By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday July 19, 2014
RCMP lay 31 criminal charges against Senator Mike Duffy
Mike Duffy’s fall from grace took another stunning tumble Thursday as Mounties charged the suspended senator with 31 counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery in connection with the alleged misuse of taxpayers’ funds.
The charges set the stage for a dramatic trial involving a high-profile witness list that could include Nigel Wright, the former top aide to Stephen Harper, Conservative senators and perhaps even the prime minister.
At the very least, the long list of criminal charges laid against the former Conservative senator will be an ongoing political headache for Harper in the run-up to the 2015 election. Duffy is due in court on Sept. 16, a day after Parliament is due to resume sitting following the summer break.
Months of investigation ended with the news that the former television journalist was facing a raft of criminal allegations of bribery, kickbacks and defrauding Canadian taxpayers — all related to his time as a senator.
“Investigators followed numerous leads and today’s charges are the result of a careful examination of the facts,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud told reporters at an Ottawa news conference.
In an unexpected development, the RCMP not only charged Duffy with fraud and breach of trust but added a charge of bribery in connection with the $90,000 cheque that Wright, Harper’s former chief of staff, wrote for Duffy to pay the senator’s questionable expense claims.
Questions about the $90,000 cheque have swirled around Wright and Harper, who has said he knew nothing about Wright’s decision to pay Duffy. Wright, who quit the PMO after it became known that he had written the cheque, had also been investigated by the RCMP. But police recently concluded there were no grounds to charge Wright.
Yet Duffy lawyer Donald Bayne questioned how Harper’s top aide could escape charges while the senator is now facing criminal accusations.
“I am sure that I am not the only Canadian who will now wonder openly, how what was not a crime or bribe when Nigel Wright paid it on his own initiative, became however mysteriously, a crime or bribe when received by Sen. Duffy,” Bayne said in a statement released late Wednesday.
“The evidence will show, that Sen. Duffy did not want to participate in Nigel Wright’s and the PMO’s repayment scenario, which they concocted for purely political purposes,” Bayne said. (Source: Toronto Star)
Illustrates a column in the Regina Leader-Post, July 22 2014 by Murray Mandryk “Duffy fallout may extend to Saskatchewan”.
Published in the Montreal Gazette, July 22 2014.