Stephen Harper's chief of staff personally bailed out embattled Sen. Mike Duffy

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Senator Mike Duffy

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff personally footed the $90,000 bill for embattled Sen. Mike Duffy's improper housing expenses.

Harper spokesman Andrew MacDougall says Duffy was unable to come up with the money following an external audit, so Harper's right-hand man Nigel Wright stepped in.

“The government believes that taxpayers should not be on the hook for improper expense claims made by senators,'' MacDougall said in a statement.

“Mr. Duffy agreed to repay the expenses because it was the right thing to do. However, Mr. Duffy was unable to make a timely repayment. Mr. Wright therefore wrote a cheque from his personal account for the full amount owing so that Mr. Duffy could repay the outstanding amount.''

A government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said Wright and Duffy are friends and that Wright offered the money as a gift rather than a loan.

Duffy had been experiencing financial difficulties, the source said.

The Prime Minister's Office is emphasizing that Harper knew nothing of the arrangement and that no taxpayer money was used to cover the repayment.

The NDP said the news of Wright's involvement underscores the need for an independent inquiry into the expense scandal.

Charlie Angus, the party's ethics critic, said the problems won't disappear.

“We have the abuse of taxpayers' dollars, the leaking of a confidential audit report and allegations of a 'cash-for-repayment' scheme quarterbacked right out of the PMO,'' Angus said.

“The dark cloud of ethical failures hanging over the Prime Minister's Office is growing larger.''

Liberal Sen. Mac Harb and former Conservative Sen. Patrick Brazeau are fighting the Senate over tens of thousands of dollars in housing expenses they are being asked to repay.

The Conservative government has been highly critical of both Harb and Brazeau, while declaring the case closed on Duffy's expenses. Last week, Conservative House leader Peter Van Loan said Duffy had shown “leadership'' when he made the repayment.

The Senate is now refusing to reveal the full breakdown of Duffy's expense claims, even after an outside audit firm noted they were unable to get a full picture of Duffy's expenses.

Duffy failed to provide auditors at Deloitte with financial statements, credit-card bills, or information on where he was when he billed the taxpayer for daily expenses. He also did not meet with the auditors, despite requests.

By looking at Duffy's Senate cellphone bills, Deloitte eventually turned up one unusual charge: daily expenses incurred while he was in Florida. Duffy's office had listed him as being on Senate business, but Duffy called that a clerical error.


... More on this story later, full details in the print and e-editions of The Guardian tomorrow.


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Recent comments

  • Joe Ontario
    May 16, 2013 - 00:49

    I'm thinking Nigel Wright signed over the $90,000 from his own money knowing he can scam it from donations made by the Conservative base. The ole switcheroo. Reminds me of the Palin Super Pact when someone (she) raised funds for a presidential race she likely never intended to run in. Then made off with millions. The two aren't related; yet they are. I'm not saying all North American power conservatives act this way. But it is the way they think.

  • Buster
    May 15, 2013 - 21:21

    Welcome to the slimy world of Ottawa politics. If you think for a minute the PM knew nothing about this, I have a bridge to sell you. This whole affair is very discouraging. The people who have been elected or chosen to act on behalf of their fellow citizens should have better morals and judgement than this. Ms. LaBreton, who until now was held in very high esteem' is succumbing to the world of political spin like manyothers. The sense of entitlement, arrogance and disrespect for the citizen is astounding. No matter how they try to spin this people can see through it and are fed up with the BS of those who should lead by example but forego their responsibility for party politics and greed. Shameful

  • monica
    May 15, 2013 - 21:18

    I am simply asking the following questions: 1) why has mr.mike duffy not resigned yet?or been removed from the senate? 2) what gives him the right to steal from canadian taxpayers? Giving back someone elses's money does not clean the slate? 3)Do gifts to politicians not have to be reported and also recorded s income? And 4) When will a full investigation of all senate members begin? Clearly there are more than three thieves . When you start turning over rocks, more will start to crawl out. I are tired of paying taxes to people who dont deserve it.

    • slaybox
      May 15, 2013 - 22:58

      1. once a senator is named to the senate they can only be removed for the following reasons, a. Failure to attend two sessions of Parliament, b. Declaration of Bankruptcy, c. Conviction for treason or a felony, or d. Ceasing to reside or own property in the represented area (technically he doesnt fit #4 but because he signed declaration of residency [i could be wrong on title of the doc] LeBreton says legally speaking he is a resident. However, if hes having money problems and didnt get help from PMO chief of staff and had to declare bankruptcy he could have been removed). 2. He has no right, but to me, the bigger issue is that it took so long for the bureaucracy to figure this out. People are always gonna be stupid, but its up to our gov't system to make sure they dont take advantage of the system. 3. Senators are not allowed to accept gift or benefit except those that are authorized by the law (this one definitely is not) and Nigel Wright is the PMO chief of staff under special circumstances, because of his private sector job and the associated conflict of interest he had to distance himself from his position and holdings (so its difficult to figure out where Wright even got $90,000 when the PM himself has a salary of only $159,000 and Wright daily and living expenses arent being covered by government.) 4. When Canadians actually pay full attention and demand more of themselves and their politicians. Sorry for being long winded, but I enjoy answering questions.

    May 15, 2013 - 20:49

    Just in case you missed it, there was a beautiful cartoon of Mike Duffy on the editorial pages of the Sun Media newspapers on Saturday, May 11TH, showed Mike sitting on the ground with jars of "Taxpayer Honey" around him. He has his hand in one of the "Taxpayer Honey" jars. From Mike's mouth, the caption say "Its not wrong if you are willing to pay it back..." Mike, do the honourable thing...RESIGN FROM THE SENATE NOW!!!!! You are an embarrasment to the Conservative Party of Canada, the Senate, and most of all to the good honets, law abiding citizens of Prince Edward Island.

  • Dubvious
    May 15, 2013 - 20:36

    What did Duff see or witness that he is being silenced for.. Something is up and it stinks. Its obvious he is being courted to shut his big mouth... Dig deeper you are almost hitting "oil"...

  • FedUp
    May 15, 2013 - 20:21

    No wonder Harper has a low opinion of Maritimers if duff and mackay are the only two he knows. On the other hand, his choice of friends absolutely confirms my low opinion of him.

  • Gerry
    May 15, 2013 - 19:49

    Mr. Duffy just keeps digging the hole deeper and deeper. However, the hole is becoming a canyon, as others are falling in behind him. Is the man totally devoid of all common sense? Mr. Harper, if you wish to retain any credibility as a Conservative leader, you will sever the tie with Mr. Duffy, as have common sense Islanders, which we do realize he never actually represented.

  • Beyond Contempt
    May 15, 2013 - 19:45

    Duffy is not an honourable man - nor is he a man of his word. In his own words / he is beyond contempt. What exactly is Harper thinking by coveting this all up? Well the blood hounds have the scent now and this will not go away until Duffy gets turfed. To expect Canadians to pay this mans salary until he reaches 75- and then a pension is beyond contemptible.

  • MIKE
    May 15, 2013 - 19:20

    more goverment BS

  • Donnie
    May 15, 2013 - 19:13

    Some transparency in the Harper Reich finally! They now make the bribing & cover up process open to the public!

  • squirt
    May 15, 2013 - 19:10

    As stated above, there is an online petition, Google, or you can find it on Facebook. Sadly though, I see hundreds of comments daily, but very few actually standing up and signing this petition. It is obvious if we don't stand up for ourselves, they we may as well just consider ourselves doomed.

    May 15, 2013 - 18:16

    What a disgusting embarrasment for all Islanders. Harpers finest at work again,where is the Canada Action Sign for this gem.

  • I'm Just Saying
    May 15, 2013 - 18:02

    If Mr. Duffy received a $90,000 'gift' shouldn't it be reported as income and taxes paid on it?? Will someone in the PMO also pony up the income taxes owing? Where does this stop?? Mr. Duffy needs to step down NOW, let justice take its course and serve whatever penalties ensue. Mr. Duffy, it looks like you have been at the trough way too long.

  • What the "Can't wait to wear red"
    May 15, 2013 - 17:54

    What are you talking about can't wait to wear red do you not live on PEI and see what the red are doing here...Come on all GOVERNMENT IS CORRUPT . Time for Canadians to wake up and smell the coffee and get rid of our GOVERNMENT as they are not in it for us but for "THEMSELVES". I have never been so disappointed in being from PEI as I am now what with the crooked government we have here with the PNP and now this MIKE DUFFY representing us in Ottawa and stealing money from Canadians that he can't even afford to pay back..Where does all his money go??.

  • The Senate
    May 15, 2013 - 17:33

    The Senate has always been an elitist club for political hacks, which explains that sucking sound. Harper appointed , from what I read, over 60 puppets to a Senate, which he claims to despise. On PEI, Callbeck was appointed by the Liberals because she was foul enough to cut civil servants' contracts y 7.5%. But Duff, that folksy, faux-intellectual, snake oil guy, takes the prize. Nevertheless, I expect UPEI to bestow on that porcine gamer an honorary Dr.'s degree on this guy.

  • Mell
    May 15, 2013 - 17:32

    Boy this is just getting more and more disgusting- PEI should be ashamed of Duffy, and he should be abolished from the senate-no perks-no golden handshake-just kicked out on his rear which has lots of cushion! Now, there should also be a good paying job opening up in the PM's office- wonder who will reapt the benefits of that one!! I am glad this is coming to light and there needs to be a deep and full investigation, and of the others too. What makes Duffy so darn special to warrant this type of treatment!? The senate should be history as Canadians cannot afford this gravy train anymore, period!

  • Henry
    May 15, 2013 - 16:42

    I thank the national media for persuing this matter.It is obvious that Mr.Duffy got his hands in the cookie jar.This should be turned over to the R.C.M.P. and if charges are warranted then so be it. It is too bad that the same national media were not available to P.E.I as we have a similar situation in regard to the P.N.P. Whereby the Premier made a senior appointee Pay back monies that were obtained in a questionable way. It's not to late to dig into the matters into this program since its inception and let the chips fall where they may.

  • James Macgoo Lakeside
    May 15, 2013 - 16:01

    The representatives of the island are in Ottawa to represent the interests of the island. This representation is expected even if island interests run counter to the Federal Government position. How can Mr. Duffy be our independent island advocate when he is beholding to the PM's right hand person? The optics of this transaction do not pass the "smell test". Senate Ethics concerning gifts may be able to be met on a technicality. Technicalities do not build a persons credibility. Credibility with the people of PEI has been totally destroyed by this transaction. This whole fiasco has become too difficult for many to admit we’ve been duped. Once you give a person power over our representatives independence, we almost never get it back. Time for Mr. Duffy to again do the right thing - "resign.”

    May 15, 2013 - 15:28

    Perhaps and I say perhaps The Duff knows too much about other people and wants this to go away to keep him quiet. And again I say perhaps because how many do you know that give personal gifts of 90,000 dollars to friends who are being investigated for fraud. Normally you would want to distance yourself from someone under investigation.

  • Gasher
    May 15, 2013 - 15:27

    I can not believe what I am hearing and reading about this story. I agree with others, there needs to be a criminal investagation into this. Why is it that when someone with in government gets caught stealing OUR money it's OK. If I got caught stealing from anyone, I would be charged! He needs to be booted out of Senate and be made pay back the money plus a fine!

  • Why
    May 15, 2013 - 14:59

    Why is this man not being charged for fraud or theft over $5000 like any other Canadian that gets caught at stealing from the people . I don't believe Harper is part of this other than him appointing him to senate in first place. Most likely at the request of his chief of staff as they must be real close friends for one to give the other $90,000 as a gift , WISH I HAD A FRIEND LIKE THAT . Hopefully Harper will do the right think here since he can not deny knowing about it now . This man must be removed from senate @ charged . The chief of staff needs to be talked to about this kind of trying a cover up . Harper does not need him when he does these kind of things . Replace him . The whole senate needs to be audited & all fraud doers charged . The people of Canada deserve to know that their government is not stealing . They are the ones that should be setting the example for younger Canadians . Come on Gail , give Stephen a shove in the right direction @ keep at least the federal part of this party honest @ beyond reproach .

  • fred
    May 15, 2013 - 14:58

    If we knew that he was going to visit the island ; in the next couple of years ; We could have a benifit dance for him.Poor fellow ,What an embarrassment to P.E.I. I guess if duffy pays him back ; they both win as mr wright will probably claim it on his taxes as a charitable donation .They might of found the brown bag of money with the $300,000 that mulroney was given for some under the table deal.This bunch is starting to smell really bad.

  • Wendy Ostapovich
    May 15, 2013 - 14:37

    I'm embarrassed to call myself an Islander; gees, Senator Duffy, do the right thing ("Man of your word".........really?!) and resign already. This whole situation stinks from the get go........I'm not really interested in continuing to pay for your Florida holidays while I struggle to save money to put kids through higher education. I said it before and I'll say it again "Harper must take a stronger stance and make a bold move to get rid of the money drain on our society known as the Senate" many more example of gross misuse do we need. Gees, make this go away already......................

    • Ed Gallant
      May 15, 2013 - 16:10

      Don't be embarassed Wendy, you did nothing wrong. What you can be is very mad at the light Duffy sheds on all Islanders and call for his resignation. If Duffy is the honourable man he claims to be, he should not have any hesitation in resigning. That's what honourable people do.

  • Ed Gallant
    May 15, 2013 - 14:35

    This Mike Duffy is a real piker. First he claims $90,000. in expenses that he wasn't entitled to,then he has the temerity to say he and his wife decided that paying it back was the right thing to do and then goes on to say he is honourable. Turns out the PMO paid it back, not Duffy. On become a Senator, he should have been vetted to ensure he was in a stable financial position before anointing him. We know what happens to people who have access to government money and they themselves are in financial difficulties. There are a couple of women on the Island recently who got jail time for doing the exact same thing, taking their employers money when they weren't entitled to it. If Duffy is not an embarassment to the Prime Minister, he certainly is to PEI and he should be fired immediately for his escapades plus the fact that he doesn't live on PEI and therefore cannot represent us in Ottawa.

  • Take Action
    May 15, 2013 - 14:34

    Can the people of Prince Edward Island start a grassroots campaign to impeach Duffy from the Senate? This would big a huge story around the country if Islanders could rally together!

    • intobed
      May 15, 2013 - 16:06

      Search for he following of Facebook, and please join: Islanders & all Canadians against the Appointment of Non-Resident Senators.

    • Islander living on PEI
      May 15, 2013 - 16:16

      Where can I sign ?? I know a lot of people who would be willing to stand in line to get Duffy out of the senate. He was never qualified to act as our representative and Harper should have -and did- know better.

  • how exactly
    May 15, 2013 - 14:28

    How exactly does letting someone else repay money you got caught getting paid that you were not entitles to count as showing leadership?

  • Another twist...
    May 15, 2013 - 14:28

    This story just won't go away. It's weird, in some places, a politician taking a huge financial 'gift' would be considered criminal, and part of the reason they get such significant salaries and pensions to begin with. What's he really buying or selling? I also have no doubt that he is having some personal financial issues - he just lost a 40K a year bonus that he was banking on.

    • Joyce Ramer
      May 15, 2013 - 19:08

      Hey, fellow Islanders, would you rather have Duffy paying back the $90,000 or your Liberal Premier (Ontario) apologizing for wasting $500,000,000.00 plus of tax payers money down the drain for 4 Elective Reps. winning in our last Election???? There is NO OFFER to pay back one cent of this money to us taxpayers! How would you like to trade with us on this one?

  • Yeah Right
    May 15, 2013 - 14:07

    A gift my ass just wait for a few months, i'll bet Sir Nigel gets some kind of raise or an all expense paid trip in tune with the so called gift to a friend. just what kind of friends are they? as for Harper not knowing- he really must think the people of eastern canada are stupid, His stride for power and glory are comming to an end nobody in their right mind would erelect this power hungry idiot to run the country.

  • rob
    May 15, 2013 - 13:52

    this is the most insane thing I have ever heard.

  • Bewildered
    May 15, 2013 - 13:47

    Not long ago Duffy said he talked it over with his wife and agreed that they pay back this money!! So Duffy claimed he payed it back! Then all of a sudden he didn't have the funds to pay back So the Prime Ministers Chief of Staff gives money to Duffy as a GIFT to pay back money he should Never had claimed to start with!!! Yet the Prime Minister of our Country has no problem with all of this!!! Why do I feel like this is just the tip of a very large Iceberg!!!

  • grampie
    May 15, 2013 - 13:37

    Duffy is an embarrassment to the people he is surpose to the Senator for and the fact Harper's chief of staff helped him out makes one wonder on the honesty of the Conservative Party. Time for change!

  • intobed
    May 15, 2013 - 13:08

    So Duffer gets a base salary of $132,000 per year guaranteed until 75 years of age (plus expenses, legal or otherwise) and then a lucrative pension, and he can't borrow $90,000 from the banks? A friend gives him $90,000 as a gift? And here I thought bedtimes stories for children were the ultimate in fantasy.

    May 15, 2013 - 12:54

    Does Mike Duffy have the nerve to retire on PEI ? He has lost all credability with Islanders.

  • O & T
    May 15, 2013 - 12:50

    Mr. Duffy's earlier statement "I'm a Man of my word" ..... NOT TRUE when a friend pays your overdue bills. Mr. Duffy is NOT OPEN & TRANSPARENT with the PEI voters.

  • CFA Taxpayer
    May 15, 2013 - 12:36

    If Harper's chief of staff was involved, its hard to believe that Harper wasn't involved. This whole Mike Duffy affair has yet to pass a single smell-test and this $90,000 "gift" is no exception.

  • Something Stinks
    May 15, 2013 - 12:34

    There definitely seems to be something funny going on here when a friend makes a gift, not a loan, of $90,000 to enable a Senator to repay $90,000 of housing allowance money that he was never entitled to in the first place. To also say that Duffy could not make a timely repayment also seems funny since he could have taken out a mortgage on his Ottawa residence if he did not have liquid funds available. More investigation is needed since who got Duffy the Senate seat for a province that he does not even reside in?

  • Jarrod
    May 15, 2013 - 12:34

    Duffy is a bum. Anyone who's ever been convicted of a criminal offence should be asking why Duffy and Company aren't facing charges.

  • can't wait to wear red
    May 15, 2013 - 12:32

    To be correct - Mr. Nigel Wright seems to have been the beneficial benefactor for Fluffy Duffy! The earlier comments still apply - and indeed this gesture of the PMO nows appears sanctioned and stamped with the grace of the almighty- Harper himself - will he be as generous paying back the taxpayers who I will wager - are most definitely - at the end of the line - still on the hook for this mafnaimous 'gift" - more scrutiny cedrtainly is warranted here as well as in the senate audit matter.

    May 15, 2013 - 12:31


  • Gerard W.
    May 15, 2013 - 12:29

    Guess who will in the end be paying back Andrew MacDougall??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  • cant wait to wear red
    May 15, 2013 - 12:26

    well well well! And who - pray tell us - pays the philanthropic Mr. Andrew McDougall's salary? Perhaps the same old Canadian taxpayers the spin doctors are trying so desperately to circumvent? Be it a gift - or a loan - or a bailout- or even a grant! - it still must come from a salaried governmental individual - and that screams veritable volumes as to origin - from the PMO yet! When is the Senate going to look into impeachment processes akin to the USA? Even if it is the only thing we take away from them - by the sad performance of this majority government over the past couple of years - it will have been a wprthy project indeed to legislatively correctly turf an inept lot such as we now are stuck with until 2015. Please someone let's get this debate rolling - the sooner the better; the atmosphere of duplicity and obfuscation only gets worse from Ottawa as each day passes for the average Canadian.