his first blast in the Senate a week ago, said he was once again disobeying doctors' orders by submitting himself to stress, "toxic to my heart."
He'd just come directly from Ottawa's Heart Institute, he said, and for a few seconds he plugged the cardiovascular centre, suggesting donations would be worthwhile, before saying, "Maybe that's not in order."
Once again, Duffy didn't seem frail, but on top of his game, his voice booming through the Senate chamber. "They suggested a pattern of abuse," he said of the charges against him. "A pattern," he repeated, his tone reflecting the insult of that word.
"Are we independent senators or PMO puppets?' roared Duffy, referring to the machinations of the Prime Minister's Office.
His address was full of rhetorical flourishes as he repeatedly asked questions he would then answer himself, conjuring up dialogue he imagined had happened.
"Well, guess what?" he asked. "The PMO didn't like that. Duffy wants to go public? We'll fix him."
Taking aim, Duffy brought up Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen, Harper's former press secretary. Wright wrote him, he said, assuring him his expense claims were proper, saying, "I'm told you complied with all the applicable rules and there would be several senators with similar arrangements."
Was Wright referring to Stewart Olsen, Duffy asked, a senator appointed to represent New Brunswick, who, he said, "took two years to move from her home in Ottawa to her home in New Brunswick."
Stewart Olsen, who just resigned from the Senate internal economy committee that passed judgment on Duffy's expenses, has denied she has been asked to repay any money to the Senate.
Duffy referred several times to an "email chain" he said is in the hands now of his lawyer and, he hopes, the RCMP. The emails, he said, would show the involvement of not only Hamilton, but former PMO lawyer Benjamin Perrin, who Duffy said "is actively involved in vetting resolutions for the party's national policy meeting in Calgary."
Duffy said what he called "this monstrous fraud" against him was a creation of the PMO from the beginning.
"Have you heard enough," asked Duffy, "or do you want to hear more?" as senators in the chamber listened.
Duffy overran the 15 minutes he was allowed to speak, but the Speaker granted him a few more minutes.
Invoking the Magna Carta and former prime minister John Diefenbaker's bill of rights, Duffy urged the government leadership in the Senate to withdraw these "dangerous and anti-democratic motions, declare victory and go off to Calgary to celebrate the government's many substantial achievements for Canadians."
Duffy also said what he called mistakes made in filing his expenses, excluding the housing allowance related to his claim to have a primary residence in P.E.I., amounted to only $2 a piece, "the price of a Tim's," he said, considering he also undercharged for some filings
On Monday, Wallin, who was present in the Senate chamber but who did not speak, tabled transcripts from two August meetings of the Senate internal economy meeting. One gathering was attended by the Deloitte auditors; the other was a discussion of the committee itself of Wallin's expenses.
Brazeau appeared on CBC News Network's Power & Politics, telling host Evan Solomon that Claude Carignan, the government Senate leader, told him privately that if he apologized, his proposed suspension might be reduced to one year, rather than two. Brazeau also said that although he is under investigation by the RCMP, he has not been interviewed or approached by them.
Email with the PMO
During the Politics& Politics broadcast, Soloman received an envelope containing an email exchange that is allegedly between Duffy and a former PMO staffer, Chris Woodcock. These emails were not tabled Monday by Duffy.
Woodcock, who now works elsewhere in government, is said to be one of three PMO staffers who had knowledge of the agreement for Wright to personally repay Duffy's expenses.
Woodcock wrote to Duffy shortly before midnight on May 14, the same evening a CTV News broadcast revealed Duffy's expenses had been repaid by Wright. He asked if Duffy had disclosed to the Senate ethics officer if he'd received a gift or loan, referring to Wright's cheque.
"No," Duffy replied the next morning, "Anyone who asked was told the truth: that I paid with a personal cheque on my RBC account."
The emails may have been leaked to discredit Duffy by attempting to prove he wasn't telling the truth to someone within the PMO. However, Duffy may have been using what he has described as his "communications lines" or "scenario" in which he would publicly claim he had personally repaid the $90,000 he owed for housing expenses.
Duffy's latest broadsides against the PMO and Conservative Senate leaders came after CBC News learned there will be no decision Monday on a change to the motions to suspend senators Brazeau, Duffy and Wallin without pay over their expense claims.
The Senate has been debating facing motions put forward by Carignan, the government Senate leader, last Tuesday that would strip the three of their pay, office use and all benefits until the next session, about two years.
But in a caucus meeting Monday, Conservative senators discussed whether to amend the motions to allow for a more lenient penalty for three senators — one that would bar them for a shorter period of time and allow them to keep their benefits.
Another amendment proposed by Liberal Senate Leader James Cowan would refer the issues of the suspensions to a Senate committee in which Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau could make presentations, ask questions and be represented by their lawyers. However, that motion likely won't come to a vote Monday.
Also on Monday, the Conservative leadership in the Senate was supposed to move a motion that would limit debate on the suspension motions. For some reason, Carignan did not move it, and if he waits until Tuesday, a vote on the suspensions would not occur until at least Friday, well into the Conservatives' Calgary convention that begins Thursday evening.
The entire caucus, MPs and senators, are expected to attend the convention, which was postponed earlier because of the Calgary floods.
Open to amendments
Carignan himself seems open to lighter penalties, especially for Brazeau and Wallin. He told Radio-Canada that Brazeau believed he could legitimately charge expenses due to claims he lived out of town because of documents he obtained from Senate administration staff.
"I believe he didn't interpret them properly, but we see there was an element of good faith," Carignan said.
Wallin, Carignan continued, made "an impassioned plea, a good plea" before her Senate colleagues, but he seemed to draw a line at Duffy.
Duffy, said Carignan, "chose to settle political scores" in his speech to the Senate last Tuesday.
However, both Harper and Senator Marjory LeBreton, the former government Senate leader, said in interviews on private broadcast stations early Monday that a majority of Conservatives favour the suspension motions as they are, without amendments.
Conservative Senator Hugh Segal, who is against the motions to suspend, said to reporters as he went into the Conservative caucus meeting Monday, "What Harper says is very important, but our oaths to our majesty to do what's right — that's more important than what a politician says."
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, talking with reporters before a meeting with private-sector economists, said he doesn't want to be distracted by answering questions about whether Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau should be suspended.
"I'm actually an advocate of abolition of the Senate." Flaherty said. "I always have been, and I think just in this day and age to have a non-elected legislative body is an anachronism."