This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Friday, April 22, 2016

His Injured Honour : Exonerated

"Was Nigel Wright actually ordering senior members of the Senate around as if they were mere pawns on a chess board? Were those same senior members of the Senate meekly acquiescing to Mr. Wright's orders? Were those same senior members of the Senate robotically marching to recite their scripted lines?"
"I was not presented with evidence suggesting expensive wining and dining, lavish living or pricey gambling junkets, or secret financial hideaways. ... The thrust of all of Senator Duffy's perceived misadventures was focused on Senate business."
"This case provided me with ample opportunity to assess the credibility of Senator Duffy. He was on the stand for many hours; at the end of the day I find that Senator Duffy is an overall credible witness."
"Senator Duffy believed reasonably ... that all of the travel encompassed by counts three to 20 were properly expensed as parliamentary functions."
"After reviewing the submissions and the facts in this case, I am not satisfied that the Crown has proven the guilt of Senator Duffy in relation to alleged fraudulent residency declarations, and their expense claims in connection thereto, beyond a reasonable doubt."
Ontario Court Justice Charles Vaillancourt, April 21, 2016, Ottawa
Mike Duffy
Sen. Mike Duffy arrives at the Ottawa courthouse Thursday April 21, 2016. (Tony Caldwell)

In clearing Senator Mike Duffy of all 31 charges brought against him by the Crown, Justice Vaillancourt chose to smear former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, his PMO staff, and his then-chief of staff, Nigel Wright. Judge Vaillancourt spoke scathingly of the "ruthless" actions taken by the PMO, when in fact it was Mike Duffy who ruthlessly sought to avail himself of as much of taxpayer largesse as he conceivably could. Nigel Wright, who was forced to resign in infamy, was exercising principle and due regard for tax dollars. He spent $90K of his own money to give Duffy an out.

From the very moment that Mr. Harper unwisely selected Mike Duffy as a Senator to represent Prince Edward Island, where he hadn't lived for decades, Mr. Duffy immediately schemed to profit. Before his appointment was even formally announced, this man began entitling himself to his perceived entitlements by expensing per diems, and charging the Senate by way of the taxpayer for meals he was eating in his home of over 20 years in Ottawa, using the fiction of a seasonal cottage in P.E.I. as his primary residence.

The Senate's loose accounting rules and regulations relied heavily on personal honour of honourable senators. That accounting did not take into account the entitled cupidity of people who tucked their version of personal accountability and honour high up on a shelf to be forgotten under layers of grime. The trips this man took for personal business, being careful to throw in casual and brief 'meetings' that could be referred to as Senate business allowed him to waste additional thousands on his whims.

When the Senate made it clear there were certain expenses they would not cover, Senator Duffy simply used a ruse to overcome those rules by authorizing someone he delegated for that purpose to issue cheques from an all-purpose account, for services that the Senate would not otherwise cover. And the smug senator with the grossly inflated opinion of his indispensability to the ruling political party of the time felt supremely confident of his place in the orbit of the government hierarchy to cover his unseemly arse.

Justice Vaillancourt and superannuated high-octane lawyer Donald Bayne who acted on Duffy's account, confident that he had an airtight case against a rules-slovenly Senate dependent on the principled honour system that they felt would be recognized by all distinguished Canadians elevated to the Senate, simply skimmed the surface of personal accountability, preferring to emphasize that no rules existed to precisely delineate what was permissible and what was not.

Senator Duffy simply followed the thread that informed him that he could do no wrong, and there were in fact, no precisely defined guidelines, so he could just go about making his own. Now that he has been exonerated in a Canadian court of law, but not in the greater arena of popular public opinion where the public gives short shrift to the egregiously greedy on the public dime, he will be free to return to the Senate, exercising a trifle more care in his judgement.

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