On Monday, Senator Mike Duffy raised new allegations that the Prime Minister’s former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, wrote a $13,560 cheque to cover the senator’s legal fees. This is his speech. To see the cheque, e-mail correspondence and other correspondence Mr. Duffy tabled Monday, read here.
I come here today, against my doctor’s orders, directly from the Heart Institute. I have to give them a plug. If you have any spare cash, they’re always happy to take donations. Maybe that’s out of order. Anyway, they are wonderful, caring people over there who advised me, if possible, to stay away from these proceedings because the stress from the proceedings is toxic to my heart. But despite their warnings, I have no choice but to appear considering the avalanche of untruths and character assassination with which I’ve been unfairly and viciously attacked by colleagues who should know better.
I listened with a mixture of sadness and incredulity to what has been said over the past few days. I thought Senator Carignan, Leader of the Government, would have been more careful in his accusations, especially considering the recent profile of him in The Globe and Mail and the defamatory things being said about him in his province of Quebec. He deserves the presumption of innocence in his activities on the elected playing field, and so do we three. Sadly, that isn’t the case.
Hansard reports that on or about 16:30 on Oct. 23, Senator Carignan said:
. . . the Rules of the Senate were violated repeatedly, with negligence and recklessness …
What rules? When and how? Does he not know that the PMO, speaking explicitly through Nigel Wright and after checking into my expense claims, wrote to me on Dec. 4, 2012:
Mike, I am told you have complied with all of the applicable rules and there will be several senators with similar arrangements?
Was he referring to Senator Stewart Olsen, who took two years to move from her home in Ottawa to her home in New Brunswick?
This was Dec. 4, colleagues, Dec. 4, 2012, after I had been four full years as a senator, and this is in direct reference to all of the living‑allowance claims that Senator Carignan had the nerve to say I broke the rules about, recklessly.
And Nigel Wright wasn’t alone. On Dec. 3, 2012, the day before Mr. Wright sent me that e-mail, Senator David Tkachuk, the Chair of the Board of Internal Economy, confirmed to the media that my expenses were entirely within the rules. He stated there was no reason for me not to claim the housing allowance in Ottawa.
Senator Carignan’s wild, unsubstantiated charge reminds me of that defamatory accusation made on May 28 at the infamous televised meeting of the Board of Internal Economy. That rare, televised meeting of the board was scheduled after I had the temerity to tell the media on May 23 that they could relax, that I wanted all of the facts to come out in the proper place, in the proper time, with all of the players under oath.
Well, guess what? The PMO didn’t like that. “Duffy wants to go public. We’ll fix him.”
So they scheduled a televised meeting of the Board of Internal Economy, knowing my lawyer was away, and then gave me nine minutes’ notice that they had new evidence against me.
Well, I stayed away from the ambush and watched TV to learn what they were talking about, without ever interviewing me, and contrary to the findings of the independent auditor Deloitte, they concluded that I had engaged in a pattern – a pattern – of filing false expenses, and they called in the RCMP.
When I finally received a DVD containing the so-called evidence, what did I discover? They had sent the Mounties every expense claim I ever filed in the Senate, from Dec. 29, 2008, to Aug. 12, 2013. That totalled 215 claims.
Senate finance decreased 47 claims, saying I had overcharged a meal allowance here, 13 bucks; a mileage adjustment there, a few dollars. But they also increased 28 claims saying I had not charged the Senate enough.
When you do the math, 215 claims over four and a half years, I overcharged the Senate, they said – and we didn’t challenge their math – $437.35, which, on 215 claims, works out to $2.03 a claim.
And Senate finance corrected these small errors, this pattern of filing false claims, $2.03 per claim.
This is the type of minor expense mistake routinely made in all Senate offices, and you know, with the complexity of the Senate expense form, that that is true. That also explains why the Senate administration has since dumped those forms and brought in a new computerized accounting system to make it clearer and more understandable for everyone.