Politics

Mike Duffy trial: Senator's friend Gerald Donohue defends credentials

Gerald Donohue, who received $65,000 in contracts from Senator Mike Duffy, had experience as a union representative, human resources professional, and contract negotiator, an Ottawa court heard today. Donohue outlined his credentials while being cross-examined by Duffy's lawyer, Donald Bayne.

Ailing Donohue says he had expertise, skills to serve as consultant for Duffy

Mike Duffy and his lawyer Donald Bayne arrive at court 0:42

Gerald Donohue, who received $65,000 in contracts from Senator Mike Duffy, had experience as a union representative, human resources professional and contract negotiator that qualified him to serve as a consultant to Duffy, an Ottawa court heard Wednesday.

Recapping Donohue's decades of work experience, defence lawyer Donald Bayne said the Crown had focused on the facts he only earned a Grade 10 education and had worked as a television technician. But Bayne chronicled a series of professional and political roles he held over the course of his career.

Bayne asked Donohue if he had the management and administrative expertise to qualify him for consultant contracts with Duffy.

"Well I would certainly think so," he responded.

Donohue, who testified by video link from his home in Carp, Ont., due to various health conditions, told the court he served as a regional union representative, a Liberal Party riding president and an industrial relations consultant for CTV during the 1988 Calgary Olympics. He was designated as a Canadian Human Resources Professional in 1990 and rose up the ranks to became director of human resources for Ottawa television station CJOH.

Donohue said he also acted as an "agent" for Duffy as he negotiated terms with a radio station, including details on program content, pay structure and benefits.

Duffy came to rely on his experience and trust his judgment, he said.

RCMP didn't ask about credentials

Donohue said the RCMP did not ask about his credentials when they carried out interviews during the course of the investigation into Duffy.

Mike Duffy and his wife Heather listen to testimony from the senator's long-time friend Gerald Donohue on Wednesday. (Greg Banning)

The RCMP has alleged that Donohue received the $65,000 in contracts for "little or no apparent work."

During the Crown's examination, Donohue was short on details about services he provided to Duffy. Bayne asked today if ailing health is a factor in his ability to recollect details of the work done for Duffy.

"I believe it is," he said.

Donohue said he spent more than 100 hours a year in telephone conversations with Duffy discussing ideas and giving advice. He spent another 50 hours or more doing web-based research related to aging, seniors and organ transplants, he told court. 

​Bayne also presented a series of emails between Donohue and other parties who provided services to Duffy, including author and broadcaster L. Ian MacDonald, discussing work to be done. 

He also noted that the service contract between Duffy and Donohue was extremely broad, allowing for general advice and counsel and "any other duties that arise." But all his duties were related to parliamentary functions and Senate officials never questioned the terms or payments, Donohue testified.

Donohue issued cheques

In previous testimony in the Ontario Court of Justice, Donohue said he was paid to serve as a "consultant" to Duffy, but also carried out administrative duties that included issuing cheques to third parties on behalf of the senator.

He issued those cheques from the companies owned by his wife Gail and son Matt, Maple Ridge Media and Ottawa ICF, even though he had no cheque-writing authority for them.

Donohue also testified that in 2011, he began receiving $2,000 cheques monthly, because they were having "difficulty" getting lump sums in a timely manner from the Senate. Donohue said he carried out research on aging, mostly by searching on the internet, and for a project on "Why I'm a Conservative."

Gerald Donohue testified at the Mike Duffy trial by video link from his home in Carp, Ont. (Greg Banning)

The Crown has alleged Duffy signed contracts with Donohue as a way to funnel cash to certain contractors, some of whom provided services considered inappropriate or inadmissible under Senate rules.

Duffy, now on a paid leave of absence from the Senate pending the outcome of court proceedings, has pleaded not guilty to 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery related to expense claims and office budgets.

Donohue is expected to wrap up his testimony on Friday afternoon.

Liberal-appointed Senator George Furey is expected to be the Crown's last witness and is slated to be in the witness box next Tuesday.

There is no confirmation yet on when Duffy will testify when the defence begins its case.

Mike Duffy and his lawyer Donald Bayne leave court today 0:51

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