Five things learned Wednesday from Duffy's second day of witness testimony

The Canadian Press
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In this artist's sketch, P.E.I. Sen. Mike Duffy, a former member of the Conservative caucus, testifies at his trial in Ottawa on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015.

OTTAWA - Five things to take away from Wednesday's second day of testimony from Sen. Mike Duffy at his fraud, breach of trust and bribery trial:

1. Right after his appointment to the Senate, Duffy says he was told to file housing allowance claims and per diems while staying at his home in Ottawa, indicating it was his secondary residence. He says senior Conservative Sen. David Tkachuk suggested this would insulate him from criticism that he didn't live in Prince Edward Island and didn't qualify to represent it.

2. Duffy spent $98,500 upgrading his cottage in Cavendish, P.E.I., to make it a year-round residence, including pouring a deep foundation and installing a drainage system on the property. That amounted to nearly $20,000 more than the Senate funds he claimed against the residence in Ottawa.

3. Former prime minister Stephen Harper would make comments on important documents using removable sticky notes in order to avoid leaving “fingerprints” later, Duffy testified. He said Harper's principal secretary Ray Novak was Harper's “shadow,” and would act as a conduit for messages to and from his boss.

4. Duffy and his wife received a total of $162,595 in inheritances from family members between 2011 and 2013, all of which was non-taxable. The details were emphasized in court to discredit the Crown theory that Duffy was living beyond his means, giving him a motive for fraud.

5. Duffy's former Conservative colleague John Wallace wrote a prescient letter to key Conservatives at the height of the spending scandal in 2013, arguing that Duffy and Pamela Wallin were only following the rules as they were written when they filed their claims. Wallace, who recently left the Conservative caucus, believed the Conservative Senate leadership should have stood by the senators, while acknowledging the rules needed fixing. “I think this will be the only way to diffuse the obvious blowback and media hysteria that will flow from Duffy's repayment,” he said.

Geographic location: OTTAWA, Prince Edward Island, Cavendish

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