Mike Duffy

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For other people with the same name, see Michael Duffy (disambiguation).
The Honourable
Michael Duffy
Mike Duffy.jpg
Senator from Prince Edward Island
Assumed office
January 2, 2009
Appointed by Stephen Harper
Personal details
Born Michael Dennis Duffy
(1946-05-27) May 27, 1946 (age 70)
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Political party Independent (2013-present)
Other political
Conservative (2009-2013)
Spouse(s) Nancy (div. 1979)
Heather (1992-present)[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, amid scandal,[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 two years. With the early call of the election on August 2, 2015, by Prime Minister Harper, Senators Brazeau, Duffy and Wallin recommenced receiving their salaries and benefits.[3] On July 17, 2014 he was charged with 31 criminal offenses including fraud, breach of trust and bribery.[4] On April 21, 2016 he was acquitted of all 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery.[5][6]

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.[7]

Duffy was a high school dropout[8] and briefly studied humanities at St. Dunstan’s College.[7] 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.

In the 1990s, Duffy sued Frank magazine for defamation. Duffy claimed that the magazine's satirical attacks against him cost him the Order of Canada.[9][10]

Bias in 2008 federal election[edit]

In 2008, a panel of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled that Duffy had violated broadcasting codes and ethics during the 2008 federal election. The panel concluded that Duffy's decision to air "false starts" of an interview with then-Liberal leader Stéphane Dion "was not fair, balanced, or even handed" and that during the same broadcast, Duffy "significantly misrepresented the view of one of the three members of his Panel... Liberal MP Geoff Regan".[11]

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.[12] In 1994, Duffy was inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.[12][13]

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.[14] 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.[14]

In 2002, he was awarded the Golden Jubilee Medal by the Governor General of Canada on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II.[15]

Political ambitions[edit]

Mike Duffy wanted to be appointed to the Senate of Canada and pursued former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in the corridors of House of Commons of Canada. According to Liberal Chief of staff Eddie Goldenberg, Jean Chrétien “once told me that every time Mike saw him in the corridor he’d yell out, ‘prime minister, I’m ready! I’m ready!”.[16]

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.[14][17] He subsequently retired as a TV journalist at the end of 2008. He was introduced to Senate, along with, among 17 others, Pamela Wallin, Patrick Brazeau and Irving Gerstein, by Marjory LeBreton, then Leader of the Government in Senate, on 26 January 2009 immediately prior to the Speech from the Throne.[18]

In March 2010, Duffy criticized the University of King's College and other journalism schools in Canada for teaching Noam Chomsky and critical thinking. He went on to say that journalism schools in Canada were churning out leftists who thought private enterprise was bad. The head of King's School of Journalism reacted with surprise to Duffy's criticism, saying that Manufacturing Consent was not part of the curriculum. She also said she would not apologize for teaching critical thinking to journalism students.[19] A number of editorial comments were written in response to Duffy's criticism.[20][21]

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 work in Ottawa.[22][23] Duffy, who has lived and worked in Ottawa for decades, has claimed his primary residence is in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island and claimed $42,802 in living expenses for the national capital region from November 30, 2010, to November 30, 2012.[24] Duffy may have also claimed $40,333 in the two years after his Senate appointment in December 2008.[25] When the Senate Standing Committee on Internal Economy was investigating the expense claims they requested health cards and other evidence of residency outside Ottawa; Duffy then applied for a PEI health card and asked for the card to be fast tracked in time for the audit deadline.[26] Duffy has used his Ontario Health Card since 2009 when he was appointed to the Senate.[27] People living near Duffy's PEI cottage say he is seldom seen there. Cavendish resident Morgan Eisenhaur said "We've never seen Mike Duffy, he should show some leadership on this. He should have known better."[28]

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.[29]

PMO involvement[edit]

After several weeks of negative public attention Duffy volunteered to pay back the expenses he had claimed for his Ottawa residence, blaming what he called the Senate's unclear rules and forms for the affair saying, "We are going to pay it back, and until the rules are clear—and they're not clear now, the forms are not clear, and I hope the Senate will redo the forms to make them clear—I will not claim the housing allowance."[30][31]

Duffy had expected the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to cover all expenses he claimed improperly.[32] 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.[33] Perrin denied involvement in a May 2013 statement.[34][35] 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.[36] 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."[37][38]

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.[37] Duffy resigned from the Conservative caucus on May 16, 2013, and became an independent senator.[39] On November 5, 2013 the Senate voted to suspend Duffy without pay for two years.[3]

RCMP investigation[edit]

In late May 2013 a report heard by the Senate Committee on the Internal Economy acknowledged Duffy had a pattern of spending that required Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) investigation. When campaigning for Conservative candidates during the 2011 general election Duffy claimed Senate expenses, which is not allowed by Senate expense rules. While on vacation in PEI during August 2012 Duffy claimed per diem expenses although he was not on senate business. Previous expenses Duffy claimed while on vacation in Florida had been repaid; Duffy issued a statement saying a temporary worker had made a mistake filling out the forms. Although the Florida vacation funds were repaid the committee acknowledged the claim was "not an isolated incident, but represents a pattern that raises concerns."[40]

Criminal charges[edit]

On July 17, 2014 Duffy was charged by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with 31 offences.[41] 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 inappropriately as a senator. Eighteen of the charges were laid in relation to $50,000 in personal and partisan 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.[42] The bribery charge is in relation to the $90,000 he received from Nigel Wright, Stephen Harper's then chief of staff. The trial on the 31 charges began on April 7, 2015.[43][44]

Ontario Justice Charles Vaillancourt adjourned the trial on August 25, 2015. After the hiatus, he resumed hearing the Crown's case on November 19, 2015. At that time, Duffy remained on a paid leave of absence from the Senate of Canada pending the outcome of the charges.[45]

After the Crown wrapped up its evidence, the defence began presenting its case, with Duffy taking the stand, and relating specifics about his career.[46]

Subsequently, on 9 December 2015, Duffy stated that he had been "instructed, not encouraged" by Conservative Senator David Tkachuk to file living expense claims in Ottawa to ensure that he was viewed as qualified to be a Senator from Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) on the basis that his summer cottage was his primary residence. This is one of the primary issues in the trial since Duffy had claimed and received $80,000 in expenses including travel to and from P.E.I. and living expense in Ottawa, on the basis of being a resident of P.E.I.[47] Duffy also testified that Tkachuk advised him to claim expenses even for partisan travel (not official Senate business but on behalf of the Conservative party). Tkachuk denied these allegations, stating that he was not the chair of the Senate’s Internal Economy committee until 2010 while Duffy had been sworn into the Senate in January 2009.[48]

Duffy insisted during his testimony on 14–15 December that he rejected the plan provided by the Prime Minister's Office to repay the allowance payment he had received after the Senate determined that Ottawa was not his primary residence.[49] He testified that he resisted because he felt it would be an admission of guilt, and claimed to Nigel Wright that he did not have the finances to make an $80,000+ payment.[50] Eventually he felt forced[51] to accept the $90,000 to dampen the controversy, even though Harper allegedly told him that it was "unfair"[50] and that he had not broken any rules.[52] During the trial, Duffy said he was under the assumption that it had been provided by the Conservative party. However, he had told the Senate that Wright told him that he would personally write a cheque.[53]

The $90,000 was used to repay the $80,000 in travel and living expenses that he had claimed, plus interest,[54] after the Senate established that his permanent address was not in Prince Edward Island.[55] During the trial, Duffy admitted to filing Ontario income tax and retaining his Ontario health card and listing his Ontario address on a passport application in 2012.[53]

About the allegation that Duffy wrongfully claimed over $9,000 from the Senate for a fitness instructor, Mike Croskery, Duffy testified that Croskery was working as a consultant on a Senate-related project on fitness for seniors and that he (Duffy) received minimal fitness benefits during the pertinent three years.[49] In earlier testimony however, Croskery said he never prepared any document or other work product for the Senate.[56]

He also testified that he had used the poor practices recommended by others, or followed the orders of others, when filing his expense claims, and that he expected the Sentate to audit his expense claims to ensure they were properly filed.[53]

Duffy faced up to 14 years in prison if convicted of the most serious offences.[55] He had pleaded not guilty to all 31 charges. The defense (by lawyer Donald Bayne) and the cross-examination of Duffy were completed on 17 December (day 60); no other defence witnesses were called.[53] Oral closing arguments were heard between 22 February and 4 March 2016[57]


On 21 April 2016, Duffy was acquitted of all 31 charges.

Personal life[edit]

Legal charges[edit]

Duffy had legal charges prior to the senate expense scandal. In 1990 he pleaded guilty to a charge of impaired driving.[8] He also lost a Tax Court case over more than $27,000 he attempted to claim as business expenses.[8]


Duffy divorced his first wife in 1979, with whom he had two children (Gavin and Miranda, the former now an RCMP Constable in Squamish, BC).[58] He married his second wife, Heather Collins, in 1992.[8]

In July 2014 a Peruvian woman named Karen Duffy claimed to be Mike Duffy's daughter.[59] She alleged that Mike Duffy had an affair with her mother, Yvette Benites Ruiz, a convicted drug mule who served prison time in Kingston, Ontario and at a halfway house in Ottawa.[59] Ruiz allegedly met Mike Duffy through his sister who was also serving time.[60]

After years of unsuccessfully attempting to contact Mike Duffy, Karen Duffy filed a suit in Peruvian court seeking to have him recognized as her father.[59] Later on July 20, 2014, Karen Duffy appeared on Punto Final, a weekly current affairs program on the Peruvian Frecuencia Latina network in a segment titled "Mi Padre El Senador" (which translates to "My Father the Senator" in English).[61] She told the program she still hopes the suspended senator will respond to the lawsuit she filed seeking his recognition.[62] Initially Mike Duffy claimed that these allegations were false.[59]

A week after making this denial Mike Duffy reached out to Karen Duffy on Facebook.[63] Yvette Benites Ruiz told Toronto Sun that Mike Duffy has acknowledged Karen Duffy's paternity claim and that he is talking to his daughter daily.[60] When asked to respond to this claim Mike Duffy only told QMI Agency "leave it alone. This is a good thing."[60]


Duffy was diagnosed with diabetes in 1989.[8] In 1992 he had a mild heart attack. He had bypass surgery twice, in 2007 and in 2013.[8] In November 2014, his lawyer expressed concern as to whether Duffy would be well enough to “physically and mentally” endure what was expected to be a gruelling criminal trial expected to start on April 7, 2015.[64] In fact, Duffy was able to attend the trial during April to August 2015 and was in the court when it re-convened on November 19, 2015.[65]

During testimony at the criminal trial on 8 December 2015, Duffy related his health problems, including a heart attack in 1992 and the need for drugs for heart disease, high blood pressure and osteoarthritis over the past 14 or 15 years.[66]


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  4. ^ Campion-Smith, Bruce (17 July 2014). "RCMP lay 31 criminal charges against Senator Mike Duffy". thestar.com. Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  5. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/mike-duffy-trial-live-blog-63-1.3545326
  6. ^ https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2809019-April-21-Duffy-ruling.html
  7. ^ a b http://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/king-of-the-hill/
  8. ^ a b c d e f ‘A desire to be somebody’: Mike Duffy’s rise from high school dropout to ‘the Old Duff’ of Ottawa’s power elite | National Post
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  11. ^ National Specialty Services Panel (April 6, 2009). "CBSC Decisions". CBSC. Retrieved September 9, 2010. 
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  13. ^ "CAB Hall of Fame Awards". Canadian Association of Broadcasters. Archived from the original on October 25, 2008. 
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  15. ^ "Find a Recipient". Governor General of Canada. Retrieved December 5, 2013. 
  16. ^ Was Mike Duffy ethically challenged before his Senate job?
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  18. ^ Debates of the Senate (Hansard) 2nd Session, 40th Parliament, Volume 146, Issue 1 Monday, January 26, 2009
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  30. ^ Payton, Laura (February 22, 2013). "Mike Duffy to repay expenses claimed for Ottawa home". CBC News. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
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  33. ^ Janus, Andrea (May 20, 2013). "PM's former legal adviser arranged deal for Wright to give Duffy $90K". CTV News. Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  34. ^ Woodford, Shane (May 21, 2013). "UBC Law Professor says media story 'false'". Vancouver, BC: CKNW. Retrieved May 22, 2013. 
  35. ^ Uechi, Jenny (May 21, 2013). "Benjamin Perrin says story about involvement in Duffy money transfer deal was 'false'". Vancouver Observer. Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
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  40. ^ CBC News (2013). "Mike Duffy expense claims sent to RCMP by Senate committee - Politics -". cbc.ca. CBC News. Retrieved May 29, 2013. 'not an isolated incident, but represents a pattern that raises concerns.' 
  41. ^ "Mike Duffy charges: Read RCMP statement and details of 31 counts". CBC News. CBC/Radio Canada. July 17, 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2015. 
  42. ^ 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. 
  43. ^ Payton, Laura (4 January 2015). "Mike Duffy, Dean Del Mastro and other political figures go to court in 2015". CBC News. 
  44. ^ Zilio, Michelle (4 January 2015). "From court battles to an election, what to expect in Canadian politics in 2015". CTV News. 
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  46. ^ Ditchburn, Jennifer (19 November 2015). "Senator Mike Duffy to star in the last chapter of his long trial". CBC News. CBC/Radio-Canada. Retrieved 19 November 2015. 
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  48. ^ no by-line.--> (9 December 2015). "Never told Duffy to claim Ottawa living expenses: Sen. David Tkachuk". Global News. Shaw Media Inc. Retrieved 10 December 2015. 
  49. ^ a b Gollom, Mark (14 December 2015). "Mike Duffy says he resisted PMO plan for housing expense repayment 'at every opportunity'". CBC News. CBC/Radio Canada. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
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  54. ^ MacCharles, Tonda (9 December 2015). "Mike Duffy denies any wrongdoing, bad faith, or misunderstanding of Senate rules". Toronto Star (Toronto, Canada). 
  55. ^ a b Mike Duffy charged Senate to attend personal funerals, RCMP say - Politics - CBC News
  56. ^ Reevely, David (14 December 2015). "Reevely: Mike Duffy dreamed of a national fitness scheme, he says". Ottawa Citizen (Ottawa, Canada). Retrieved 15 December 2015. 
  57. ^ Canadian Press. "Closing arguments in Duffy trial to begin in February". Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario). Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  58. ^ Gatehouse, Jonathon (23 October 2013). "Must-read #longreads: Senator Mike Duffy, king of the Hill". macleans.ca. Rogers Media. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  59. ^ a b c d Jonathon Gatehouse; Melinda Maldonado (July 15, 2014). "Woman claims to be Mike Duffy’s unacknowledged child". Macleans.ca. 
  60. ^ a b c Mark Dunn (July 23, 2014). "Mike Duffy acknowledged Peruvian woman's paternity claim, says mom". Toronto Sun. (subscription required (help)). 
  61. ^ Melinda Maldonado (July 21, 2014). "Karen Duffy tells her story on Peruvian TV". Macleans.ca. 
  62. ^ "Empresaria peruana busca que senador canadiense la reconozca como hija" [Peruvian businesswoman seeks to recognize Canadian senator like daughter]. Frecuencia Latina (in Spanish). 20 July 2014. 
  63. ^ Jonathon Gatehouse (July 22, 2014). "Peruvian woman says she's heard from Mike Duffy". Macleans.ca. 
  64. ^ Johnson, Kelsey (14 November 2014). "Duffy’s health remains an ‘ongoing concern’: lawyer". iPolitics.ca. iPolitics. Retrieved 19 November 2015. 
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  66. ^ MacCharles, Tonda (8 December 2015). "Mike Duffy holds court as he takes stand in his own defence". Toronto Star (Toronto, Canada). Retrieved 10 December 2015. 

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