Politics

Duffy trial day 13: Senator was set to do battle over $300 makeup expense, court hears

Mike Duffy was willing to go before a group of his fellow senators to argue that he be allowed to expense $300 for makeup, a provincial court in Ottawa heard today.
Suspended senator Mike Duffy arrives for the 13th day of his fraud and breach of trust trial at the Ottawa courthouse. 1:23

Mike Duffy was willing to go before a group of his fellow senators to argue that he be allowed to expense $300 for makeup, a provincial court in Ottawa heard today.

Testimony at the suspended senator's trial on fraud, bribery and breach of trust charges revealed that Duffy was willing to fight to be compensated for the expense. That information came from Nicole Proulx, the former director of Senate finance, who was being questioned about senators' expenses. She said bills for makeup, personal fitness and personal and family pictures do not fall under parliamentary business and cannot be expensed.

Duffy has pleaded not guilty to 31 charges related to expenses he claimed as a senator and later repaid with money provided by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former chief of staff Nigel Wright.

On the 13th day of Duffy's trial, Proulx testified that she rejected a claim by Duffy in 2009 that he be compensated for makeup services he used before posing for a Senate portrait. Makeup, she said, is not eligible for reimbursement even if used for a Senate-related activity. 

"It's not considered a parliamentary function. And it's considered personal effect,'" she said.

Proulx said she had written a letter to Duffy explaining the reasons for rejecting the claim. She added that he had the option to appeal her decision to the Senate internal economy committee — a group of senators that oversees Senate administration.

Proulx said the makeup issue did end up on the committee's agenda but was withdrawn by Duffy moments before it was scheduled to come up for discussion.

$65,000 worth of contracts

However, the trial has heard that in 2010, makeup artist Jacqueline Lambert received $300 for applying makeup to both Duffy and Harper at a youth event. That payment was made by Gerald Donohue, who was awarded $65,000 worth of contracts by Duffy. The Crown alleges some of that money was used to pay for inappropriate or non-parliamentary services for the senator who represents P.E.I.

Former Senate finance director Nicole Proulx was back in the witness box at the Duffy trial Thursday. (Greg Banning/Canadian Press)

Court has heard that Donohue issued cheques for services expensed by Duffy that included payments to an office volunteer, a makeup artist, a photo processing firm and a personal fitness trainer. Cheques signed by Donohue to pay for those services came from either Maple Ridge Media or Ottawa ICF, court has heard.

Crown prosecutor Jason Neubauer went through some of Duffy's controversial expenses with Proulx. Court has heard that the suspended senator allegedly charged taxpayers $1,500 for photos, framing and picture enhancements.

Proulx said that if the assessment indicated the work was for a personal picture or a family picture, it wouldn't be considered parliamentary and therefore not eligible to be expensed.

Eligible expenses

She said that once the Senate pays for an item, it becomes Senate property so the item has to be something appropriate for the Red Chamber.

Neubauer also asked Proulx about whether compensation for training or fitness training would be an eligible expense. She said it would not. Court has heard Duffy expensed more than $10,000 over a three-year period for what he claimed were consulting services that also included workout sessions with a personal fitness trainer.

As well, Neubrauer asked Proulx if a volunteer could be paid from the senator's resource budget. Court has heard that Ashley Cain was paid $500 for volunteering in Duffy's office for around six months beginning in February 2010. The cheque came from Donohue.

But Proulx said the only rewards allowed are tokens of appreciation valued at a maximum of $100 that are "representative of the Senate or the Parliament of Canada."

​Earlier, Proulx went over the $65,000 worth of contracts Duffy entered into with Donohue. Proulx confirmed the details of contracts from 2009 to 2012. Those details included the dates, who supplied the services, the description of those services and the fact that Duffy had signed the contracts.

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With files from Kady O'Malley

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