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Sen. Mike Duffy resigns from Conservative caucus over expenses scandal


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Prime Minister Stephen Harper is standing by his chief of staff despite a growing scandal involving Sen. Mike Duffy, but the senator found himself on the outs with his party and was booted from the Conservative caucus Thursday night. Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed Duffy would have to sit as an Independent, although it was not immediately clear how long Duffy would have to sit out of the Tory fold. The decision to remove Duffy, one of the party’s top fundraisers and most recognizable faces, came after days of questions about his Senate expenses and series of confusing twists in a spending scandal that became tied to Harper’s right hand man, Nigel Wright. This week it was revealed that Wright wrote Duffy a personal cheque to cover a $90,000 repayment for potentially improper Senate expenses. The decision also comes after Duffy’s expenses came under further scrutiny Thursday with reports that he had billed the Senate for travel expenses while campaigning for the Tories in the 2011 election.

A spokesman for Harper said Thursday that Nigel Wright “will not resign.” “He has the confidence of the prime minister,” said Carl Vallee. Conservative members of the upper chamber quietly expressed shock over the developments on Thursday, with others saying they were angry at what appeared to be a financial bailout for Duffy. Wright dipped into his personal funds to help Duffy repay the cash the senator had claimed against his home in an Ottawa suburb because, Harper’s office said Wednesday, “Duffy was unable to make a timely repayment.” Wright wrote the personal cheque, Harper’s office has said, so Duffy could repay the approximately $90,000 in living expenses he had claimed over more than three years in the Senate. A senior government official told Postmedia News on Thursday that Wright wrote a cheque to Duffy’s lawyer “in trust.” The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the sole stipulation for giving the money was “that it would be used to pay back taxpayers” and putting it in trust “was the best way to achieve this.”

However, Duffy also took out a loan from Royal Bank to cover the cost of repaying his Senate expenses, according to a Senate source with knowledge of the financial arrangement. On Wednesday, Duffy told CTV in an email that he dealt with the bank alone and Wright was not involved in that transaction. Duffy did not return requests for comment. A source close to Harper suggested the claim that Duffy had secured a bank loan came as a complete surprise. Opposition parties continued to call for an independent investigation over the payment and allegations raised in a CTV report earlier this week that Wright worked out the backroom deal with Duffy to have the expenses refunded to the Senate, while also going easy on him in the final reports from the Senate committee overseeing expense audits of Duffy, Sen. Patrick Brazeau and Sen. Mac Harb. CTV also reported that Duffy had been told by the Prime Minister’s Office to say as little as possible about the housing claims. The auditors, in their reports released last week, noted that they interviewed Harb and Brazeau, as well as reviewed documents about their housing and travel expenses. On March 25, Duffy repaid the Senate $90,172.24. The next day, his lawyer told auditors in a letter that Duffy’s participation in the audit “was no longer needed” and further documentation was not provided. Auditors wrote they were unable to meet with Duffy or receive documentation that would help in their analysis. On April 20, Duffy did offer to meet with auditors, but the committee decided against it because “it would delay the process, and … there should be no further delays in the process,” the audit said. Duffy had claimed about $90,000 in housing and living expenses in the capital region against his home in Kanata, a suburb of Ottawa, saying that his primary home was in Cavendish, P.E.I. Senate rules allow senators to claim as much as $22,000 a year for a secondary residence in the capital, so long as the one they keep in their home province is more than 100 kilometres from Parliament Hill. On Feb. 22, Duffy publicly announced that he planned to reimburse the Senate for cash he claimed on his home in Ottawa. At the time, he said he made the decision with his wife on Feb. 21, although he said he didn’t believe he had done anything wrong.

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Mike Duffy claimed Senate expenses while campaigning for Conservatives in 2011 election

OTTAWA — Conservative Sen. Mike Duffy submitted expense claims while Parliament was dissolved during the last federal election, reporting he was on Senate business on days he appeared to be campaigning for the party.

The full extent of Duffy’s Senate expenses during the writ period remains a mystery — the Conservative government is refusing to reveal the full breakdown of the senator’s claims and his repayment of $90,172.24.

But independent auditors at the firm Deloitte listed Duffy as being in Ottawa on Senate business and claiming a daily expense for seven days in April 2011, a month that was dominated by campaigning for the May 2 vote.

He was also listed as being on Senate business at an “other location” on another six days. Using cellphone records, Deloitte managed to catch one inappropriate “other location” claim from 2012 while Duffy was in Florida.

But the auditors said they remained in the dark about whether taxpayers paid his expenses on many other days, since Duffy failed to fully disclose his activities and records.

Social media and newspaper reports offer a glimpse of how Duffy’s busy campaign schedule overlapped with the Senate business he reported to auditors:

– On April 5, Duffy spoke to the Kootenay-Columbia Conservative association in British Columbia. His travel claims indicated he was on Senate business.

– On April 8, candidate Sandy Lee tweeted that she was meeting Duffy in Norman Wells, N.W.T. Lee’s campaign paid Duffy $209.01 in expenses. His travel claims indicated he was on Senate business.

– On April 21, Duffy was reportedly campaigning with candidate Scott Armstrong in Nova Scotia. Armstrong’s campaign paid Duffy $409.91 in expenses.

– On April 28, Duffy appeared to have a busy day in the Toronto area, campaigning with candidates Maureen Harquail, Wladyslaw Lizon and Gin Siow. Lizon’s campaign paid Duffy $169.45, as did Siow. His travel claims indicated he was on Senate business.

– On April 29, former cabinet minister Lawrence Cannon tweeted a picture of Duffy at an event outside of Ottawa that same day. The Deloitte audit listed Duffy as being in Ottawa on Senate business and claiming a per diem.

If Duffy collected daily Senate expenses while on the Conservative campaign trail, taxpayer may have paid twice: Conservative candidates who paid for Duffy’s hotel stays would have received federal rebate money for those expenses.

Duffy’s campaign events did not end there. On at least five other occasions documented in media reports, Duffy campaigned with Conservative candidates. He did not tell Deloitte about his campaign calendar, forcing Deloitte to list his activities as “undocumented.”

Meanwhile, the public Senate attendance register does not cover April or May 2011, the period that Parliament was dissolved.

“We are not on a leave of absence — Parliament was dissolved — we are still senators. However, all party work we are doing is paid for by the party,” Duffy told Postmedia News during the campaign.

“MPs continue to be paid. So do we.”

Duffy did not respond to a phone call or an email message requesting comment.

On Wednesday, the prime minister’s office revealed that Stephen Harper’s chief of staff Nigel Wright had given Duffy the $90,000 he needed for housing expense repayment as a gift.

But Duffy appeared to contradict that, according to a CTV News report Wednesday night. The network said it received an email from Duffy in which he claimed he repaid his expense claims with a loan from the Royal Bank and that “Nigel played no role.”

Once the repayment was made, Deloitte said Duffy ended his participation in the audit, stopping short of providing financial records, credit card statements and information about his calendar. He also did not meet with the auditors.

“Based on the information provided in the travel claims, it is not clear from the claims where Sen. Duffy was located on days he claimed per diem amounts,” Deloitte wrote.

Sen. Mac Harb, formerly a Liberal who is now independent and contesting a Senate demand he repay $51,482 in housing-related expenses, is also listed as having been in Ottawa on Senate business on four days during the federal election period, but reported no Senate business outside of Ottawa.

Sen. Patrick Brazeau, also now independent after being kicked out of the Conservative caucus, only listed one day of Senate business in Ottawa during the writ period. He is also fighting a demand for repayment of $48,744 in housing expenses.

Deloitte also highlighted six expense claims when Harb said he was in Ottawa on “Senate business” without being able to prove what he was doing, and two for Brazeau. In both cases, Harb and Brazeau provided Deloitte with more documents than Duffy, and met with the auditors in person.


Isn't this the kind of crap Conservative party railed against, leading to their first minority? How fast the things politicians complain about turn to business as usual. And it's been business worse than usual under this Conservative government. Accountability isn't even in their lexicon, much less part of their actual platform.

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The Conservatives may be performing well economically (well, even this is up for debate) but they have been treating our democracy like complete ****.

There's even reports that Duffy blamed it on "confusing paperwork." This guy is suppose to be reviewing long and comprehensive bills in the senate and he's apparently had a hard time writing down his expenses? What a load of crap.

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Damning findings removed from Sen. Mike Duffy’s audit report: documents

CTVNews.ca Staff

Published Friday, May 17, 2013 10:52AM EDT

Last Updated Friday, May 17, 2013 10:01PM EDT

The Senate’s internal economy committee sanitized the original audit of Sen. Mike Duffy’s expenses to remove damning findings, documents obtained by CTV News show.

A confidential report obtained by CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife shows the original version of Duffy’s audit found that the senator broke the Senate’s “very clear” and “unambiguous” residency rules.

The report found that Duffy stayed in his Prince Edward Island cottage mostly during the summer months. He had listed it as his primary residence, which allowed him to claim an annual housing allowance given to senators who live more than 100 kilometres from Ottawa.

Duffy’s air travel pattern also showed he lived in Ottawa and he had registered his address in the capital “for several official purposes,” according to the original report.

The report also reveals that Duffy’s lawyers sought to have him exempted from the forensic audit.

All of that was missing from the rewritten audit report that was tabled in the Senate and made public.

Sources say the whitewash was part of a backroom deal with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, Nigel Wright.

Fife revealed earlier this week that Wright helped Duffy pay back a $90,172 debt to the Senate for improperly claimed living expenses.

The PMO then confirmed that Wright, a former Bay Street executive, wrote a personal cheque to Duffy as a gift to an old friend, although sources say the two men are not close.

The night before, the senator claimed in an email to CTV News that Wright played no role and that he’d taken out a loan to repay the money.

Duffy quit the Conservative caucus Thursday as questions swirled over whether the $90,000 cheque from Wright violated ethics rules that prohibit senators from accepting gifts. Under the Senate Conflict of Interest Code, all gifts over $500 must be reported within 30 days.

“We need to know what were the terms and conditions. What’s the quid pro quo here for $90,000?” Liberal MP Ralph Goodale said. “What was Senator Duffy expected to do?”

Meanwhile, the Senate’s internal economy committee wants to have another look at Duffy’s expense claims amid growing questions about his conduct, including new revelations that he filed claims for Senate business while campaigning for the Conservatives in the last federal election.

Documents revealed that Duffy billed taxpayers for being on official Senate business while he was campaigning for the Conservatives during the 2011 federal election. If it is confirmed that Duffy attended eight campaign events and submitted Senate expenses, he could be in trouble for double-billing.

The Conservative Party told CTV News on Thursday that it paid for all of Duffy’s campaign expenses. But social media and newspaper reports show that Duffy’s reported Senate business overlapped with campaign events he attended.

A Senate source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Canadian Press Friday that given the new accusations, senators want Duffy’s expense reports to be sent back to the committee for further review.

Also on Friday, the NDP asked Elections Commissioner Yves Cote to look into the issue of possible double-billing by Duffy.

In a letter to the elections commissioner, NDP MP Craig Scott said his party is also “concerned by evidence that these types of ‘expense sharing’ arrangements may not have been limited to Senator Duffy,” as other senators also campaigned during the 2011 federal election, including Pamela Wallin, Dennis Patterson, Nancy Greene-Raine, David Smith and Grant Mitchell.

Duffy is one of three senators whose expense claims came under scrutiny over allegations they were improperly claiming tens of thousands of dollars in living expenses.

Independent audits released last week found that Duffy, Sen. Patrick Brazeau and Sen. Mac Harb spend more time in Ottawa than the homes they claimed were their primary residences, rendering their claims ineligible.

The Senate’s internal economy committee ordered Brazeau to repay about $48,000 and Harb $51,000. Duffy repaid the expenses in March, before the audits were released.

Although Duffy said Thursday that it was his decision to step aside and sit in the Senate as an independent, a senior official told Fife that the senator was pushed out of caucus because of the growing questions surrounding his conduct.

Andrew MacDougall, spokesperson for the prime minister, says Harper has full confidence in Nigel Wright, and he will remain on the job.

On Wednesday, Canada’s ethics commissioner, Mary Dawson, said she will investigate Wright’s cheque to Duffy.

MacDougall said the Prime Minister’s Office is fully co-operating with her probe.

With files from The Canadian Press

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/damning-findings-removed-from-sen-mike-duffy-s-audit-report-documents-1.1286005#ixzz2Tf3bGvpW

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Pamela Wallin forced out of Tory caucus over preliminary audit results

CTVNews.ca Staff

Published Friday, May 17, 2013 5:54PM EDT

Last Updated Friday, May 17, 2013 10:10PM EDT

Prime Minister Stephen Harper forced Sen. Pamela Wallin out of the Conservative caucus after learning the preliminary findings of an audit looking into her travel expenses, a source has told CTV News.

Wallin issued a statement Friday evening saying she has recused herself from the caucus as she awaits the results of the external audit.

But a source told CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife that the audit has already raised serious questions about Wallin’s spending, which involves hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Insiders told Fife that Wallin repaid $25,000 before the forensic audit began. She has since returned about $15,000 more to taxpayers, but sources say she will likely have to give more money back.

As the controversy over senate expenses grows, Fife reported there’s word Prime Minister Stephen Harper may prorogue Parliament in early June.

Wallin said Friday she has been cooperating “fully and willingly” with the auditors since December.

“I had anticipated that the audit process would be complete by now, but given that it continues, I have decided to recuse myself from the Conservative Caucus and I will have no further comment until the audit process is complete,” she said in her statement.

When CTV News first disclosed Wallin’s suspicious travel spending in February, Harper defended the senator in the House of Commons.

“I have looked at the numbers. Her travel costs are comparable to any parliamentarian travelling from that particular area of the country,” he said, referring to Wallin’s home province of Saskatchewan.

Alarmed by what they’ve discovered so far, the auditors are now scrutinizing all of Wallin’s travel expenses since 2009 – the year she was appointed to the Senate.

Auditors had at first only been probing about a year’s worth of travel expenses.

Once the audit is complete, it will be sent directly to the RCMP, a well-informed insider told Fife.

Sen. Marjory LeBreton, government leader in the Senate, issued a terse, one-line statement Friday to acknowledge Wallin’s decision to leave the Tory caucus.

"Senator Wallin has informed me that she has resigned from Caucus to sit as an independent,” LeBreton said.

Wallin’s news comes a day after Sen. Mike Duffy also stepped down from the Conservative caucus over an ongoing expense claim scandal.

Some $321,000 in travel expenses claimed by Wallin are currently the subject of an external audit by the same firm that probed housing expense claims by Duffy, Sen. Mac Harb and Sen. Patrick Brazeau.

When the audit results were released on May 9, LeBreton said that auditing firm Deloitte had requested more time to review Wallin’s travel expenses. The internal economy committee granted that request, she said.

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/pamela-wallin-forced-out-of-tory-caucus-over-preliminary-audit-results-1.1286767#ixzz2TfmbEJDD

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Harper chief of staff resigns amid Senate expense scandal

Nigel Wright aknowledges move is related to 'matters involving Senator Duffy'

CBC News Posted: May 19, 2013 9:03 AM ET Last Updated: May 19, 2013 1:05 PM ET Read 1196 comments1196

Nigel Wright has resigned as Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff, following revelations he wrote a $90,000 cheque to repay improperly claimed housing expenses for Senator Mike Duffy.

In a statement issued Sunday, Wright said Harper has accepted his resignation "in light of the controversy surrounding my handling of matters involving Senator Duffy."

"My actions were intended solely to secure the repayment of funds, which I considered to be in the public interest, and I accept sole responsibility.

"I did not advise the prime minister of the means by which Senator Duffy's expenses were repaid, either before or after the fact," said Wright, who had been Harper's chief of staff since January 2011.

He said he regrets the impact the matter has had on the government, the Tory caucus and all his colleagues.

Ray Novak, Harper's principal secretary since 2008, will take over as chief of staff, the CBC's Hannah Thibedeau reports.

Wright is the former managing director of Onex, the largest private sector employer in Canada. Onex owns or manages companies such as Indigo, Cineplex, Allison Transmission, Hawker Beechcraft and ResCare.

'Nigel believed he was acting in the public interest'

Harper issued his own statement on Sunday, confirming Wright's decision.

“It is with great regret that I have accepted the resignation of Nigel Wright as my chief of staff. I accept that Nigel believed he was acting in the public interest, but I understand the decision he has taken to resign.

"I want to thank Nigel for his tremendous contribution to our government over the past two and a half years," the prime minister said.

The Prime Minister's Office had been insisting as recently as Friday that Wright had the "full confidence" of the prime minister and would be "staying on."

Harper will meet with his Conservative caucus on Tuesday, one day earlier than usual, before departing on an official four-day trip to South America.

Duffy announced last month that he had repaid, on March 25, about $90,000 claimed over the last three years for his Senate housing and living expenses.

He is one of three senators who have been at the centre of an external audit since December over expense claims.

The former journalist resigned from the Conservative caucus on Thursday, a week after audit and Senate committee reports were released on his expenses, as well as those of Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau and Liberal Senator Mac Harb.

A Senate committee concluded earlier this month that Harb owes $51,482 in housing-related expenses, a finding that prompted him to quit the Liberal caucus and sit as an independent.

The committee said that Sen. Patrick Brazeau — expelled from the Conservative caucus after he was charged in February with assault and sexual assault — should repay $48,744 in expenses.

An audit is still being conducted on the expenses of Senator Pamela Wallin, who stepped aside from the Conservative caucus on Friday.

Liberal MP Bob Rae said someone needs to take a "hard look" at whether more than just ethics rules were broken when Wright wrote a personal cheque to cover Duffy's expenses.

"There are provisions, not only in the Senate ethical code, but there are also provisions in the Criminal Code of Canada. People can't accept payments if you're a public office holder which have the effect of changing the activities of government."

Rae said the $90,000 payment had a "direct impact on the conduct of an audit into the activities of Senator Duffy and other senators."

PM in 'full-fledged damage control,' NDP says

"We know that Senator Duffy's audit was shortened, was changed, because of the fact that he made this $90,000 payment and that he made this payment because Mr. Wright gave him the money to make the payment," he told CBC News.

NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus also pressed for more answers on Sunday and said the Conservatives "are now in full-out political panic" over the payment.

"I think what the resignation tells us is that the prime minister is now in full-fledged damage control. They pushed Pamela Wallin off the ship on Friday, Mike Duffy went for the high jump the day before, now Nigel Wright's gone, the prime minister's taking off for Peru," he said.

"Nigel Wright needs to come clean on the details of the deal he negotiated to cover up for Senator Duffy's expense claims and whitewash the Senate committee report," Angus said, adding it's important to have an independent investigation to determine exactly what happened.


Oh look, Wright resigned so there's nothing to see here! Do these pricks have so little respect and so much contempt for the Canadian citizen that they think we'll buy the story that the PM knew nothing? That Wright would gift thousands of dollars to some fat prick in the Senate and expect nothing in return? Scandal after scandal and we're being treated like we're children who can't understand anything. Conservative clown car is falling apart.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Liberals fail in attempt to force Stephen Harper to testify about Mike Duffy payment

Liberal motion defeated by Conservative majority on Commons committee as political skirmishing over Senate scandal intensifies.

OTTAWA—A Liberal attempt to force Prime Minister Stephen Harper to testify on what he knew about a $90,172 payment from his office to Sen. Mike Duffy was defeated by the Conservative majority on the Commons ethics committee.

“Once again, the Conservatives want to cover up and deny a public hearing into this very important issue,” said Liberal MP Scott Andrews, who moved the motion to call Harper to give evidence.

The political skirmishing over the alleged Conservative cover-up of the Senate expense scandal gathered force Monday after Harper returned to Ottawa — but not the daily Commons question period — following an official trip to Peru and Colombia last week.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair accused Harper of refusing to come clean with Canadians about the secret payment to Duffy to Nigel Wright, the prime minister’s now-resigned chief of staff.

“Last week the prime minister went to hide in Peru in order to avoid having to answer questions on the Senate scandal,” Mulcair said in the Commons. “When will the prime minister take responsibility, show accountability and finally start answering questions?”

Heritage Minister James Moore told MPs Harper “is taking responsibility and showing accountability by moving forward with what we said we would do, which is reform the Senate.” He urged all MPs to support Conservative efforts to bring in term limits for senators and introduce Senate elections.

Duffy, who quit the Conservative party on May 16 amid questions about his expense claims, is at the heart of the current uproar. After secretly receiving a cheque from Wright, the senator repaid $90,172 and refused to co-operate with auditors. Conservative senators on the key internal economy committee cited the fact that Duffy had repaid his improper expenses when they moved to exempt Duffy from criticism in a final report.

On Monday, the opposition continued to ask who else, besides Wright and Duffy, knew about the secret deal to pay back the senator’s ineligible expenses.

“Nigel Wright made it clear in his statements to the public when he resigned as chief of staff that he acted alone,” Moore responded in the Commons.

In his May 19 resignation statement, Wright accepted “sole responsibility” for writing the personal cheque to Duffy. But he did not actually say he was the only person involved in the matter.

“I did not advise the prime minister of the means by which Sen. Duffy’s expenses were repaid,” Wright said at the time.

Mulcair later accused Moore of trying to confuse the House of Commons.

“He was misleading the House,” Mulcair told reporters. “They’re playing with words all the time since the beginning of this file.”

But Conservatives pointed out Senate spending is being probed by ethics officers in the Commons and the Senate and that the Senate internal economy committee is re-examining Duffy’s expense claims.

The opposition questioned whether the Senate committee, having gone easy on Duffy once, should be allowed to do another investigation.

“That (the committee) will be checking itself in terms of its own work is a little bit ridiculous,” Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau told the media.

The RCMP is also looking into the Senate spending irregularities to see if a criminal investigation is warranted.

The Conservatives moved Monday to tighten up senators’ spending by requiring more details on their travel expense claims, restricting access to per diem expenses and cutting back on taxpayer-paid international travel.

Meanwhile, Trudeau was under fire from the Conservatives for saying in a Quebec newspaper that Quebecers have an “advantage” because they have 24 seats in the Senate versus the six each from Alberta and B.C. Trudeau explained later he was not expressing an opinion but “a statement of fact.”


What a shocker, Conservatives get in the way of yet another investigation that might implicate their leader. This is a good example of just how our system is failing - stack committee with party loyalists and get the answer you desire. It's absurd and it doesn't work to the best interests of Canadians.

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