Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday April 22, 2016
Judge clears Mike Duffy of all charges
A judge in an Ottawa court has cleared Senator Mike Duffy of all 31 criminal charges and delivered a scathing indictment of the political operations of the office of former prime minister Stephen Harper.
He called the actions of the Prime Minister’s Office under Harper “mind-boggling and shocking.”
Justice Charles Vaillancourt said Harper’s former chief of staff Nigel Wright and other PMO staff executed operations with a precision that would make any military commander proud, all with the objective of containing political damage.
Duffy was another “piece on the chess board,” and the unwilling partner in a scheme to cover $90,000 in expenses, even though they were likely legitimate, Vaillancourt said.
“Could Hollywood match their creativity?” he asked.
Vaillancourt called the senator a “credible witness” and said the Crown failed to prove the case on any of the 31 charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust.
While some of the actions might be seen as “unorthodox,” they were not criminal, he ruled.
Duffy’s lawyer Donald Bayne said the “vindication” should cause those who rushed to judgment like a “political herd” to give serious thought about their actions.
“Political figures, public figures are also entitled to due process,” he said. “Senator Duffy has been subjected in the last two-and-a-half, three years to more public humiliation than probably any other Canadian in history,” he said.
Vaillancourt said Duffy’s travel claims had no financial or “sinister” motive and no “criminal intent,” the judge said.
He also concluded that payments made for third-party services funnelled through his friend Gerald Donohue to pay for editorial services, makeup and fitness training were “appropriate.” And he said there was no evidence of kickbacks or altered invoices. (Source: CBC News)
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