Mike Duffy

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The Honourable
Mike Duffy
Mike Duffy.jpg
Senator from Prince Edward Island
Assumed office
January 2, 2009
Nominated by Stephen Harper
Appointed by Michaëlle Jean
Personal details
Born Michael Dennis Duffy
(1946-05-27) May 27, 1946 (age 70)
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Political party Independent Senators Group
Other political

Non-affiliated (2013-2016)

Conservative (2009-2013)
Spouse(s) Nancy Duffy (divorced)
Heather Duffy (m. 1992)[1]
Profession Television journalist

Michael Dennis "Mike" Duffy (born May 27, 1946) is a Canadian senator and former Canadian television journalist. Prior to his appointment to the upper house in 2008, he was the Ottawa editor for CTV News Channel. After resigning from the Conservative caucus on May 16, 2013 during a controversy over the expense claims filed by him and other Senators,[2] Duffy sat in the Senate as an independent, representing Prince Edward Island, until the Senate voted on November 5, 2013, to suspend him without pay for the remainder of the term. On April 21, 2016 he was acquitted of all 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery laid against him, by a judge who sharply rebuked the police and Crown for pursuing the charges.[3]

Early life and journalism career[edit]

Mike Duffy was born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island to Lillian and Wilfrid Duffy, and is the grandson of Gavan Duffy, a PEI Liberal MLA and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island.[4]

Duffy briefly studied humanities at St. Dunstan's College.[4] He became a ham radio operator at the age of 16. He began his career as a teen disc jockey at CFCY-TV in the mid-1960s. He moved to print journalism with The Guardian in Charlottetown, before heading to CFCF in Montreal as a lineup and assignment editor in 1969, and in 1971 he joined CFRA radio in Ottawa as a political reporter.

Duffy joined CBC radio's Parliament Hill bureau in 1974, and became a reporter for The National in 1977. Duffy became the lead CBC television reporter on Parliament Hill and covered most of the important federal stories of the Trudeau, Clark and Mulroney governments. Duffy is primarily known for his work as an Ottawa journalist, but he has been a foreign correspondent. He covered the fall of South Vietnam in April 1975 for the CBC and was one of the last journalists to leave Saigon before the arrival of North Vietnamese troops and Viet Cong insurgents.[citation needed]

In 1988, Duffy joined Baton Broadcasting as the first host of its Sunday morning news program Sunday Edition based in Ottawa. When that series ended in 1999, Duffy moved to his role as a show host and interviewer with CTV Newsnet (now the CTV News Channel). Long known as an "Ottawa insider", he was able to get many elected officials to appear on his programs. Duffy hosted two programs on CTV Newsnet, Countdown with Mike Duffy and Mike Duffy Live. The latter program was broadcast from Parliament Hill and featured interviews with prominent Canadian political figures and commentators. Upon Duffy's departure for the Senate, CTV Newsnet temporarily renamed the program On the Hill and installed Graham Richardson as the host. On the Hill ran for one month before being permanently replaced with Power Play.

2008 federal election broadcast controversy[edit]

In 2008 split decision, a panel of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled that CTV Newsnet had violated broadcasting codes during the 2008 federal election. The panel concluded that CTV Newsnet's decision to air, on Duffy's network show "false starts" of an interview with then-Liberal leader Stéphane Dion recorded by CTV's Halifax affiliate "was not fair, balanced, or even handed."[5]

Awards and honours[edit]

In 1986 he won an ACTRA Award for live television reporting, for his coverage of the 1985 Turkish embassy attack in Ottawa by the Armenian Revolutionary Army.[6] In 1994, Duffy was inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.[6][7]

Duffy has received honorary degrees from the University of Prince Edward Island, as well as Wilfrid Laurier University and from Niagara University in Niagara Falls, New York.[8] He has been a visiting fellow at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina, and has been twice nominated for the "best in the business" award by the Washington Journalism Review.[8]

In 2002, he was awarded the Golden Jubilee Medal by the Governor General of Canada on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II.[9]

Political career[edit]

On December 22, 2008, Duffy was named a Prince Edward Island representative to the Senate on the advice of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, sitting as a Conservative.[8][10] He subsequently retired as a TV journalist at the end of 2008. He was introduced to the Senate on 26 January 2009 immediately prior to the Speech from the Throne.[11]

Expenses controversy[edit]

In 2012, Duffy was one of four senators accused of claiming primary residency outside of Ottawa in order to claim living expenses for time working in Ottawa.[12] In his trial decision, Judge Vaillancourt said Duffy had no choice in the matter, as he had been appointed to represent Prince Edward Island in the Senate[3] On February 28, 2013, the Senate Committee on the Internal Economy announced that Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Mac Harb, and Patrick Brazeau would be subject to a forensic audit to determine appropriateness of their expense claims.[13]

PMO involvement[edit]

After several weeks of negative public attention Duffy, despite believing he was entitled to claim the PEI residence,[3] volunteered to pay back the expenses he had claimed for his Ottawa residence. Duffy had expected the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to cover all expenses he claimed improperly.[14] In late February 2013, it was alleged that special counsel and legal adviser Benjamin Perrin drafted a letter of understanding between Chief of Staff of the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada, Nigel Wright and Duffy.[15] Perrin denied involvement in a May 2013 statement.[16][17] Wright then wrote a personal cheque to Duffy for $90,172 to cover past residency expenses claimed as part of the agreement with the PMO. A Conservative Party spokesman confirmed the money was a gift with no expectation of repayment.[18] Duffy then repaid the Government of Canada $90,172 in March 2013 for expenses previously claimed.

After repayment Duffy refused to meet with independent auditors or supply financial records, credit card statements and information about his calendar related to the investigation. Duffy's lawyer claimed that since the money had been reimbursed "Senator Duffy's participation in the review of the requested information was no longer needed."[19][20]

Reaction to expense controversy[edit]

In May 2013, the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner of Canada confirmed it was investigating Wright's gift of $90,172 to Duffy.[19] Duffy resigned from the Conservative caucus on May 16, 2013, and became an independent senator.[21] On November 5, 2013 the Senate voted to suspend Duffy without pay for two years.[22]

Criminal charges[edit]

On July 17, 2014 Duffy was charged by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with 31 offences.[23] These included fraud, breach of trust and bribery. He was charged with fraud and breach of trust in relation to $80,000 in expenses that he claimed as a senator. Eighteen of the charges were laid in relation to $50,000 in travel expenses which Duffy claimed as a senator. A further eight of the charges of fraud and breach of trust were laid in relation to the alleged misuse of $60,000 in public funds for consulting contracts.[24] The bribery charge was in relation to the $90,000 he received from Nigel Wright, Stephen Harper's then chief of staff. The trial began on April 7, 2015. Duffy was acquitted of all charges on 21 April 2016 and immediately resumed his seat in the Senate.[3]


  1. ^ Prime Minister Stephen Harper appoints Mike Duffy to the Senate of Canada on YouTube
  2. ^ "Senator Mike Duffy quits Tory caucus". CBC News. May 16, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d http://www.canlii.org/en/on/oncj/doc/2016/2016oncj220/2016oncj220.html?searchUrlHash=AAAAAQAKTWlrZSBEdWZmeQAAAAAB&resultIndex=1
  4. ^ a b "Must-read #longreads: Senator Mike Duffy, king of the Hill - Macleans.ca". October 23, 2013. Retrieved May 19, 2017. 
  5. ^ http://www.cbsc.ca/ctv-newsnet-re-an-episode-of-mike-duffy-live-prime-time-stephane-dion-interview/
  6. ^ a b "Canadian Communications Foundation: Biographies–Duffy, Michael D.". Canadian Communications Foundation. Retrieved July 31, 2009. 
  7. ^ "CAB Hall of Fame Awards". Canadian Association of Broadcasters. Archived from the original on October 25, 2008. 
  8. ^ a b c "Backgrounder - List of new Senators" (Press release). Office of the Prime Minister. December 22, 2008. Retrieved July 31, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Find a Recipient". Governor General of Canada. Retrieved December 5, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Prime minister fills 18 vacant Senate seats". CTV News. December 22, 2008. Retrieved December 22, 2008. 
  11. ^ Canada, Senate of. "Senate of Canada - Debates". Senate of Canada. Retrieved May 19, 2017. 
  12. ^ Payton, Laura (February 4, 2013). "P.E.I. Senator Mike Duffy under fire for living expenses". CBC News. Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  13. ^ Payton, Laura (February 28, 2013). "Senator Mike Duffy declared eligible for P.E.I. seat: 4 senators subject to further spending audit as probe wraps". CBC News. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Mike Duffy made secret deal with Harper's chief of staff during audit". CTV News. May 15, 2013. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  15. ^ Janus, Andrea (May 20, 2013). "PM's former legal adviser arranged deal for Wright to give Duffy $90K". CTV News. Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  16. ^ Woodford, Shane (May 21, 2013). "UBC Law Professor says media story 'false'". Vancouver, BC: CKNW. Retrieved May 22, 2013. 
  17. ^ Uechi, Jenny (May 21, 2013). "Benjamin Perrin says story about involvement in Duffy money transfer deal was 'false'". Vancouver Observer. Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  18. ^ Fitzpatrick, Meagan; MacKinnon, Leslie (May 15, 2013). "PM's chief of staff paid off Mike Duffy's Senate expenses". CBC News. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  19. ^ a b Campion-Smith, Bruce (May 15, 2013). "Senate expenses: Ethics watchdog reviewing $90,000 payment to Mike Duffy". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  20. ^ "What we know about Mike Duffy and the $90,172 repayment". Maclean's. Canadian Press. May 16, 2013. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Sen. Mike Duffy quits Conservative caucus over expenses". CityNews. Toronto. May 17, 2013. 
  22. ^ Jordan Press; Andrea Hill (November 6, 2013). "Senate warns others about expenses as it votes to suspend Wallin, Duffy and Brazeau (with video)". Edmonton Journal. Archived from the original on Dec 28, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Mike Duffy charges: Read RCMP statement and details of 31 counts". CBC News. CBC/Radio Canada. July 17, 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2015. 
  24. ^ Campion-Smith, Bruce (18 July 2014). "RCMP lay 31 criminal charges against Senator Mike Duffy". Toronto Star. Toronto Star. Ottawa Bureau. Retrieved 18 July 2014. 

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