Chrétien says he 'had the good sense' not to appoint Duffy to Senate

Teresa Wright
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Former prime minister Jean Chrétien says he is glad he was not the prime minister who appointed Mike Duffy to the Senate.

Chrétien was in Prince Edward Island Wednesday for a fundraising dinner.

In an interview with The Guardian, he said Duffy was always bugging him to be named to the Red Chamber.

“When he was in the lobby of the House of Commons, he would say, ‘Hi prime minister. I’m ready, I’m ready.’ He must have said that a hundred times,” Chrétien said.

“I had the good judgment not to name him, I guess.”

Since Duffy was constantly floating his own name as a possible candidate, Chrétien admits the idea did cross his mind.

He says the fact Duffy was not a resident of Prince Edward Island at the time would have given him pause, if he had ever seriously considered it.

“I would have thought twice before doing that, especially in a small province. You can do it in Ontario or Quebec where they have 24 (Senate seats), but when you have only four? People were not happy when the appointment was made here, I’m told. And understandably.”

The former Liberal prime minister was loathe to comment on the expenses scandal that has placed the Senate and the current prime minister’s office under intense public scrutiny.

He did say it is a ‘big problem’ for Stephen Harper.

“The problem is not only with the (three) senators, but what the prime minister’s office did is the biggest problem,” Chrétien said.

“Who knew and who did not know? Who is lying, who is not lying... There are always mistakes made in any institution, but this one is attracting a lot of attention. Everybody talks about it, every media, and it’s a big, big problem for the prime minister.”

Chrétien may not have appointed Duffy, Pamela Wallin or Patrick Brazeau, but he did appoint Mac Harb, a former Liberal senator who is also facing an RCMP investigation for inappropriate expense claims.

Harb was ordered to pay back more than $230,000, and resigned in August after paying the money back.

Chretien says the difference between Harb and the other three is – Harb stepped down.

“What he did, I don’t know. If he did something inappropriate he may have to pay back or face the courts, I don’t know. Anyway he’s gone so he’s not on the payroll of government anymore.”

The fallout of the Senate scandal has led to many to call for an outright abolishment of the Senate. NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair has been championing this idea since the summer.

Chrétien does not believe the Senate will ever be totally abolished, as such a feat would require unanimous consent of the provinces. But he did call this “a very sad period for the Senate at this time.”

As for any advice for Harper on dealing with this scandal, Chrétien says he will not share this publicly.

“If he called me, I would tell him. But he’s not going to call me.”

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

Organizations: Red Chamber, House of Commons, RCMP

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Quebec

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Recent comments

  • kit
    December 17, 2013 - 13:22

    People who live in glass houses Mr. Chretien , Or do you think canadians have forgot about the money your party stole from Canadians . You should feel shame .

  • kat
    November 03, 2013 - 01:54

    The senate has been run this way for over one hundred years. Time to clean it up - period. And for all those of you who think chretien has a halo around his head I have some land just off the florida coastline for you!

  • Gordon
    October 31, 2013 - 21:53

    Just a suggestion for Chretien---I was always told by veterans to wear your poppy over your heart

  • Gisele
    October 31, 2013 - 20:01

    No, the difference is that Harb wasn't defended by the PMO and didn't have his bills paid for him and his cheating did not benefit the Liberal Party whereas Duffy's cheating did benefit the Conservative Party.

  • brianmacdonald
    October 31, 2013 - 18:04

    funny guy he is,was it not mr macauley that lost his porfolio of solisiter general for handing out untendered work to mr banks at greenwich national park.

  • herringchoker
    October 31, 2013 - 14:47

    No doubt he's glad he didn't appoint Duffy. After appointing Harb and the jailbird Raymond Lavigne , it would probably have been too much to bear to have a Senate appointee kicked out before his pension vested.

  • Dundas Sue
    October 31, 2013 - 14:15

    I would say that the one who pokes his head up over and over again saying, "pick me" should be the last one chosen. Sheer arrogance. What a sense of entitlement. He has left his PEI roots in more ways than one!

    • Wyarton Willie
      October 31, 2013 - 15:00

      Him poking his head up over and over almost cost me my career. Six more weeks of parliament!

  • Pro Tocol
    October 31, 2013 - 13:45

    The Poppy is always worn on the left breast, close to the heart. Which leads one to a question long pondered: On which side is Chrétien's heart?

    • Stranger even
      October 31, 2013 - 14:10

      Stranger even is no one pointed it out to him, aside from the fact he should have known.

  • Dundas Sue
    October 31, 2013 - 13:37

    I would say that the one who pokes his head up over and over again saying, "pick me" should be the last one chosen. Sheer arrogance. What a sense of entitlement. He has left his PEI roots in more ways than one!

  • don morris
    October 31, 2013 - 13:30

    Mr.Chretien knows very well that Mac Harb only resigned his seat to save his Senatorial pension. Mr.Chretien also knows very well that Mr.Harb is still being paid,via his pension, by the Canadian taxpayers. This piety on Mr.Chretien's part is amusing in consideration of the multitude of scandals over which he reigned.

  • Garth Staples
    October 31, 2013 - 13:20

    If he had such good sense why is he wearing his poppy on the right side of his suit?

  • PSM
    October 31, 2013 - 12:35

    Yes, but he had the good sense to appoint Mac Harb.

  • Blake
    October 31, 2013 - 12:16

    I think history will show that Chretien was one of the best Prime Ministers Canada has ever had. Too bad there was so much infighting. The Liberals would probably still hold a majority.

  • don
    October 31, 2013 - 12:11

    well Chrétien how many pc members did you appoint to the senate? none. and tell how many of your people do the same thing but was not caught? and as duffy said the truth he and the other 2 senators are fall guys to protect some bigger fish. and down the road the truth will come out? i want to see the papers on the mla's in the house. and to me i do not paying for the wives of the mla's. and the excuse that is used is it is hard on the families of mla's being away for weeks BULL CRAP. what about the guy/girls serving our country they have families also.

  • WHAT DOES THE DUFF SAY?
    October 31, 2013 - 11:46

    For a real hoot, and as reported by The Toronto Star (oddly not any of our local media) listen to PEI's Matt MacLeod's ditty: WHAT DOES THE DUFF SAY?

  • Hac Marb
    October 31, 2013 - 11:37

    It's nothing short of hilarious to think that Mr. Chretien would be playing partisan, trying to knock Harper down, meanwhile a quick look into history would show he appointed Mac Harb!!! The only senator so far who has been accused by the RCMP of committing fraud!

    • Bored On The Corner
      October 31, 2013 - 14:00

      I'm pretty sure Brazeau, Wallin and Duffy have also been accused of fraud, but thanks for coming out.

    • bystander
      October 31, 2013 - 15:07

      I think Hac was saying the 3 others have been accused by the media and general population of fraud but not by the RCMP. Investigations are on-going. Although RCMP has taken exception to Duffy's consulting fees which COULD result in fraud.

  • Nick
    October 31, 2013 - 10:39

    Why is Jean Chrétien's poppy on the opposite side its supposed to be??

  • AMAZED
    October 31, 2013 - 10:19

    One would think Binns would be too ashamed to show his face on PEI after the mess he left and the legacy of arrogance .Who organizes these follies and dredges up this Tory clown show.

  • Karen Pottruff
    October 31, 2013 - 09:33

    Good to hear Mr. Chretienès views on the subject. He has been in office & knows what it is like.

  • Serious Reader
    October 31, 2013 - 09:28

    Well it's too bad he didn't "have the good sense" to put his poppy on his left lapel.

  • Concerned Islander
    October 31, 2013 - 09:09

    These photo oops are really phony. We are supposed to forget about the Liberal PNP scanadal and Polar Quick fiasco where total mismanagement and loss of millions of dollars. Bottom line is thre three Senators if they acted inappropiately should pay all expenses back and resign. Than Haarper should resign or be put out by a whole Conservative Party vote. Why to these people think they can do this, get caught, back it back and remain active members of government. All of these underhanded dirty Polictics is what scares honest people from the polls. PEI Governments both Liberals & Consevatives are really under the microscope and have lost all creadibility in the public eye. Very sad.

  • ha ha
    October 31, 2013 - 09:02

    Difference re Harb because Harb stepped down. Guess it is all in how one words it, eh Jean.

  • W.Wilkins
    October 31, 2013 - 09:00

    So, what was this gala all about? Evidence of the collateral damage of the senate scandal is the focus of this article. Don't get me wrong, as a political junkie and I'm as riveted on the most recent "shiny thing" as the next political junkie. However, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Trust is a very worthwhile project. In this case, the Guardian fails to inform Islanders about the Trust and how it could impact our province. Having worked with Island youth for more than 30 years, I know there are plenty of our young people who would be excellent candidates for this program. To this end, I hope The Guardian will re-visit this story and inform us how to take advantage of and support this important initiative.

  • Bobby
    October 31, 2013 - 08:57

    I was thinking the same thing. Too bad he didn't use the same "sense" in the sponsorship fiasco. I love how Chretien always pretends to be the good boy who never does anything wrong. I love it how he always pats himself on the back for running a surplus and constantly criticizing the US government for his own political gains up here.

  • Townie
    October 31, 2013 - 07:39

    Well good for you. Isn't hindsight an amazing tool to have. Too bad you didn't have the good sense to not get involved in the sponsorship scandal.

    • Jeff
      October 31, 2013 - 09:05

      It is really easy to just throw around accusations. Chretien, it has been shown, was not involved in the sponsorship scandal. Even Gomery said so. Gomery said Chretien didn't know, but should have known. A court struck down that second finding, saying it was unreasonable to expect that the prime minister would know such a thing.

    • Jeff
      October 31, 2013 - 09:06

      It is really easy to just throw around accusations. Chretien, it has been shown, was not involved in the sponsorship scandal. Even Gomery said so. Gomery said Chretien didn't know, but should have known. A court struck down that second finding, saying it was unreasonable to expect that the prime minister would know such a thing.

    • Out of Townie
      October 31, 2013 - 10:17

      I think the point is that it was foresight, not hindsight that Chretien did not appoint Duffy. I have personally wondered that PEI did not challenge the appointment of a Senator from Ontario to represent their Province in the Senate. It is not as if they had a whole lot of influence as it is, and the Duffy appointment robbed them of a big chunk of what influence they had

  • Ron
    October 31, 2013 - 07:15

    Strange that Jean should be saying that Senate abolition "would require unanimous consent of the provinces". Constitutional experts are saying it would require approval of seven provinces that have 50% plus one of Canada's population.

    • Matt
      October 31, 2013 - 09:19

      That's to amend the appointment and term rules. Abolition requires unanimous consent.

  • Bob Macdonald
    October 31, 2013 - 06:50

    Chrétien does not believe the Senate will ever be totally abolished, as such a feat would require unanimous consent of the provinces. But he did call this “a very sad period for the Senate at this time.” ------- It's actually a sadder time for the people of Canada that the Senate won't be abolished. I'm always surprised that they say it won't be abolished because it needs the unanimous consent of all the provinces because I'm not sure which province would object. Most people realize it needs to go.

    • Jerry Booth
      October 31, 2013 - 08:54

      It's Quebec Liberals, like Justin Trudeau, that want to keep the Senate because Quebec will always be over-represented in the Senate.

    • Marke Normandale
      October 31, 2013 - 13:12

      The Senate was initially created as the last voice of reason should a prime minister attempt to go beyond his position to enact a law or any action that goes too far against the democracy known as Canada. What needs to change is rather than byappointment, they should be voted in, by us.

  • Systemic Stagnation
    October 31, 2013 - 06:08

    Had Chrétien been a tad more circumspect, he might have said that the senate situation is, a ‘big problem’ not only for Stephen Harper, but for all Canadians.

  • the man with the yellow hat
    October 31, 2013 - 05:58

    humpty duffy sat on a wall, humpty duffy had a great fall, all the kings horses and all the kings men, couldnt put duffy back together again

    • on the ball on PEI
      October 31, 2013 - 12:38

      You know what, Duffy may be the least of PMO's worries. It is Nigel Wright I would worry about if I was the PMO.

  • Ace Freely
    October 31, 2013 - 00:02

    These Senators deserve to be raked over the coals no doubt about it.but Mr. Chretien wasn't there something about golf balls and sponsorship that you managed to dodge with out a concise explanation? This guy spent a long time in office and accomplished very little apart from the infamous long gun registry, all during a period which Canada should have asserted it's self on the international stage through policy and resource development. Please do us all a solid and disappear for 10 to 100 yesrs.

    • terry
      October 31, 2013 - 09:31

      did he not balance the books i thought when king harper took over we had a surplus of close to 20 billions dollars where is it now

    • terry
      October 31, 2013 - 09:32

      did he not balance the books i thought when king harper took over we had a surplus of close to 20 billions dollars where is it now

    • Star Child
      October 31, 2013 - 12:53

      Ha! Yeah sure, resource development. Whatever you say buddy.LOL