Skip to main content

Politics Tories helped Mounties navigate Duffy’s history for RCMP investigation

A source familiar with the case told The Canadian Press that the RCMP approached the Conservative Party during their investigation with questions about Mr. Duffy’s activities on several dates.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

The Conservative Party helped the RCMP piece together Sen. Mike Duffy's whereabouts when he attended events with Tory MPs and candidates across Canada, details that could form part of the Crown's case when the trial opens next month.

But the question of what types of events are considered legitimate Senate business is a central issue sure to be hashed out in the courtroom — one that extends into the wide-ranging audit currently under way in the upper chamber.

Mr. Duffy faces 31 charges, including fraud, breach of trust and bribery of a judicial officer. When police filed the charges in July, 2014, they referred to "inappropriate expenses related to personal and partisan activity."

Story continues below advertisement

The RCMP went on to cite a series of dates where Mr. Duffy allegedly filed travel expense claims "containing false or misleading information," but did not provide more details.

A source familiar with the case told The Canadian Press that the Mounties approached the party during their investigation with questions about Mr. Duffy's activities on several dates.

The party dug into its files and called on riding association officials to cross-reference those dates with any fundraising events Mr. Duffy might have attended, providing spreadsheets to the RCMP. They also handed over details of expenses reimbursed to him, said the source, who was not authorized to disclose details and so spoke on condition of anonymity.

Mr. Duffy, a well-known former broadcaster, was a popular draw for Conservatives wanting to fill rooms with would-be supporters, including during the 2011 election campaign.

Two years ago, a Canadian Press report uncovered evidence suggesting Duffy had filed Senate expenses on some of the same days he was helping Conservative colleagues during the campaign.

A subsequent review by a Senate committee identified 49 days where per diems were allegedly claimed in Ottawa "during a time period ... that Senator Duffy does not appear to have been in Ottawa." After that review of dates in 2011-12, the file was forwarded to the Mounties.

The RCMP expanded the time frame, and included dates from 2009-12.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Duffy has maintained that some of the improper billing was due to administrative error.

More importantly, the Senate rules themselves are subject to different interpretations, and are also likely to be a focus in court. In describing the "principles of parliamentary life," they say, "Partisan activities are an inherent and essential part of the parliamentary functions of a senator."

The Senate travel policy of 2012 stated that "participation in party activities that are related to the work of the senator or the Senate and its proceedings" is "fully funded." Purely partisan matters, such as election activities, are not.

"We are confident that when the full story is told, as it will be, and shown to be supported by many forms of evidence, it will be clear that Sen. Duffy is innocent of any criminal wrongdoing," lawyer Donald Bayne said when the charges were laid.

The larger issue — whether Mr. Duffy's primary residence was in Ottawa or in PEI — formed the heart of the controversy that began to unfold in late 2012. Mr. Duffy claimed expenses for his home in Ottawa as a secondary residence.

He reimbursed the Senate for $90,000 in expenses in the spring of 2013, with the help of a secret cheque from Nigel Wright, former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Story continues below advertisement

The senator has alleged the payment was part of a "monstrous fraud" cooked up by the Prime Minister's Office. Mr. Duffy said he was threatened with the loss of his Senate seat if he did not repay his expenses, which he did not believe he had claimed improperly. He said his living status had been cleared by senior members of the government.

Mr. Wright, who lost his job shortly after word of the cheque became public, always maintained he was acting in the public interest and that his only goal was to "secure the repayment of taxpayer funds." Last April, investigators announced they would not pursue criminal charges against him.

Before Mr. Duffy was turfed from the Conservative caucus in the spring of 2013, the Conservative party had paid $13,000 in Duffy's legal bills.

"Let me be clear: I violated no laws, I followed rules as they then were. And I never received a single note from Senate Finance or the leadership that suggested there was anything amiss," Mr. Duffy said in the fall of 2013.

In the end, Mr. Duffy was charged with bribery in connection with the $90,000 payment.

The trial is set to begin on April 7 and run until June.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons or for abuse. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Cannabis pro newsletter