MIKE DUFFY FROM STARDOM TO THE SENATE SCANDAL
The book, "Duffy" by Dan Leger, was an eye opener of the fall from grace of a man who always wanted to be a senator. He was born in Charlottetown Prince Edward Island in 1946 to Wilfrid Duffy a provincial civil servant and his mother Lillian who would be an important part of his life until her death in 2010 at the age of 92. His father died in 1972 from the second of two heart attacks at the age of 65.
Politics was always a part of the daily conversation over supper. Mike was sure not a great scholar and did not quite graduate from his high school. quitting school at Christmas. When he was 15 Mike got an opportunity to be an announcer for the local television station. At age 25 he realized his dream job at a station, CFCF in Ottawa.
Duffy rented a cheap apartment and set up shop in the city that would later define his future in politics. In 1974 he joined the CBC as a radio announcer that allowed him to gain a larger audience and the ability to hob knob with the political elite. In 1977 he switched to the "CBC The National" that made him famous.
The Duff or what he preferred to be called, "the senator" became a faithful patron of the restaurant, Mama Teresa, where the politicians and journalists gathered for lunch for imported French wines along with good food and decadent deserts all on the public tab. He would routinely go for one for the table and one for the well quaffing back chilled glasses of wine. Living the good life had it’s price expanding his waistline to extra, extra large.
Heart problems were the ultimate cost of his opulent life style and as fate would have it he was hospitalized three days before he got married to his second wife, Heather, while he was still in the hospital. In 2007 he underwent open heart surgery for a blocked artery at the Ottawa Heart Institute.
Wanting to write off his very expensive life-style he devised the "Mike Duffy Media Services" to be able to better afford his $27,000 in expenses that he incurred for business related reasons. Revenue Canada denied the claims.
The Federal Election of 2008 was a pivotal point in Duffy’s career aspirations to be elevated to the Senate’s Red Chamber. Stephen Dion the leader of the Liberal party of Canada live interview with CTV was a politician’s worst nightmare. Being a Francophone Stephan’s English was suspect and he continued to ask that the questions to be repeated. Duffy saw the taped interview and showed the film on his TV program to the delight of the Conservative Party which saw it as a windfall.
On December 22/2008 he realized his dream to become a larger then life Senator from Prince Edward Island. It really did not matter that Duffy had lived the majority of his time in Ottawa with an Ontario driver’s licence, Ontario Hospital Health card to show his designated residency. The requirements for residency are quite simple: one must own land in the province that you are to represent valued at $5,000.
The Islanders all knew that Duffy’s residency claims were as valid as the fictional character "Anne of Green Gables". Unfortunately Duffy did not also meet the requirements of living in his designated province of Prince Edward Island for the minimum 183 days spending the majority of his time in Ottawa.
Harper decided to fill the Senate with his appointments of Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin to keep Duffy company. As I recall Harper was elected on his promise to reform the senate to be elected and accountable but when it came to political expediency to be able to control the Red Chamber the reforms simply evaporated. Duffy served the Conservative Party well raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in fund raising for his speaking engagements across Canada.
In 2012 the Senate Internal Audit Economy Committee probed the expenses of the three senators and found that their expenses for housing/travel were out-of-line. The committee announced that they would carry out the Auditor General’s recommendations to determine whether all of the senator’s declaration of the primary and secondary residences where supported by documentation.
Duffy was ordered to pay back the $90,000 that he had falsely claimed. With his very expensive life style he was not able to comply with his leader, Stephen Harper’s, demand that: he was supposed "to pay it back." Nigel Wright the PMO, a very wealthy former executive of Onyx Corporation, cut Duffy a cheque to settle the debt. The Conservative Party even agreed to pay Duffy’s legal fees of $13,500. Harper did not do right by Nigel Wright and threw him under the bus by dismissing his loyal lieutenant.
The Senate met and the three offending Senators were suspended without pay along with the end of their credit cards and security access cards. All of their staff were subsequently fired.
The RCMP has done their exhaustive investigation work and Duffy now faces 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery with the trial to commence on April 7/2015 in Ottawa.
Mike Duffy’s hopes and dreams of a very comfortable salary and gold plated government pension when he reached the mandatory retirement age of seventy-five have all but disappeared. After forty years as a self-described insider Duffy has come full circle back on the outside looking in but now much worse for wear. When push came to shove he found that he was expendable.
Next week the trial that everyone has been breathlessly waiting for will be front page news in the media. We can assume that Duffy has kept all of his e-mails and will use them to try and exonerate himself and if he can bring retribution to his sponsor-Prime Minister Harper.