Skip to main content
A scary good deal on trusted journalism
Get full digital access to globeandmail.com
$0.99
per week for 24 weeks SAVE OVER $140
OFFER ENDS OCTOBER 31
A scary good deal on trusted journalism
$0.99
per week
for 24 weeks
SAVE OVER $140
OFFER ENDS OCTOBER 31
// //

At first glance, allegations made by the RCMP that Senator Mike Duffy paid $64,916 to Gerry Donohue, his old friend from the 1980s, to do almost nothing, do not appear to reflect well on Mr. Duffy.

According to court documents filed by the RCMP this week, Mr. Donohue has "acknowledged that he produced no tangible work product for Duffy." The retired television technician had no prior government consultancy experience before Mr. Duffy engaged his services, but says that over four years he did online research for the senator and provided him with verbal advice on subjects "such as obesity, or being a Conservative." Sometimes Mr. Donohue, who in one case billed $200 an hour, told the RCMP he'd watch the news and then chat about it with his old friend.

However, in the generousness of spirit that should accompany Thanksgiving, I caution Canadians not to jump to harsh conclusions about the business transaction in question – the money for which came from Mr. Duffy's Senate office budget.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Donohue maintains the money never reached him personally anyway. He was on disability, so taking it would have been illegal. The payments were made to a corporation for which his wife and son were directors, and since no one has suggested Mr. Donohue was being paid to provide financial advice, and thus had any expertise in that field, it's unfair to assume the man knew a way to get around that one.

Let's be charitable here and consider any and all plausible reasons why this payout could have been a worthwhile expenditure of tax dollars.

Has the RCMP considered the possibility that Mr. Donohue is just an exemplary Googler? Not just a gifted Googler, but world-class? Mr. Donohue might just be the Robert Johnson of the search engine. Perhaps Mr. Duffy, possessing a keen eye for this kind of ability, spotted Mr. Donohue back in the eighties flipping through a card catalogue as if the devil himself had taught him the Dewey decimal system. This would explain why, when the time came, Mr. Duffy knew who best to charge with the task of typing "How to be a Conservative?" into a search bar and then clicking "I'm feeling lucky," which I'm sure Mr. Donohue did like a god.

Arguably, the amount paid for the service of providing advice on "being a Conservative" suggests neither nepotism nor outright corruption but only that the role of Conservative senator didn't come all that naturally to poor Mr. Duffy. Perhaps he required not just guidance on the basic tenets of the political philosophy of Conservatism, but constant course correction as well because – unbeknownst to the average Canadian – Mr. Duffy is instinctively a communist. Has the somewhat accusatory RCMP even considered that possibility?

Practically every week, the figure of $64,916 suggests, Mr. Donohue was likely approached by Mr. Duffy with some new proto-Marxist scheme. It would have been incumbent upon Mr. Donohue to say, for example, "No, Mike, I keep telling you, more regulation isn't the answer. A free market will encourage innovation."

Arguably, instead of speculating wildly and unkindly about whatever arrangement these two men had, we should be grateful to Mr. Donohue for his service. Let's censure less and instead count our blessings. Maybe we should be thankful on this weekend that Mr. Duffy recognized his own innate yearnings for a classless and stateless society and understood that these inclinations were going to prevent him from fulfilling the role of Conservative senator to which Prime Minister Stephen Harper personally appointed him.

Good for Mr. Duffy for getting the right man on the job! I wouldn't want to be the one tasked with driving over to Mr. Duffy's place every time his wife called in a panic because the senator was once again hell-bent on seizing the means of production and returning them to the hands of the proletariat.

Story continues below advertisement

"Put those means of production down, Mike, we've talked about this," I imagine Mr. Donohue used to say, as I don't now live in a country known as Big Cuba.

Far from raising new questions, this revelation merely answers some lingering ones. If Mr. Duffy was willing to pay a friend almost $65,000 for shooting the breeze with him about the TV news, that explains why the senator appears to have been nonchalant about the Prime Minister's chief of staff offering to personally pay off his $90,000 debt. Maybe in time it will be revealed that Mr. Duffy debriefed Nigel Wright on an entire season of Mad Men. Case closed.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
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.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies