Sen. Mike Duffy a wrench in the electoral works for Harper and Conservatives

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Conservative Senator Mike Duffy leaves Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, in a June 6, 2013 photo.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has a new political opponent to contend with heading into the 2015 election, one that has the potential to inflict more significant damage than Tom Mulcair or Justin Trudeau.

Former Conservative Sen. Mike Duffy will have his day in court on 31 charges ranging from bribery to breach of trust in relation to a host of alleged misuses of public funds.

The legal machinations could very well unfold in the run-up to the federal election scheduled for the fall of next year, keeping the details alive in the headlines.

Photo tour of Friendly Lane and Duffy residence

Duffy’s first court date is scheduled for the day after Parliament reopens in September. The speed of the ensuing trial will have political strategists making their calculations.

How much Harper knew about the clandestine $90,000 payment made by his former chief of staff Nigel Wright to Duffy to cover his contested Senate expenses is likely to come up. The lead RCMP investigator has said he “is not aware of any evidence that the prime minister was involved.”

That likely wouldn’t dissuade the defence from making a very public attempt to have Harper testify, nor would the fact that the courts are reluctant to call prime ministers while Parliament is sitting.

Others, including Harper’s former leader in the Senate, Marjory LeBreton, the current Conservative Fund chairman Irving Gerstein, the PM’s former legal counsel and other close aides including Wright could also figure prominently in the legal to-and-fro.

The details of how Duffy was called upon to campaign alongside Conservative candidates during the 2011 election, while allegedly claiming expenses from both the party and the Senate, will also be laid out.

The situation is reminiscent of the one faced by Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, who contended with the fallout from the sponsorship scandal and a federal inquiry during the 2004 and 2006 elections.

Harper now, like Martin then, says he had no knowledge of the scheme at the heart of the scandal. An important factor in Harper’s favour is that the RCMP did not lay charges against Wright.

Still, both Duffy and the opposition will try to keep Harper in the scandal’s orbit.

If Duffy’s dramatic public denunciations of Harper and his closest officials on the floor of the Senate last fall are any indication, the former broadcaster will not hold anything back in defending himself.

“It will all come out in due course when all of the players are under oath and the email chain can be seen in its entirety,” Duffy foreshadowed during his speech on Oct. 22.

Duffy’s lawyer, Donald Bayne, has also exhibited a certain elan in defending his client publicly, suggesting the blame lies with Conservative officials and senators.

Duffy has alleged he was threatened and coerced by the prime minister’s office and Conservative senators into repaying $90,000 worth of contested Senate living expenses, even though he felt he had not broken any rules.

“To date, Sen. Duffy has never had a fair hearing, either in the Senate or in the media,” Bayne said in a statement late Wednesday.

“We are confident that when the full story is told, as it will be, and shown to be supported by many forms of evidence, it will be clear that Sen. Duffy is innocent of any criminal wrong-doing.”

The opposition parties quickly seized the opportunity Thursday to directly link the Duffy charges with Harper himself. Both the NDP and the Liberals said the saga is about Harper’s lack of judgment.

“We’re hopeful these charges will help answer the questions the prime minister has refused to answer: What did he know, and when? Why hasn’t the prime minister taken corrective action for the behaviour of his top advisers and members of this caucus?” said Liberal foreign affairs critic Marc Garneau.

“When will those involved in the PMO coverup be fired and face ethics investigations, rather than to be shuffled to other senior posts in government?”

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement Thursday distancing itself from Duffy, who has been suspended from the Senate, along with two other former Conservatives appointed by Harper.

“We have assisted the RCMP throughout their investigation, and congratulate them on the progress they have made,” said spokesman Jason MacDonald.

“Those who break the rules must suffer the consequences. The conduct described in the numerous charges against Mr. Duffy is disgraceful. As this is now a criminal matter that is before the courts, we have nothing further to add.”

 

 

Organizations: Conservatives, RCMP, Conservative Fund NDP

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Recent comments

  • Chester L
    July 18, 2014 - 09:17

    The View From Martinvale.........Chester L 1. The only fitting comment here that when we say ie " somebody is getting thrown under the bus "..............in this case..........Wrong Doing, waste of tax payers dollars, non accountability, non transparency, non ethics, dishonesty...........So If this list is the bus then it is a very long bus and their is room for all those now being investigated and more to come to be thrown under it.............Let the punishment fit the crime and if you do the crime then pay the fine........This crosses all political parties and the theme of " Blatant Entitlement ".......for those in power to choose to " give us cake"your time is coming ..........and long overdue for those who have " Pigged out at the Public Trough "....by the looks of some they have fed well..........name calling to no avail..........Court Day Awaits........Great Fall TV Viewing...........Bring it on............Justice be done.

  • Ryan
    July 18, 2014 - 09:12

    Duffy's not the first and likely won't be the last. There's also Wallin and Brazeau's case to consider. But don't forget on the Liberals side there's Senators Mac Harb & Raymond Lavigne who's already jailed, the convicted Liberal cabinet minister Joe Fontana, even going back further the Liberal Senator Thompson who was drawing his paychecks while living in Mexico. Not to mention the NDP and the million bucks they owe taxpayers for illegal use of mailouts. All in all plenty for Canadian voters think about in 2015 if they want to vote on the basis of scandals.

  • voter
    July 18, 2014 - 06:59

    don't you know that politicians are entitled to extras ---any party -liberal ,conservative , mongrel conservative , mix and match colours -your choice ---- they are above the law and definitely smarter than the everyday joe or jane or whatever !! They need more money than the commoner !!! just watch their actions and you will see their obvious higher intelligence and disregard for honesty

  • Mike Puffy
    July 17, 2014 - 20:29

    Since old Duffy is charged ,how in hell can he carry the title as Senator,he should be stripped and left at the curb,I hope this is the last we as islanders will ever hear of him....life without parole.

    • Rebecca
      July 18, 2014 - 05:57

      According to the rules, Senators unfortunately cannot be expelled from the Senate until they are convicted of a criminal offense. So until he's actually convicted, he still gets to be a Senator (although he's on suspension for now).

  • enough already
    July 17, 2014 - 20:26

    You clowns . What went on in Quebec under the liberals would make poor old duff look like a kid stealing penny candy. The local liberal stole millions in the last few year. Take a look at you selves.

    • townie22
      July 18, 2014 - 08:27

      yeah, your right, comparing this to something in the past, that has already been dealt with is fair. in light of this, let's drop everything against Duffy and reinstate him, and let him (allegedly) keep filling his pockets. oh, for once i agree with Garth, as long as Harper is leader the CPC will keep sliding in the polls, a new leader would go on about how he had nothing to do with all the scandals, will clean up the Party, etc. the longer Harper stays, the less chance the CPC will get re-elected, he's even got his base in Alberta mad at him now.

  • HOME FROM AWAY
    July 17, 2014 - 17:34

    Harper is in a "no-win" situation. His best bet would be to resign as Prime Minister and let the new Prime Minister take the heat...similar to Dalton McGuinty as Premier of the Province of Ontario in the fall of 2012 resigning when the Gas Plants were closing in. I see Harper resigning this fall...if he doesn't, the Conservative Party is toast and will be in disarray as was the Progressive Conservative party was after the October 1993 Federal election when they only had 2 seats.

    • Garth Staples
      July 17, 2014 - 19:08

      PM Harper has no need to resign much to the regret of the Liberals and NDP.

    • Scott
      July 17, 2014 - 19:24

      Garth, why shouldnt your dear leader resign? He's as guilty as Duffy as.... we all know theres absolutely nothing given the go ahead in the government/cpc that Harper doesnt green light ahead. the man can right the book on micromanageing. He's as guilty as Duffy, a disgrace to the country, and a disgrace to the progressive Conservative party, oh wait, the reform party, no wait, the reform conservative party, no the conservative reform party... What are you garth? a reformer or a progressive Conservative? Or do you need to be told by Harper what to think?

    • Ronald
      July 18, 2014 - 09:56

      Iwouldn't be so quick to claim that McGuinty is off the hook - he's still under investigation with his cohort wynne.

  • townie22
    July 17, 2014 - 17:29

    you've still got a chance to do the right thing here Duff, bring 'em all down with you, their throwing YOU under the bus.

  • will the tuth come out?
    July 17, 2014 - 17:24

    will be interesting to see how people squirm to get out of this one. Hopefully, the truth will come out.

  • scott
    July 17, 2014 - 15:46

    I cant wait to hear Garth Staple's spin on this. Come on Garth, put a spin on it!

    • Garth Staples
      July 17, 2014 - 17:19

      I was wondering where Liberal sycophants were hiding. Imagine a Liberal Senator has to pay back 235,000.00$ and a former Liberal Cabinet Minister found guilty of fraud. Of course he only got house arrest for 4 months. Yes Scott there are skeletons in the Liberal ranks. I even hear freedom of speech is on the wane unless you agree with the 'little leader'. And guess what? You can't even contest a Liberal nomination unless you have prior approval from the little leader. And don't get me talking about the local liberal scene.

  • scott
    July 17, 2014 - 15:44

    I cant wait to hear Garth Staple's spin on this. Come on Garth, put a spin on it!

    • townie22
      July 17, 2014 - 18:42

      well, there's your spin, years old history instead of current events. at least the Liberals learned from it, apparently the CPC didn't, and don't get me started on freedom of speech in the CPC with Harper. speaking of nominations, how's that whole Eve Adams nomination thing going?

    • Garth Staples
      July 18, 2014 - 06:44

      Well townie whoever you are the Adams nomination of which you speak is being kept wide-open for other people to put become involved. Can't you read or do you read and not comprehend. PS This is a free country; you and scott can sign your ID names or are you ashamed of your silly talk.

    • get real
      July 18, 2014 - 13:10

      why does g staples use his real name( if it is) ??????? whether one uses someone's real name is not a guarantee of anything --there could be dozens of people with the same real or fake name !!!