Former Conservative senator Mike Duffy arrives at court in Ottawa Wednesday, August 12, 2015. Duffy is facing 31 charges, including fraud, breach of trust and bribery.
©THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
It’s been a couple of years since Louisa’s been in town. Louisa, aka Louie, used to be the bar-keep at the Pensioners’ Club before it was closed due to a malady of some sort, possibly political correctness.
The Pensioners’ Club was an old cinder-block railway shed down near the fancy headquarters for the Workers Compensation Board, which was once the HQ of the P.E.I. Railway.
Chief among its denizens was ‘Hat’ MacInnis, and his pals ‘Mousie' MacKay, ‘Swifty' Stewart and ‘Rifle’ Burhoe. This crowd of old gaffers would regularly gather, moments after the sun cleared the yardarm, for a few beers and to discuss the affairs of state. Except on a rare occasion, they haven’t met for years.
This week was one of those times. One of Louie’s many aunts was ill and her survival dubious, so Louie hastened home from Alberta to bid her farewell. Of course, by the time Louie arrived, the old gal was out of hospital and given a new lease on life. Which meant Louie had time on her hands.
It took her awhile to determine which seniors’ home Hat was in and even longer to locate Mousie, now bunked in with one of his sons. When she phoned the cab-stand she found out Swifty had finally lost his license after driving for years half-blind with glaucoma. The cabbies didn’t know where he was.
But Mousie found ‘Rifle’. And Rifle found ‘Swifty’. It was decided they’d sneak a bottle or two into the community room at the Hat’s seniors home and have a chin wag - just like the old days, at the club.
Before they’d even opened their first beer Mousie was asking Hat what he thought was going to happen to Duffy.
“My God,” said Louisa, “it’s been nearly two years since I was home and all you talked about then was Mike Duffy. Doesn't anything ever change around here?”
“Not much,” said Hat. “But, Mousie, I think your guy’s done. I think they’ll convict him on at least one or more of the charges. Maybe not the big one, the bribery thing, but they’ll get him on one or two of the others.”
“He’s not my guy, Hat. I may be a Tory, but Duffy was never my pick for the Senate,” said Mousie. “But, I think you’re wrong. Duffy got himself one smart lawyer and I think that guy has created enough doubt about the charges that Duffy’s going to walk. It’s a criminal trial, appearances don’t count. They had to prove a crime was committed, and I don’t think they did.”
“If Duffy walks there’s going to be a lot of pissed off people in this town, and all over the Island. He didn't make any of us proud. Pounding his chest and claiming what a great supporter of the Island he was, all the time living in Ottawa in the same house he’s lived in for years,” said Swifty.
“Duffy’s smart lawyer may be able to convince the judge there was nothing illegal about getting paid to live in a house you’ve owned for years,” he went on, “but the people riding in my cab knew damn well it was immoral. If he gets off even Duffy must realize it was wrong.”
“I doubt he’d admit that. Do you remember when he took the stand in his own defence,” said Swifty, “what a load of malarkey. Fiction, the Crown called it.”
“Yes,” said Rifle, “you know after that testimony, when he was going home, I don’t know how he could get into his car without slamming the door on his nose.”
They talked about Duffy for quite awhile and Mousie made a half-hearted attempt to defend him, but in the end they all agreed with Hat, if Duffy’s convicted of anything, he’s done like dinner. And, even if he walks, he’ll never be the man he once was.
The judge will decide in April.