Mike Duffy's 'unsolicited contacts' drew Enbridge warning to PMO

Suspended Senator Mike Duffy's diary may show repeated conversations with Enbridge officials, but a spokesman for the energy firm says they were unsolicited, to the point Enbridge notified the Prime Minister's Office.

Suspended senator's diary shows repeated references to company seeking Northern Gateway pipeline approval

Questions about the substance of suspended Senator Mike Duffy's discussions with the Prime Minister's Office regarding energy company Enbridge remain unanswered following question period Monday. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Suspended Senator Mike Duffy's diary may show conversations between him and officials at Enbridge, but any talks were unsolicited, the company says — to the point it notified the Prime Minister's Office of the discussions.

Duffy's detailed diary, which was made public as evidence in his trial on 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery, features repeated references to conversations with Enbridge, which in 2010 launched the federal regulatory process to build the Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta through British Columbia in a bid to ship oil to Asia from Canada.

Duffy has pleaded not guilty to all charges and his lawyer is raising questions about whether rules existed to prevent the kind of spending for which Duffy has been charged.

Duffy, who was named to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, seemed to follow the debate over TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline and Enbridge's Northern Gateway proposal.

Duffy also frequently refers to Bill Rodgers, a former journalist who worked for Jim Prentice when Prentice was environment minister, and to Vivian Krause, a critic of environmental groups that advocate against pipelines.

Duffy's conversations with Enbridge officials aren't listed in the company's lobbying registrations. However, in an email to CBC News, Enbridge's vice-president of enterprise communications called those conversations "unsolicited."

"Senator Duffy made a number of unsolicited contacts to Enbridge representatives offering advice regarding Northern Gateway, as well as to recommend that Enbridge consider hiring his communications colleague, Bill Rodgers. I personally interviewed Mr. Rodgers but elected not to retain him," D'Arcy Levesque said through a spokesman.

"At no time did Enbridge solicit Senator Duffy's help to lobby the federal government. In the interest of clarity, we also took the extra step to notify the Prime Minister's Office at the time, that Senator Duffy did not represent Enbridge or our interests."

Rodgers got cheque from Duffy friend

A spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper refused to say whether the PMO took steps to deal with Enbridge's complaint, saying the matter is before the courts.

Levesque says the company has been in touch with the lobbying commissioner since a story published by the National Observer earlier this week reported the conversations mentioned in Duffy's calendar.

"Enbridge complies with the Lobbying Act and its regulations," he said. "The nature of our lobbying communications with the Federal government are governed by the provisions of the Lobbying Act, are disclosed in accordance with that Legislation and are recorded in the public registry."

A spokesman for Enbridge says the company follows all Lobbying Act regulations. (CBC )
The registry shows dozens of entries between elected officials, top-level staffers and Enbridge employees in the last year alone.

Rodgers' name has already come up during Duffy's trial as one of the recipients of money that allegedly went through a company run by Gerald Donohue, a friend of Duffy's. The Crown alleges Duffy gave Donohue a Senate contract so that he could pay expenses the Senate wouldn't approve.

Emails and a cheque presented in court suggest Duffy had Donohue pay Rodgers for advice on energy issues.

"Bill Rodgers has been helping me with background on energy issues this month. Do we have enough on hand to send him $2K?" Duffy wrote in an email to Donohue.

Frequent communications

Duffy also communicated frequently with Krause, who runs a blog called Fair Questions where she writes about her concerns that some Canadian environmental organizations receive funding from American donors for their fight against oilsands development.

Under Canadian law, organizations with charitable status can spend no more than 10 per cent of their resources on political activity.

Krause has appeared before Senate and House committees to discuss her concern that environmental activism is being funded as "part of a marketing strategy in favour of American interests."

Duffy appears to be a fan of Krause's work, mentioning her at least 10 times in his daily diary and setting her up with an agent for speaking appearances.

Krause says Duffy called her to ask about her research, and says she's willing to speak with anyone who has questions about it.

"I suppose you really stick your neck out these days if you say anything positive about Mike Duffy," she said. "But the fact is when he contacted me, I thought he was doing what you'd hope any member of Parliament or senator would do, [which] is that when an issue of public interest gets raised you take the time to find out about it."

Duffy kept detailed notes in his calendar, including the names of people he ran into at the airport or in restaurants. He noted phone calls every day, sometimes simply by writing the person's name or the subject of the call.

A PDF version of that electronic calendar has been presented as an exhibit at his trial.