More to Duffy case than bribery charge

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Mike Duffy’s cottage at 10 Friendly Lane is shown in Cavendish on Thursday, July 17.

Did Conservative Party of Canada benefit from the proceeds of crime?

Well, he’s always liked being the centre of attention. The Duffster, the Duffinator — Senator Mike Duffy is surely right in the middle of it now, being hit with 31 fraud-related charges as a result of his Senate expenses.

But while Duffy is at the centre, there’s plenty of material on the fringes of the case that deserves much, much more attention.

The media has been focusing on just one aspect of the multitude of charges. Why it is that Duffy’s been charged with accepting a $90,000 cheque from the then-chief of staff to the prime minister, Nigel Wright, but Wright has not been charged for offering the cheque? The general consensus is that it’s a result of the bigger-fish-to-fry approach — if Wright was charged, he could argue he can’t be a witness against Duffy without incriminating himself.

Another argument is that it would be hard to demonstrate that Wright stood to gain directly from handing over the cheque — an easier argument to make in Duffy’s case.

But while that might be the sexiest of the charges, there are others that are potentially more significant.

Take these charges — “the filing of Senate expense claims for travel for personal and partisan reasons, unrelated to Senate business” — as outlined in a statement by RCMP assistant commissioner Gilles Michaud.

“Mr. Duffy has been charged with five counts of fraud under $5,000, four counts of fraud over $5,000 and nine counts of breach of trust. The total amount of the frauds exceeds $50,000,” Michaud said.

Focus for a moment on two words in Michaud’s statement — “partisan reasons.”

Duffy, you see, was a star Tory fundraiser — a big enough star that the media asked, long before police investigations, who was picking up the tab for his travel and expenses. The Canadian Press, in particular, asked Duffy how many party fundraisers he had attended in one year, and questioned whether his full-time home was in Ottawa.

His emailed response? “You are beneath contempt.  I follow all the rules.”

So here’s another interesting question: if it’s proven that Duffy did provide the equivalent of $50,000 in donations to the Tories, do we have to examine whether accepting in-kind donations was legal for the federal Tories? Are they even allowed to accept $50,000 worth of services from an individual? And while they were using him as a fundraiser, did they ever even question just why it was he wasn’t submitting expenses for travel on their behalf? Did the party potentially benefit from the proceeds of crime?

You would have to think that someone in the Conservative Party of Canada would ask the question: “Why are we getting so many services from Mike Duffy for free?” Wilful blindness is not an acceptable excuse.

It’s nice to have a fall guy. But as the charges make their way through the court, it will be interesting to see just where the tendrils reach.

The courts will decide if the Duffster is also a fraudster.

But that doesn’t mean the questions should end there.

An editorial from the St. John’s Telegram/The Canadian Press Member Editorial Exchange

Organizations: Conservative Party of Canada, RCMP, Canadian Press

Geographic location: Ottawa.His

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Recent comments

  • summerside resident
    July 25, 2014 - 22:40

    Duffy is the fall guy, wrong he was and caught.More to this story. Members in the party all the way to Prime Minister Harper are thinking they will be overlooked. Don't think so Harper had to know everything, the buck stops with him, blame whoever but he is the Prime Minister and should be held accountable along with Nigel Wright and more. Dirty, greedy Politicians making all the good ones look bad. It will all be disclosed at trial time.

  • Chester L
    July 25, 2014 - 06:20

    The View From Martinvale, .....Chester L.........Bigger Fish to Fry 1. I like this commentary by the Guardian because it takes the bigger issue of who is authorized behind these individuals and who gains behind those caught in " Excessive Entitlement " and who did they serve in this role, so why not go for those at the top who also are accountable...... 2. This also points out the " Excesses in our Governments both Provincal and Federal, everybody looks for a Government job with higher wages than what is paid is some jurisdictions in Canada but yet all this is financed by we the taxpayer....... 3. Smaller Governments and more support for Business who Supply Goods and Services in Canada and made in Canada and reduce the current level of " waste of taxpayer money in both levels of Government........the only way to clean up this " Fat Cat Business and Continual Troughing "....Well with Canadians wake up and go to the polls and vote this way or if no confidence in any of the current prospects then do not vote..........change is coming and its not far many Canadians disillusioned witht he " Promises not kept by those in Power and their evident Greed by those slowly being outed and uncovered, stay the course RCMP as this is the only honesty we can count on now.:( Also thanks to the Guardian for making the " numerical entry" easy so as to send these on this site.;)