Mike Duffy trial: Crown shines light on payments made by senator's friend
Journalist Mark Bourrie testifies he was surprised to receive cheque after giving Duffy advice
The Crown in the Mike Duffy Senate expenses trial continues to shine light on the fact that the suspended senator paid for some services through companies owned by Gerald Donohue, one of his friends.
On the ninth day of the trial in provincial court in Ottawa, journalist Mark Bourrie testified he was paid $500 in 2010 from Donohue's company Maple Ridge Media. He added that he had no dealings with Donohue before receiving the cheque.
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Duffy awarded contracts valued at around $65,000 to Donohue. The Crown alleges that Donohue, through his own companies, paid for inappropriate or non-parliamentary services for Duffy.
Bourrie, who had a social relationship with Duffy, said he received the payment after he had provided the senator with advice on how to deal with internet trolls defaming his reputation.
Bourrie testified that he was almost positive that the issue of being paid never came up and that he didn't expect or request the cheque. He said he was "kinda surprised" to receive it.
He also testified that he didn't think of the payment as a "government cheque," but thought it was coming from a company owned by Duffy.
"I thought It was Mike Duffy's money," Bourrie said.
Duffy has pleaded not guilty to 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery related to expenses he claimed as a senator and later repaid with money provided by the prime minister's former chief of staff, Nigel Wright.
Under cross-examination from defence lawyer Donald Bayne, Bourrie agreed that Duffy was being "savagely defamed," and that he, Bourrie, based on his credentials, was giving Duffy meaningful advice. Bourrie also agreed that the payment was for "real work done" and that a substantial amount of that work clearly related to Duffy's reputation as a parliamentarian.
Bourrie also testified that no kickback from the cheque was given to Duffy.
Former Sun News host Ezra Levant, who wrote some speeches for Duffy five or six years ago and was set to be a witness today, is now expected to testify on Monday.
Earlier, the court heard from Elizabeth Brouse, who worked in marketing at MQO Research, an East Coast-based research company that compiles political polling data for the area and sells that information online through $5,000 subscriptions.
Brouse said her company agreed in 2012, after conversations with New Brunswick Senator Percy Mockler, to allow five senators, including Duffy, to use their service and split the regular rate. That would mean the senators would pay around $1,000 each.
She said when she sent a welcoming letter to Duffy, he contacted her saying he didn't know what the letter was all about. When Brouse explained her company's service, Duffy asked if he could be sent an invoice before the end of the fiscal year, Brouse testified.
Brouse said she later contacted Duffy when her company had not received a payment. She said Duffy complained he was being harassed for money for a service he had never used.
When it was determined that Duffy had never logged on to use MQO Research's data, company executives agreed that he wouldn't have to pay, Brouse testified.
But when Duffy was informed of the decision, she said the senator agreed he would pay but asked if her company could resubmit the invoice with a new date.
She said the company received a cheque in the amount of $1,054.66, which was paid from the account of Ottawa ICF, a company that was owned by Donohue. She said she had had no dealings with Donohue before receiving the cheque.
On Thursday, three witnesses testified about services they provided that were paid for through companies then owned by Donohue.
The court heard from Mike Croskery, a personal fitness trainer, who said Duffy expensed more than $10,000 over a three-year period for what he claimed were consulting services that also included workout sessions.
Makeup artist Jacqueline Lambert, who applied makeup for both Duffy and Prime Minister Stephen Harper for a 2010 youth event, testified she believed the $300 payment she received was for the makeup services of both men.
And Ashley Cain, a former volunteer in Duffy's Senate office, testified she was paid $500 for volunteering for around six months beginning in February 2010. She said Duffy had offered to pay her for doing good work.
All three said they were paid for their services through Donohue's companies — Maple Ridge Media or ICF, its successor. As well, all three testified that they had no dealings with Donohue at all before receiving cheques from his company.
With files from Kady O'Malley, The Canadian Press