The Duffy ticker: Diving back into the rules

The trial of Mike Duffy on a need-to-know basis

Duffy arrives at the Ontario Court of Justice, in Ottawa

Blair Gable/Reuters

All eyes on #duffytrial. Nicholas Köhler will report daily to Maclean’s from his seat in the Ottawa courtroom. Watch for his files at the end of each court day. (His first dispatch is here.) We’ll also use this rolling ticker to track the essentials with help from our Canadian Press colleagues. The latest news is at the top. We’ll aim for brevity, unless a day calls for more detail.

If the Duffy trial is a marathon, this post will be like water stations along the way. Basically, we’re here for you. (Check back often.) Click on the black bar below to see the Duffy page we’ve created to follow the case:

    Day 14: April 24

    The unfilmable drama: Duffy’s defence takes on a Senate staffer

    This is an excerpt of Nick Köhler’s sketch of Duffy’s fourteenth day in court.

    7:50 p.m.: It would have made great television, and yet there was not a camera in the room. Mike Duffy, one of this country’s most celebrated broadcast journalists, turned senator, turned suspended senator charged with 31 counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery, was today at the centre of an unfilmable drama.

    The irony was as sublime as the action.

    The theatrics got raw and started early, in unfriendly jousting between Duffy’s lawyer, Donald Bayne, and one of the Crown prosecutors on this case, Jason Neubauer—”let’s not pick away, gentlemen, really and truly,” Justice Charles Vaillancourt, intervening, cut in at one point—then reached a point of heat hitherto unseen in Courtroom 33, at the Ottawa courthouse on Elgin Street, as Bayne launched into his cross-examination of a woman he sees as a hostile interlocutor.

    Nicole Proulx, head of the finance directorate at the Senate of Canada during the period of time under consideration here, had over the preceding two days given the Crown’s case a well needed jolt—well needed because Bayne has had a way of making perverse use of the prosecutors’ witnesses, subverting them to meet the needs of the defence.

    The Crown has endeavoured to show that the Senate is a place of well defined, clearly intelligible rules, which Duffy knew and deliberately broke.

    Bayne has at the same time done a good job of upsetting that narrative, exposing the place as a morass, and suggesting Duffy’s response to it all was reasonable and—among senators—not unique.

    For a while there, Proulx seemed everything the Crown needed: smart, unflappable, on the ball.

    —Nick Köhler

    Sonya Bell’s Duffy Compass

    4:30 p.m.: Mike Duffy is up. Judge Judy is down. Security guards are behind us. Summer election rumours are still ahead. The rest of your daily navigational guide to the drama is right here.

    —Sonya Bell

    The judge gets antsy

    1:38 p.m.: Witnesses at the trial of suspended senator Mike Duffy have spent days taking the court through the murky mish-mash of Senate expense rules, but the presiding judge suggested Friday it’s still not clear to him.

    Justice Charles Vaillancourt expressed frustration at the slow pace of the case, saying he’s only just beginning to see the broad brush strokes of the issues at hand and wants the Crown to get going.

    Vaillancourt weighed in during a tussle between assistant Crown attorney Jason Neubauer and defence lawyer Donald Bayne.

    Bayne was objecting to the nature of the testimony being given by Senate finance official Nicole Proulx, who has been on the stand since Wednesday.

    She used to run the Senate’s finance directorate, which would approve or reject expense claims based on whether or not they conformed to the rules. At the heart of the Crown’s case are allegations that Duffy deliberately circumvented those rules to get personal expenses paid for by taxpayers.

    Bayne disagreed with a line of questioning from Neubauer over the nature of Senate rules prior to 2012, saying the prosecutor was asking the witness for an opinion and to address hypotheticals.

    Neubauer said he was trying to show that before 2012, there were clear rules in place about what constituted a Senate expense, despite the fact that an updated rule book put out that year added more explicit guidelines than had existed previously.

    —Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

    Day 13: April 23

    Hubris in court. Wait, never mind, it’s gone …

    This is an excerpt of Nick Köhler’s sketch of Duffy’s thirteenth day in court.

    9:25 p.m.: There’s something thrilling about spotting real, honest-to-God hubris out in the wild. 

    Arrogance is dime a dozen—like seeing a falcon hovering among the highrises of a major city—but real, honest-to-God hubris, when someone managed to transform arrogance into performance art, a little bit of theatre, is awful rare. It’s the ivory-billed woodpecker of human failings.

    And we in Courtroom 33 just got to hear of this particular sighting second hand. That’ll do.

    The birder in this case was Nicole Proulx, former head of finance at the Senate of Canada. This was Proulx’s second day in the witness box, and she’s already demonstrated herself to be direct, unfussy, pleasant, and as destructive to Duffy’s defence as anyone who’s appeared so far.

    —Nick Köhler

    Sonya Bell’s Duffy Compass

    6:05 p.m.: Intrepid reporting is up. Law school applications are down. SARS are behind us. Comment from Ariana Grande is still ahead. The rest of your daily navigational guide to the drama is right here.

    —Sonya Bell

    Exhibit A: Democracy

    10:40 a.m.: Among the crowd gathered to watch the Duffy trial today are at least 27 high school students, Kristy Kirkup reports. They got to choose which case to watch – and may regret their decision. Today’s proceedings are expected to deal with the nitty-gritty of expense rules, as Senate finance director Nicole Proulx returns to the stand for a second day.

    —Sonya Bell

    Day 12: April 22

    Nicole Proulx muddies the water with clarity

    This is an excerpt of Nick Köhler’s sketch of Duffy’s twelfth day in court.

    8:03 p.m.: Like a good novel, the trial of Sen. Mike Duffy enticed us yesterday with vague clues about where the action of these proceedings will lead, then today thrust us back into the drudgery of Senate finance rules, arcane Red Chamber policy—frustrated, but still hungry.

    We needed those clues, and we’ll clutch them tight as we trudge through the dry precincts of the Crown’s case.

    Of course this is no novel, and the fate of a real man hangs in the balance. And yet the mystery remains. The conclusion of his trial will no doubt illuminate us on the question of his guilt or innocence. What remains unknown is how the trial will get us there: through what terrain, following which characters?

    —Nick Köhler

    Sonya Bell’s Duffy Compass

    5:48 p.m.: QP quips are up. Canada Post is down. Excitement/wonder is behind us. Fond reminiscing is still ahead. The rest of your daily navigational guide to the drama is right here.

    —Sonya Bell

    Dear Senator Duffy

    11:05 a.m.: Senate finance director Nicole Proulx is on the stand this morning, throwing the court back into the deep end of Senate rules and regulations, as much as they exist. Proulx read aloud a letter sent to Duffy when he was first appointed, which clearly states Senate resources are only to be used for carrying out parliamentary functions, that the senators themselves are accountable for how they use their resources, and that if they have any questions, they can ask Senate administration.

    —Sonya Bell

    Day 11: April 21

    The mysterious #duffytrial comes briefly into focus

    This is an excerpt of Nick Köhler’s sketch of Duffy’s eleventh day in court.

    7:53 p.m.: The trial of Sen. Mike Duffy folds within itself so many moving parts, so much that animates contemporary Canadian political life, and yet so much apparently tawdry business dealings also, that it’s been difficult, now and then, to get height enough on the situation to see it all at one glance.

    Today, Courtroom 33 achieved some of that altitude: suddenly, the disparate things that in aggregate make up the mystery at the centre of this Ottawa circus came into focus, then blurred all over again, concealed by clouds.

    The tantalizing glimpse of the Crown’s case in macro came in the main thanks to the testimony of one Matthew Donohue, the 30-year-old scion of Gerald Donohue, a man who, throughout these proceedings, has remained a much-mentioned but otherwise shadowy figure.

    —Nick Köhler

    Sonya Bell’s Duffy Compass

    4:48 p.m.: Jiffy Photo is up. Maple Ridge Media is down. Jokes about Duffy’s home(s) are behind us. Gerald Donohue is still ahead. The rest of your daily navigational guide to the drama is right here.

    —Sonya Bell

    A picture’s worth 1,000 dollars

    11:10 a.m.: Will and Kate, the Queen, and Bill Clinton have been dragged into the Duffy trial. The Crown is examining, invoice by invoice, the photos Mike Duffy paid to have enlarged at Jiffy Photo and Print in Kanata. Note that “Mike Duffy paid” means “via his friend’s firm, via his Senate budget.” The individual amounts are not large, ranging from $2-$200.

    —Sonya Bell

    Day 10: April 20

    Ottawa stitches Canada together. Mike Duffy did his part.

    This is an excerpt of Nick Köhler’s sketch of Duffy’s tenth day in court.

    8:31 p.m.: Today, Mike Duffy groaned.

    It happened while his cousin, David McCabe, was testifying under cross-examination from Charlottetown, P.E.I.—a compact man in an argyle sweater blinking at us in real time from a wall-mounted flat-screen television, speaking at us—”yis,” he’d say by way of affirmation—in the speech of the P.E.I. hinterlands.

    Donald Bayne, Sen. Duffy’s lawyer here in Courtroom 33, where Duffy faces 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery, was leading McCabe through just what kind of material he’d been scanning on the computer he learned to use in a course, then sent electronically Duffy’s way.

    Photos of the cousins, of their kids playing soccer, of birthdays—that kind of thing.

    Duffy dropped his head into a hand, emitted a short, low groan—a petit mal rather than a grand mal as the terms relate to that spectacular class of outburst that is the groan in open court—and he shook his head.

    It was the first reaction he’s permitted himself since his trial began two weeks ago—he’s otherwise remained immobile, stoic—and you had to be watching close. He recovered well.

    —Nick Köhler

    Sonya Bell’s Duffy Compass

    5:40 p.m.: Duffy family values are up. All the technology is down. Ottawa’s undivided attention is behind us. Trips to Bora Bora Bora are still ahead. The rest of your daily navigational guide to the drama is right here.

    —Sonya Bell

    Money for nothin’ and your cheques for free

    10:35 a.m.: We’ve been promised (again) that Ezra Levant will testify today, but first up this morning is Duffy’s cousin, David McCabe, who used to send the senator interesting articles and photos from the PEI newspaper. He took it upon himself to do this. But, like the office volunteer and veteran journalist before him, McCabe found a $500 cheque from Maple Ride Media waiting in his mailbox. It turns out working for Duffy is a bit like watching Oprah: You get a $500 cheque! You get a $500 cheque! Everybody gets a $500 cheque!

    —Sonya Bell

    Day Nine: April 17

    All the Senate’s a Hollywood soundstage

    This is an excerpt of Nick Köhler’s sketch of Duffy’s ninth day in court.

    8:37 p.m.: Observers of the proceedings underway in Courtroom 33 today learned that Sen. Mike Duffy, on trial for a good number of fraud, breach of trust and bribery charges, is Canada’s answer to Larry David, that the Senate is L.A., and that all of us in court every day are mere extras in an Ottawa edition of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

    Fans of that HBO show know that David’s character (named after himself) is hapless, that he frequently butts heads with more capable adversaries, and that he just as frequently enlists the help of friends even more hapless and less capable than he.   

    That really is Duff all over.

    —Nick Köhler

    Sonya Bell’s Duffy Compass

    5:35 p.m.: Confusion is up. Duffy’s ego is down. The Oxford dictionary is behind us. Ezra Levant is still ahead. The rest of your daily navigational guide to the drama is right here.

    —Sonya Bell

    Duffy fights internet trolls

    3:20 p.m.: Cheques issued from Donohue’s companies are the basis for several of the fraud and breach of trust charges faced by Duffy.

    Another cheque, this one for $500, was issued to journalist, author and now law student Mark Bourrie, who first met Duffy in the 1990s when he was a CTV reporter.

    Bourrie told the court that after Duffy was appointed to the Senate, he kept in touch. He learned of a problem the senator was having with anonymous commentators on sites like Wikipedia and YouTube trashing his reputation.

    Bourrie said he looked into the sites’ policies on getting that type of material taken down, but kept telling Duffy he’d need a lawyer to do anything about it.

    “If I had known that this was ever going to be anything of any interest to anybody else, I’d have made notes or kept a record of it, but at the time it’s basically a friend calling up and saying, or emailing and saying, ‘Look at this,'” Bourrie said.

    Bourrie’s wife was a lawyer, but wasn’t involved in the exchanges, he testified. He said she wasn’t set up to actually provide legal advice. Nonetheless, a cheque made out to her from one of Donohue’s companies arrived in the mail, unsolicited.

    Bourrie said it was never cashed and he told Duffy not to send another as his wife had done no work.

    “It came up over and over again,” Bourrie said. “He may not be the best listener in the world.”

    Another $500 cheque from Maple Ridge Media arrived, this time addressed to Bourrie directly. He deposited it.

    —Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

    What the heck is this?

    3:20 p.m.: A cheque for a service Mike Duffy never used and another for a service he was never asked to pay for came under scrutiny Friday at the suspended senator’s trial.

    Court was told that Duffy didn’t know he’d been signed up to receive Atlantic Canada research reports by caucus colleague Sen. Percy Mockler, whose plan was to split the $5,000 subscription fee with four other senators.

    When Elisabeth Brouse, a former vice president of the analysis firm MQO Research, sent a letter welcoming Duffy and the other senators to the service in 2012, she got a surprised reaction.

    “What the heck is this?” Duffy asked in an email.

    She phoned him and explained and he told her to make sure the Senate got the invoice for his share of the bill by the end of March 2012.

    It was sent, but Duffy never paid. The company tried to follow up, but when it was found that Duffy had never logged in to access the reports, he was told he shouldn’t feel compelled to pay the bill.

    He did anyway, asking first that the company re-date the invoice to July because otherwise there was “no way” the Senate would pay. He then sent a cheque for $1,054.66 issued by a firm run by Gerald Donohue, a Duffy friend who operated two companies that allegedly helped Duffy get around Senate rules.

    —Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

    On common ground

    1:38 p.m.: “I’m sort of a short, fat, balding guy from a small town and so is Mike, so I think we kind of got along.” — journalist Mark Bourrie on how he became friends with Mike Duffy in the 1990s.

    —The Canadian Press

    Why, Your Honour? Why?

    11:15 a.m.: Not for the first time, the court is hearing that Duffy paid for legitimate Senate expenses through his friend’s firm, rather than directly from his own budget. Friday’s first witness, Elizabeth Brouse of Atlantic polling firm MQO Research, testified Duffy sent them a cheque for their services from Ottawa ICF, a firm owned by Gerald Donohue. Even getting that cheque wasn’t without difficulty—first, Duffy insisted Brouse change the invoice date to move it to the next fiscal year.

    —Sonya Bell

    All eyes on Ezra

    9:50 a.m.: The trial’s full witness list remains under wraps, but two names are making the rounds this morning: media personalities Ezra Levant and Mark Bourrie will take the stand today. Both received cheques from Duffy’s friend’s firm for services provided to Duffy. Bourrie has already arrived at the courthouse, while Levant will testify via video conference.

    —Sonya Bell

    Day Eight: April 16

    The Genie of Cavendish, raining contracts like manna

    This is an excerpt of Nick Köhler’s sketch of Duffy’s eighth day in court.

    7:51 p.m.: Do not play poker with Jason Neubauer.

    The Crown prosecutor, tasked with examining personal trainer Mike Croskery in the witness box today, managed to get through it without getting the giggles. That would suggest Neubauer is a master of the stony-faced bluff.

    Croskery charged Sen. Mike Duffy somewhere in the region of $40 an hour when he started working him out in Duffy’s Kanata basement in late 2007. But things changed after Duffy became a senator in 2009: Croskery suddenly found himself billing Duffy closer to $500 per session.

    It was, Croskery told Neubauer, all Duffy’s idea.

    “I believe he said, ‘Let’s do this as consulting,'” Croskery told the court, explaining during testimony that he and Duffy were now working on a project aimed at developing a fitness program for Canada’s aging population—a little venture Duffy called the Age Wave.

    “As you meet to do what?” Neubauer asked, just the slightest bit of edge creeping into his voice.

    “As we meet for our exercise, I guess,” Croskery replied, explaining later: “It wasn’t like he was really out of breath.”

    —Nick Köhler

    Sonya Bell’s Duffy Compass

    7:06 p.m.: The witness count is up. Consulting standards are down. Senate administrative rules are behind us. Duffy as folk hero is still ahead. The rest of your daily navigational guide to the drama is right here.

    —Sonya Bell

    Up Now: The fitness trainer

    5:15 p.m.: Mike Croskery isn’t just any fitness trainer. The Ottawa-based proprietor of Myomax Fitness and decorated bodybuilder boasts a long client list of Mounties, firefighters, paramedics, elite Canadian athletes and even park wardens. None of them, however, has the star power of the Myomax customer whose services put Croskery on the stand. That’d be Sen. Mike Duffy, who subcontracted Croskery’s consulting services for years.

    If you’ve followed #duffytrial, you’ve seen cheques that look like this:


    That handwriting, by now familiar in Courtroom 33, is that of Duffy associate Gerald Donohue, a key player in the senator’s criminal trial. Donohue, Duffy’s friend and contractor, signed cheques in his company’s name over several years that amounted to about $65,000—and paid for services that included makeup application and Croskery’s sessions. The Crown had a few questions for the personal trainer.

    Crown attorney Jason Neubauer wondered about the nature of Croskery’s consulting. Court heard that the sessions included both fitness training and ongoing conversations about the aging process for baby boomers—and, possibly, a publication that explored that topic. Where the fitness ended and the consulting started remains somewhat unclear, as does the ultimate substance of the conversations about aging boomers. But those conversations, characterized as “researching the age wave,” do pop up in some of Croskery’s invoices. To wit, an invoice from a few weeks after the 2011 election:

    Neubauer asked about the 6.00 listed under the quantity of services. Why 6.00? Croskery said Duffy requested that specific styling, though it was unclear why the number couldn’t be 1.00 or 10.00 or any other positive integer. The CBC’s Kady O’Malley noted, at that point, that Duffy “does not look like he’s enjoying this line of questioning.” She remarked further that the senator was “leaning on the desk, laptop closed, glasses off and wrongside up, staring at the witness.”

    A pesky detail in the middle of a trial full of ’em.

    —Nick Taylor-Vaisey

    Up Now: The Makeup Artist

    11:52 a.m.: This trial’s on a roll this morning, with the Crown’s fourth witness taking the stand before lunch. Jacqueline Lambert has done makeup for Duffy since the late 1980s, but is in the witness box to answer questions about payments she received for doing his makeup as a senator: once for a format photo shoot, and once for an event with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

    —Sonya Bell

    The Crown calls Ashley Cain

    10:55 a.m.: The identity of the trial’s third witness has been revealed: she is Ashley Cain, who volunteered in Duffy’s office a day a week from January-July 2010. She is the paid “volunteer” referenced earlier in the trial. For her work helping out with things like the office mail, Cain later received a cheque for $500 from the firm owned by Duffy’s friend Gerald Donohue. Cain now works in the Prime Minister’s Office as a correspondence writer, responding to letters from the public.

    In stark contrast to the first two witnesses, Cain’s stay on the stand was short and sweet. She described the $500 payment as an unexpected (but rather modest) amount for the hours she committed. After about 30 minutes, both sides have wrapped up questioning.

    —Sonya Bell

    Day Seven: April 15

    Plucking the wings off a visitor from fairyland

    This is an excerpt of Nick Köhler’s sketch of Duffy’s seventh day in court.

    7:56 p.m.:It would be as painful to watch a barrister pick apart a pixie on the topic of gravity—that mysterious force, found only in this human world, dragging her earthbound.

    In the Senate of Canada, this pixie has wings. Administrative fairy dust heals each breach in time’s fabric. And a senator’s signature is magic—black ink animating all things.

    The trouble for her was that here, in court, she was being asked real-world questions, maybe for the first time.

    The senator with the magic ink is Mike Duffy, who is on trial in Courtroom 33, in Ottawa’s Elgin Street courthouse, for 31 fraud, breach of trust and bribery-related charges.

    And that visitor from fairy land was Sonia Makhlouf, a Senate human resources director, in the witness box for her third consecutive day.

    —Nick Köhler

    Sonya Bell’s Duffy Compass

    6:49 p.m.: Billable hours are up. Sonia Makhlouf is down. Our last scrap of hope in the Senate is behind us. The Chalet sauce defence is still ahead. The rest of your daily navigational guide to the drama is right here.

    —Sonya Bell

    Duffy on trial until 2016?

    2:35 p.m.: The prime minister’s former chief of staff Nigel Wright once referred to the Mike Duffy affair as “Chinese water torture.” It appears the drip, drip, drip of information at Duffy’s trial will spill over its scheduled end date.

    That could mean many things — including days in court this summer, in the orbit of the election campaign, or even an extension of the case into 2016.

    The likelihood of more days simply getting tacked on in June and July is unclear. All players in the trial must look at their timetables, and there must be room in the Ottawa courthouse.

    There are more challenges when looking at the fall schedule. Crown Prosecutor Mark Holmes is booked to work a murder trial.

    October is the time foreseen for the trial of former Liberal Senator Mac Harb, who is also facing charges of fraud and breach of trust in relation to his living expenses.

    —The Canadian Press

    The Senate needs its own Bible

    2:21 p.m.: Courtroom 33 familiarized itself, as day seven wore on, with the Senate’s General Materiel Management Policy. I know what you’re thinking: any self-respecting public institution that expends millions of taxpayer dollars every year ought to have a policy that governs the management of materiel. How else would such an august chamber logically procure all of the goods and services its senators require?

    That question is rhetorical. Obviously, clear rules and policies are things of virtue—after all, that’s what Sen. Mike Duffy’s criminal trial on 31 counts of fraud, bribery and breach of trust is all about. But defence lawyer Donald Bayne’s procurement-related peppering of Senate HR clerk Sonia Makhlouf, a three-day veteran of the witness box, might have a casual observer losing track of exactly which policy is the subject of the court’s attention.

    This, for the record, is the Senate’s General Materiel Management Policy, which numbers 20 pages.

    The court has also inhaled the Senators’ Resource Guide, the Senate Administrative Rules, a couple of “welcome letters” to Sen. Mike Duffy that also explain the upper chamber’s administrative minutia, a 1988 committee report that established rules for Senate research budgets, and a 2010 report on internal audits that pointed out just how many of these documents are and were floating around. Those audits, and the broader Senate expense scandal, provoked rule/policy/guideline changes, most of which you can find somewhere in Ottawa, or possibly on the internet.

    What the Senate ought to consider after this trial’s conclusion, no matter the outcome, is a single document that rules them all. A bible for sober second thinkers. Such an undertaking could require the help of every senator and every staffer, all stuffed into the Senate chamber for as long as it takes to produce the sprawling tome. Then, whenever a Prime Minister gets around to appointing new bodies to fill the increasingly vacant Senate, they’ll find The Big Book waiting for them on their desks. Job one: read.

    —Nick Taylor-Vaisey

    Ruling: 41 days won’t be enough

    10:34 a.m.: Justice Charles Vaillancourt is seeking to extend the length of the Duffy trial, acknowledging the obvious: we won’t get through the 50 witnesses still to come by mid-June. This is because of the lengthy questioning the witnesses have faced so far: retired Senate law clerk Mark Audcent was on the stand for four days, and Senate HR clerk Sonia Makhlouf is in the witness box this morning for her third day.

    —Sonya Bell

    Day Six: April 14

    Senate oversight? There’s no such thing.

    This is an excerpt of Nick Köhler’s sketch of Duffy’s sixth day in court.

    9:28 p.m.: Donald Bayne has dark eyes and white hair, a patrician face and bearing, and he favours grey suits the colour of armour. For Sonia Makhlouf, after her second day in the witness box, it must be like having the ghost of Hamlet’s dad on her trail—returned with booming voice to make sure her job, a little matter of Senate spending oversight, is done.

    Poor Makhlouf, not that it’s her fault. There’s no such thing as oversight in the Senate.

    Today, in Courtroom 33 at the Ottawa courthouse, where Sen. Mike Duffy is on trial for a panoply of charges—bribery, fraud, and breach of trust—observers in the gallery watched Bayne, who is Duffy’s lawyer, hammer that very point.

    No matter that Makhlouf, a Senate human resources officer and staffer for 18 years, wasn’t in the business of policing the senators she worked to serve.

    And never mind, either, that her job apparently consisted mostly of making sure senators, who’d asked for taxpayer money to purchase goods and services, filled in forms correctly.

    Did the senator pencil in even the vaguest notion of what the good or service comprised? Good. The maximum cost? Excellent. The start and end date? Sure thing. The senator’s signature? “That’s the most important part,” Makhlouf told court.

    —Nick Köhler

    Just who can’t a senator hire?

    6:29 p.m.: We referred to the dizzying number of documents meant to guide senators as they go about their jobs. You can add the Senators’ Resource Guide, oft-mentioned among the growing stack, to your bedtime reading. Today, defence lawyer Donald Bayne paid particular attention to chapter six of the resource guide, that which concerns itself with human resources management.

    Our old friend, Discretion, makes an appearance in section 2.1: “Under the Senate Administrative Rules, senators have the sole discretion to cause employees to be hired to serve on their staff.” More proof, argued Bayne, that senators run their own affairs with few barriers—a privilege about which the guide elaborates in section 2.1:

    Although the Senate Administrative Rules do not impose limitations or conditions in regard to senators’ sole discretion, the Rules reflect a common set of values and ethical conduct in upholding the public trust. Fairness, integrity and transparency should guide senators’ actions in serving the public interest. These guidelines should assist senators in demonstrating these values when carrying out their parliamentary role, including the hiring of staff and contractors.

    The Senate of Canada is not exactly the Wild West. Not just anyone can be hired. Behold, the restrictions and “social considerations” enshrined in section 2.2:


    So, then, an upbeat Sen. Mike Duffy, marching into work on Day One as a Senator, ought to have considered the linguistic prowess and ethnocultural diversity of job applicants or contractors, and he ought to have rejected family members and minors. Beyond that, Duffy’s sole discretion opened the door to so very many opportunities. The resource guide does articulate the Senate’s formal contracting process, but the guidelines also allow that, “for very short and specific job assignments, a formal contract may not be necessary and an invoice with a certification document may be accepted for payment.”

    Defence lawyer Donald Bayne highlighted for the courtroom that bit about short-term jobs not requiring contracts. Senate HR officer Sonia Makhlouf, on the stand for a second day, replied that contracts are now encouraged in every instance. Bayne asked for a document that says as much and Makhlouf, it seems, couldn’t recall specifics. If you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably earned a job in the Senate HR office.

    For keeners, here is the Senators’ Resource Guide’s sixth chapter, in its entirety and as entered into Courtroom 33’s evidence:

    —Nick Taylor-Vaisey

    Sonya Bell’s Duffy Compass

    5:39 p.m.: Tim Hortons is up. Thomas Mulcair is down. Accountability is so behind. Duffy Tax Tips are still ahead. The rest of your daily navigational guide to the drama is right here.

    —Sonya Bell

    Words of the day: latitude, discretion

    3:50 p.m.: Remember when Ernst & Young delivered some warnings-laden audits of Senate administration to the Red Chamber? Of course you do. If you’ve paid close attention to #duffytrial, you’ll recall Defence lawyer Donald Bayne repeatedly pointing to those audits as proof that, when they were completed in 2010 (long after Sen. Mike Duffy took his seat in the chamber), confusion reigned among all manner of Senate administrative rules. Today, as Bayne quizzed Senate HR officer Sonia Makhlouf, he returned to the audits.

    The eighth page of the Annual Report on Internal Audits 2009-2010, compiled by the Senate’s internal economy committee and laced with Ernst & Young’s myriad concerns, alerted senators to the sheer number of policies, procedures and guidelines they’re meant to respect as they file expenses.

    Consistent application of policies and procedures. In addition to the Senate Administrative Rules, there are 12 policies and procedures/guidance documented for processing and administration of Senators’ office expenditures. Several of the Senate’s policies are being updated and revised to strengthen the control environment. There is a risk of inconsistent application of policies and understanding of the policies across Senators’ offices.

    Bayne’s overarching point, stated and reiterated over and over, remains that Duffy only followed the rules as he saw them. If he fouled up, goes the argument, it’s only because all those reams of guidelines were so darn confusing to Ol’ Duff.

    —Nick Taylor-Vaisey

    Words of the day: latitude, discretion

    1:40 p.m.: Way back in 1988, when Mike Duffy scored his first gig as a political talk-show host on Baton Broadcasting, the Senate was carving out rules relating to senators’ research budgets. That spring, the Red Chamber’s internal economy committee recommended new guidelines that Senate HR officer Sonia Makhlouf, on the stand for a second day, still counts as a foundational document in her day-to-day work.

    Defence lawyer Donald Bayne found a couple of important words in that 1988 report—discretion and latitude—that he thinks help prove his client’s innocence.

    The former comes up in language that sets out the components of senators’ $40,000 annual research budgets, including “up to $10,000 which may be allocated at the Senators’ discretion.” When it comes to research undertaken, the report says, senators ought to have “full discretion in selecting the public policy topics and studies they wish to pursue.”

    That latter arises where the report recommends that when an ad hoc committee assesses senators’ applications for funding, that committee “would be expected to allow latitude when reviewing applications in order to ensure that each Senator is able to carry out his or her mandate in a manner consistent with the Senator’s interests and objectives in the Senate.”

    Finally, the report reminds senators who get the wrong idea that they “must be conscious of the requirement to expend public monies prudently.” Here’s how the relevant portion of that document, entered as evidence in Courtroom 33, appears to those in the room.


    And here’s the full committee report.

    —Nick Taylor-Vaisey

    Let the cross-exam games begin

    11:35 a.m.: Defence lawyer Donald Bayne is asking the questions today, with Senate HR officer Sonia Makhlouf on the stand for her second day. As part of his thorough review of Senate documents, Bayne hit on a word he likes a lot: latitude. As in, a 1988 document states a senator should be granted “latitude” in what he wants done. If Duffy’s lucky, that will also include in which province he wants to do it.

    —Sonya Bell

    Senators given “broad discretion” over hiring

    11:22 a.m.: Mike Duffy’s defence lawyer is using the cross-examination of a Senate official to make the case that his office contracts and payments were handed out within the rules.

    The court has been told that the suspended senator awarded contracts to a friend, who in turn made payments to other service providers including a makeup artist and an office volunteer.

    Defence lawyer Donald Bayne took Senate human resources officer Sonia Makhlouf through upper chamber rules that define what constitutes a senator’s staff — language that includes the word volunteer.

    Makhlouf agreed with Bayne that the Senate’s administrative rules give senators broad discretion over the hiring of staff and the awarding of contracts.

    —The Canadian Press

    Day Five: April 13

    Mike Duffy, patron saint of the good ol’ days

    This is an excerpt of Nick Köhler’s sketch of Duffy’s fifth day in court.

    7:06 p.m.: Across the street from the Ottawa courthouse on Elgin Street is the little yellow building where for many years my grandfather, a piano player, took requests in the lounge upstairs.

    The Ottawa courthouse wasn’t there then—it used to be on Daly Street, with another bar across the road where the lawyers and judges knocked shoulders with the hoodlums. The Stopwatch Gang, that team of crackerjack bank robbers whose split-second timing bust them into vaults across North America, scooping millions, once hung out there—Ottawa was more or less the gang’s hometown, after all—and when a couple of their associates split town mid-trial, they threw the goodbye party right there at the Daly Street spot. (I once interviewed a Stopwatch member’s lawyer, off the record—he had since become a judge—and you could hear he was still charmed by the rascal, and spent the whole call rhapsodizing.)

    The place on Elgin where my grandfather played was called Friday’s—now it’s Beckta, which to my ear sounds like an over-the-counter solution to indigestion—and my grandfather, Lyle Köhler, could play whatever you threw at him. I seem to remember him coming home late at night, wearing what I took as a kid to be a tuxedo. He’d played the piano in the RCAF Streamliners, the Royal Canadian Air Force swing band, during the war, performing “Chattanooga Choo Choo” like a good Canadian at the Battle of the Bulge, with paratroopers dropping all ’round.

    —Nick Köhler

    Sonya Bell’s Duffy Compass

    5:05 p.m.: Duffy friend requests are up. Sen. Nancy Ruth is down. Duffy’s lawyer is behind. Barbara Bush is still ahead. The rest of your daily navigational guide to the drama is right here.

    —Sonya Bell

    Duffy framed family photos on Senate’s dime, says Crown

    2:17 p.m.: Mike Duffy had the Senate pay to frame pictures of his family members and for photos to be sent to former American first lady Barbara Bush, an Ottawa courtroom heard Monday in the suspended senator’s fraud and bribery trial.

    The Crown also suggested Duffy carefully juggled and squeezed his upper chamber office budget in order to pay the maximum amount possible to a friend doing contract work.

    Crown prosecutor Jason Neubauer went page by page through a series of contracts paid out to Maple Ridge Media, a firm owned by Gerald Donohue, a former colleague of Duffy’s from broadcasting days.

    Neubauer didn’t get into detail, but asked Senate human resources officer Sonia Makhlouf whether she would approve the photographic work — such as an 8×10 mounted photograph, with the notation Barbara Bush. Duffy’s diaries, filed in court last week, mentioned sending photos to Bush in 2010.

    “I will not proceed with it and probably I will bring it to a higher level,” Makhlouf said.

    —Jennifer Ditchburn, The Canadian Press

    Court examines Duffy contracts worth $65,000

    11:04 a.m.: Office contracts that suspended senator Mike Duffy awarded for services ranging from speech writing to makeup are being reviewed in an Ottawa courtroom.

    One set of charges Duffy faces relates to $65,000 in payments that were made to different contractors, allegedly through an umbrella fund set up with longtime Duffy friend Gerald Donohue.

    Prosecutor Jason Neubauer is questioning Senate human resources officer Sonia Makhlouf, who directly reviewed Duffy’s service contract requests.

    —The Canadian Press

    Sonia Makhlouf takes the stand

    10:40 a.m.: This trial finally has a second witness, but only after some procedural rumbling. The Crown and defence engaged in an early morning dispute today, with Duffy’s lawyer raising an issue of untimely disclosure. He says he only got a document this morning that the Crown intends to use when questioning today’s witness – Sonia Makhlouf, a Senate human resources official. The judge says he will give Bayne time to review the documents before cross examination, but Makhlouf is taking the stand as scheduled.

    —Sonya Bell

    Day Four: April 10

    The subject of honour and the genie of Cavendish

    This is an excerpt of Nick Köhler’s sketch of Duffy’s fourth day in court.

    8:33 p.m.: It’s rare that a man combines modesty with a world-class brain, but Mark Audcent, retired law clerk to the Senate of Canada, qualifies. And it takes just those kinds of unpretentious smarts to be able, in the last fading moments of a period in the witness box, to turn two days of stellar cross-examination work on its head.

    The moment came as Crown prosecutor Mark Holmes launched into his re-examination of Audcent, who he’d originally called to the stand three days ago to show just how clear the Senate rules are that Sen. Mike Duffy, on trial in the Ottawa courthouse’s Courtroom 33, is accused of breaking.

    —Nick Köhler

    Sonya Bell’s Duffy Compass

    4:59 p.m.: Duffy’s commitment to PEI is up. Justin Bieber is down. This trial is running behind. Witness #2 is still ahead. The rest of your daily navigational guide to the drama is right here.

    —Sonya Bell

    Bieber, for the prosecution

    4:12 p.m.:”Justin Bieber is 21 years old. And so — see if this helps, at least me, understand — if the Governor General, acting on the advice of the prime minister, appointed Justin Bieber to the Senate tomorrow, would he become 30?” — Crown prosecutor Mike Holmes, arguing that just because Mike Duffy was made a senator for Prince Edward Island, that didn’t automatically make him a resident of the province.

    —The Canadian Press

    An audit’s many warnings

    3:30 p.m.: #duffytrial found itself pondering what might be the sexiest document so far slid under Courtroom 33’s microscope: The Senate of Canada’s Annual Report on Internal Audits 2009-2010. Phew, what a title. Hard to believe the thing, given a chance, wouldn’t have torn up Amazon’s Christmas top-sellers list at its publication in December 2010.

    The report was a culmination of three audits of Senate administration, and its observations offered the red chamber’s internal economy committee an eye-opening look into the functioning of the Senate. The audits examined senators’ office expenditures, services contracts, and job classification functions. Some problems cropped up. The auditors, for example, “identified some weaknesses in file documentation, such as transaction files with inadequate, missing, or incomplete supporting documentation.” They also determined that “some administrative policies were outdated, inadequate, or non-existent,” and “in certain instances, policies were poorly communicated and/or not well understood by users.”

    Everyone who’s stayed up to speed on defence lawyer Donald Bayne’s mission in court knows that he hopes to prove the utter fuzziness and confusion surrounding all manner of Senate rules at the time of Mike Duffy’s appointment. The tenth page of the 2010 audit report delves into what constitutes “parliamentary function,” and which partisan activities are eligible for, say, reimbursement of expenses. Back in 2010, the auditors warned of unclear definitions that sowed confusion.

    Although a definition of a parliamentary function exists within the SARs, there is a lack of clear guidelines and criteria clarifying what activities constitute a parliamentary function. For example, there is no clear guidance made between partisan activities relating to Senate business (allowable expenses) and partisan activities on behalf of political parties which may not be eligible. This issue affects Finance staff responsible for processing claims as well as the level of understanding of the rules by Senators’ offices and can lead to inconsistent interpretation and processing of reimbursements.

    You’ll find a photocopied version of that 2010 report among the reams of Crown exhibits. Here’s what the Court sees.


    —Nick Taylor-Vaisey

    Bayne tests the court’s patience

    12:21 p.m.: Defence lawyer Donald Bayne’s tactics are wearing on the patience of the Crown, which is objecting to the fact retired Senate law clerk Mark Audcent is being asked to review materials and issues already covered in court.

    Even Justice Charles Vaillancourt told Bayne to move on after one such interjection.

    Today, Bayne explored a 2010 report by the committee overseeing Senate administration that found the rules were too broad and vulnerable to misinterpretation by senators or their staff.

    He asked Audcent whether, in light of that report, anyone had come to him to suggest things needed to be changed.

    Audcent declined to answer, saying to do so could violate the solicitor-client privilege that exists between him and senators.

    —The Canadian Press

    Duffy and raindrops and mascots, oh my

    9:58 a.m.: Duffy arrived in the rain this morning to a new supporter. But unlike Patrick Brazeau, this Sens fan probably won’t get inside the court. The trial resumes at 10 a.m.

    —Sonya Bell

    Day Three: April 9

    The PM is just a girl he used to know

    This is an excerpt of Nick Köhler’s sketch of Duffy’s third day in court.

    7:53 p.m.: From inside Ottawa’s Elgin Street courthouse, his arrival is signalled through the glass and revolving doors with a burst of light, like electricity in a bottle. The boom mics rise, then lunge forward in unison. Then, all of a sudden out of that silent commotion, Sen. Mike Duffy, on trial here for bribery, breach of trust and fraud, slips inside.

    Here Duffy’s new persona is in full view, and he is a blank. He looks unwaveringly, resolutely dead ahead, like a man who’s cut in line and is ignoring the complaints of those behind him. The quality of his suit, its cut and the grade of the wool, is obvious—he takes great pride in how he dresses—and he walks, a lightweight satchel in one hand, with a steady, deliberate gait.

    —Nick Köhler

    Sonya Bell’s Duffy Compass

    6:23 p.m.: Pamela Wallin is up. Stephen Harper is down. The Senate’s vague definitions are behind us. Duffy Date Nights are still ahead. The rest of your daily navigational guide to the drama is right here.

    —Sonya Bell

    What’s a parliamentary function?

    4:14 p.m.: Exhibit A’s package of documents includes Mike Duffy’s “welcome letter” to the Senate, penned by Nicole Proulx, then the Senate’s director of finance. Proulx offered a brief welcome to Parliament’s upper chamber before getting down to brass tacks. Her explanation of proper use of Senate resources sheds some light on which partisan activities Duffy was told would count as parliamentary functions. Check out the bold text.

    “Parliamentary functions are defined in the Senate Administrative Rules as “duties and activities related to the position of a senator, wherever performed, including public and official business and partisan matters, but excluding activities related to the election of a member of the House of Commons during an election under the Canada Elections Act,” the letter reads. “Senate resources may not be used for partisan matters that are non-parliamentary in nature such as nomination campaigns or election campaigns.”

    That distinction sounds germane given the ongoing, two-year-old debate about possibly inappropriate expenses Duffy claimed during the 2011 federal election.


    —Nick Taylor-Vaisey

    The Prime Minister approves

    4:03 p.m.: “To Duff: A great journalist and a great senator. Thanks for being one of my best, hardest-working appointments ever!” — Inscription from Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Duffy on a photo featuring the two of them at an event together in Cambridge, Ont., in 2009. The photo was introduced into evidence Thursday at Duffy’s trial.

    —The Canadian Press

    What’s a partisan activity?

    1:10 p.m.: Donald Bayne’s cross-examination of Mark Audcent, the retired Senate law clerk, extended well into the trial’s third day. Accounts from inside the courtroom suggest that Bayne is as thorough as they come. A case in point: He guided Audcent through a painstaking review of varying interpretations of “residence” in Canadian tax law and provincial statute in P.E.I. The goal, no matter how tedious the process to get there: prove there is no simple, generally accepted definition of the R-word across the land—or, at least, in the places relevant to this trial. Did Bayne succeed? We’d have to mine the brain of Justice Charles Vaillancourt to find out.

    Before the lunch recess, Bayne moved on to another of #duffytrial’s big, glaring, juicy questions: What counts as partisan activity? Duffy was a top-tier Tory fundraiser, he travelled the country extensively, and he claimed much of it counted Senate business. He’s taken heat for that jet-setting in the court of public opinion. But Bayne reminded the courtroom that the Senate Administrative Rules that govern Senators’ rights and privileges count partisan activities as “an inherent and essential part of the parliamentary functions of a Senator.”

    That important language is spelled out in Division 1, Chapter 1 of the administrative rules, under Principles of parliamentary life:


    Just one of the reams of rules, definitions and interpretations with which this trial will wrestle over the next months.

    —Nick Taylor-Vaisey

    Brazeau lends his support

    10:56 a.m.: Mike Duffy has a supportive former colleague literally behind him today. In the back of the courtroom sits suspended Sen. Patrick Brazeau, whose arrival with his lawyer this morning surprised everyone. According to the lawyer (and a flurry of activity on Twitter), Brazeau is there to show support for Duffy—and because there are similar issues between their cases. So far, no reported sightings of Pamela Wallin.

    —Sonya Bell

    Day Two: April 8

    Wherry on the Question of the Day: Is Mike Duffy eligible to represent P.E.I.?

    Sonya Bell’s Duffy Compass

    10:07 p.m.: The value of Mike Duffy’s PEI home (cottage) is up. Dimitri Soudas is down. Duffy’s not-guilty plea is behind us. That coveted first picture of Duffy’s (alleged) dog is still ahead. The rest of your daily navigational guide to the drama is right here.

    —Sonya Bell

    Kafka meets Frank Capra in Courtroom 33

    This is an excerpt of Nick Köhler’s sketch of Duffy’s second day in court.

    8:23 p.m.: Mark Audcent, who retired as law clerk to the Senate last year, is a man of indeterminate age—likely somewhere in his mid-to-late 60s, maybe older—but his comportment and his area of expertise speak very definitely of times past, or at least of his years in the changeless, stony atmosphere of Parliament’s Centre Block.

    At one point, while delivering testimony today in Ottawa’s Courtroom 33, where Sen. Mike Duffy is on trial for fraud, bribery and breach of trust, Audcent spoke of the days when senators traveled to Ottawa by buggy and rail, and at another time referred to “common socage”—arcane language once contained in our Constitution referring to feudal land tenure.

    There’s something genteel about Audcent and about the soft R’s of his speech, and his height and rambling gait make you think of Ray Bolger outside his scarecrow makeup in The Wizard of Oz.

    Therefore it was strange to consider that Audcent was the man who, by way of his role in an orientation meeting for the new senator in 2008, initiated Duffy into the world that would be his undoing—a world of “constitutional residency,” primary and secondary abodes, of disqualifications and vacancies.

    “It was,” as Audcent put it today of his chat with Duffy, “a stick-and-cabbage show.”

    —Nick Köhler

    Bayne makes the case for confusion

    6:43 p.m.: Mark Audcent took the stand as a Crown witness Wednesday, but by the time he’s done, the former Senate law clerk will have backed up a number of key arguments — for Mike Duffy’s defence.

    Audcent, who helped draft the first real set of Senate administrative rules a decade ago, figures he helped to break in around 100 new senators.

    During his cross-examination, defence lawyer Donald Bayne went painstakingly through the Constitution, the administrative rules Audcent had helped write, and other Senate policies that mention residency.

    He asked Audcent repeatedly to confirm there were no specific criteria in any of the statutes or rules that defined the meaning of “primary” or “secondary” residence.

    “There’s no requirement of a minimum number of days or nights spent in your provincial residence?” Bayne asked.

    “No,” Audcent replied.

    “There is no percentage of the year required in your provincial residence?”

    “That is correct.”

    “There is no majority of the year required for provincial residence?”

    “That’s correct.”

    Bayne referred to Duffy, a former Parliament Hill journalist, as a “rookie senator,” and took the court through a political letter that Duffy and fellow Conservative Pamela Wallin — living in Toronto, but appointed to represent Saskatchewan — had received shortly after their appointments.

    In it, Christopher McCreery, a former adviser in the office of government Senate leader Marjory LeBreton, insisted the pair had nothing to worry about regarding their residency status.

    —Jennifer Ditchburn and Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

    Duffy expensed before his official appointment

    5:09 p.m.: It was Dec. 22, 2008, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Mike Duffy would be appointed to the Senate.

    Mark Audcent, former law clerk of the Senate, testified that the very next day, Dec. 23, Duffy received the standard orientation briefing for new senators — an hour-long presentation from senior Senate staff about the rules and business of becoming a senator.

    Duffy got the briefing before he was actually a senator, Audcent said. The official date of his appointment was Jan. 2, 2009.

    That’s not all he got. Documents entered as evidence at the trial show Duffy claimed the per diem expense available to senators away from their provincial residence on Dec. 23, 28 and 29, getting $81.55 for each day. Between Dec. 29, 2008 and Jan. 4, 2009, he also billed the Senate for more than $4,300 so he and his wife could travel to Charlottetown.

    —Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

    Senators’ residences are complicated

    11:59 a.m.: Determining a senator’s place of residence can be complicated, the former law clerk of the Senate told the Mike Duffy trial.

    Mark Audcent said the factors involved in determining residence include where someone physically spent most of their time, where they got their government services, where they paid their taxes and where they did things like go to church or go bowling. “Every indicator is just part of a package, residence is a question of fact,” he said. “You gather these indicators together and you look at the whole picture. There is no indicator that is absolute.”

    Audcent noted that a senator’s actual qualifications for the job weren’t something he scrutinized, pointing out that by the time he sat down with them, they would have already have been deemed to qualify.

    —The Canadian Press

    Day One: April 7

    Mike Duffy talked for a living. On day one, he spoke six words.

    This is an excerpt of Nick Köhler’s sketch of Duffy’s first day in court.

    8:07 p.m.: Before we get into the arresting claims of puppy-buying trips to Peterborough made on the public dime.

    Before we get to talking about Nigel Wright’s evidently colourful way of labelling scandal—”our public agony,” “our Chinese water torture,” “our public bleeding.”

    Before that image the Crown planted in our brains of the senator from Prince Edward Island pumping on the pedals of a stationary bike.

    Before any of that, let’s start at the beginning, and deal with the way Sen. Mike Duffy’s trial began—with a 15-minute recital of 31 oddly lifeless criminal offences, from breach of trust to bribery to fraud, read out in the midst of court, that odd ritual called arraignment.

    —Nick Köhler

    The crown makes its case.

    4:14 p.m.: Attending a friend’s funeral. Taking a shopping trip to buy a puppy. Making sure he was on hand for the birth of his grandchild. There was nothing wrong with Mike Duffy doing any of those things — except for one major problem, the crown argued during the opening act of the year’s most eagerly awaited political legal drama. “He bills it back to the Senate,” deputy Crown attorney Mark Holmes said as he kicked off the case against Duffy.

    During the next 40 minutes, Holmes laid out why the prosecution believes Duffy is, in fact, guilty of defrauding the public purse by deliberately manipulating the financial policies of the Senate in order to charge taxpayers for personal business, or else simply hiding his activities from Senate scrutiny. “Apart from the policies, there is something more fundamental at play and I think it can be reduced to two propositions,” Holmes said. “One, you can’t steal from your employer; and two, you can’t abuse your position of authority to unjustly enrich yourself.”

    The Crown intends to prove, Holmes said, that in a number of instances where Duffy filed expenses on the grounds he was conducting Senate business, he was actually on a trip for personal reasons.

    —Stephanie Levitz and Jennifer Ditchburn, The Canadian Press

    The PM won’t testify

    3:02 p.m.: Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he won’t be called to testify at the Mike Duffy trial. The prime minister says he didn’t know  his former chief of staff Nigel Wright had paid Duffy $90,000 to cover the senator’s questioned housing expenses. Harper say investigators have looked at this and confirmed his position.

    The prime minister says he doesn’t believe he will be tied to the $90,000. “I had no knowledge of these things and will not be called as a witness,” he told a news conference in Vancouver. “We have offered the Crown every possible assistance in their case against Mr. Duffy and will continue to do so.”

    He said since the matter is now before the court, he will not comment further.

    —The Canadian Press

    Mike Duffy enters a plea

    11:28 a.m.: Suspended senator Mike Duffy formally pleaded not guilty to 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery. “I am not guilty, Your Honour,” Duffy told Ontario Justice Charles Vaillancourt.

    Duffy arrived at the courthouse shortly before 10 a.m., holding his tongue as reporters and cameras surrounded him and his lawyer Donald Bayne.”What we have to say we will say in the courtroom, period,” Bayne told the press.

    Vaillancourt, a 25-year veteran of the Ontario Court of Justice, entered the courtroom a few minutes before 11 a.m.

    —Jennifer Ditchburn, The Canadian Press

    Looking for more?

    Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.