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Politics Ezra Levant to testify at Mike Duffy’s fraud trial

Ezra Levant and Mike Duffy.

PAWEL DWULIT AND ADRIAN WYLD/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Ezra Levant and senator Mike Duffy have appeared on each other's talk shows over the years – now they'll both be featured in one of the year's most-watched courtroom dramas.

Levant, the provocative political commentator formerly of Sun News, has been subpoenaed to testify at Duffy's upcoming fraud and bribery trial.

Levant confirmed to The Canadian Press that he's been summoned as a Crown witness for the case that begins in an Ottawa court April 7.

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Levant, also a lawyer and columnist, said he wrote "a couple" of speeches for Duffy five or six years ago. He declined to comment on the subject matter of the speeches.

"… Out of respect for the court I don't propose to give my testimony in advance," Levant said an e-mail.

Duffy is facing 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery. The Mounties described one series of breach of trust charges as relating to "the awarding of consulting contracts over a four-year period, and subsequently using part of the funds from those contracts for personal gain or for expenses which circumvent Senate oversight."

It is unclear, however, how Levant's work for Duffy fits into the Crown's case. His name has not appeared in any court documents related to the Duffy trial, unlike those of other contractors.

When Levant is scheduled to appear in court is also unknown. The trial is expected to start with a lengthy examination of Senate finance rules and paperwork.

Before Levant began work as a talk-show host on the Sun News network, he appeared a handful of times on Duffy's own political panel on CTV News. Duffy was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in January, 2009, and appeared on a number of occasions in that capacity on Levant's Sun News program The Source.

Police did not charge Nigel Wright, Harper's former chief of staff, who secretly gave $90,000 to Duffy in early 2013 so the senator could repay contested living and travel expenses. Instead, police have alleged Duffy engaged in bribery and fraud in his dealings with Wright.

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Duffy has maintained his innocence throughout, and said he was the victim of a political scheme concocted inside the prime minister's office to force him into repayment of expenses. Duffy felt the expenses were within the rules, and said he had been told as much by Wright and other Senate officials.

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