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RICK MACLEAN: Don’t bet against Duffy in courtroom

P.E.I. Sen. Mike Duffy
P.E.I. Sen. Mike Duffy

Mike Duffy is angry. His 50-page statement of claim, the document filed on his behalf by his lawyer in his lawsuit, proves it.  

Ten pages? Sure. Twenty, you’re stretching it. But 50?
Still, if you’re going to demand the Senate and the attorney general of Canada – ultimately the taxpayers always end up footing the bill – pony up millions of dollars for hurting you, you might as well pile on the pages.
There’s $6.5 million for “general damages.” Another $300,000 for lost income and benefits. There’s the unspecified “special damages.” And the $1 million for “punitive damages.”
That’s $7.8 million, minimum, if you’re counting. Plus costs.
But Duffy isn’t just after money. He wants the Senate publicly scolded for suspending him without pay for two years, wrecking his reputation and his life, all while he was merely charged with 31 crimes.
What about being presumed innocent? And what about giving him back the money withheld while he was not allowed to work?
His legal document drips with disdain for those who threw him under the media bus over his spending habits and his claim that his main residence was a summer cottage on P.E.I.
Don’t bet against him in this one.
A criminal court listened to the government make its best case for sending Duffy to jail. The result was not pretty, for the government.
The judge found Duffy not guilty on all 31 counts. I’m paraphrasing here, but what the judge said went something like this: He didn’t break any laws I can find. And he didn’t violate any rules of the Senate when it comes to spending because there don’t appear to really be any rules.
You can see why the Senate might feel a bit vindictive when it’s embarrassed like that by one of its own members. That might help explain why it’s not willing to even talk to him about returning his back pay.
Bad move.
My prediction? Mike Duffy will get his money, our money. And he deserves our money – just not millions of dollars of it.
The Senate was, and is, out of line in the way it has treated him. It left him with no real alternative to a lawsuit.
Clearly, Duffy would like nothing better than to drag every one of them into court and force them to testify, beginning with former prime minister Stephen Harper. Duffy’s fury at his former boss is obvious.
We all should be pulling for that to happen. Then we might find out who knew what, and when.
Harper said he knew nothing about the plan to pay the $90,000 Duffy was supposed to owe. Really? Mr. I-Control-Everything just happened to know zip about this one? Hard to believe.
Sadly, we’re not likely to see Harper hauled into court. It’s important to remember one thing about lawsuits. About 95 per cent of them -19 out of 20 – are settled long before a judge gets to make a decision. It’s cheaper.
So it’s more likely Duffy will get some money, nothing near the millions he wants, and we’ll end up learning nothing. That’s not justice, but it is the law.

- Rick MacLean is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown.

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