Thursday, December 17, 2015
The Wheels of Justice Groan and Creak in the Duffy Trial
The problem with "political trials" is that they're show trials, staged events. That means the players have to go through the motions even if their hearts aren't into it.
This is about Duffy, Senator Marooned, the Cavendish Cottager.
Even former Globe luminary, Geoffrey Stevens, was calling it a "show trial" that had lost all purpose and meaning after the ouster of Shifty Steve in the last federal election. Stevens argued that Harper no longer needed the political smokescreen and the whole thing should be shut down.
Me? I wasn't so sure and thought it might be best to wait until the Crown had at Duffy on cross-examination. Now, with the reservation that news accounts of trial proceedings are hopelessly inaccurate, misleading and often biased, I scoured every print story I could find about Duffy's ordeal at the hands of the prosecutor - only to emerge with just one question, a resounding "WTF"?
The questioning seemed inane, pointless. There was no slashing attack, no rapier thrust, none of that. It was the prosecutorial equivalent of erectile dysfunction or at least so it seemed to me from parsing Kady and Christie and the rest of those miserable scribes.
How could this be? This trial has gone on longer than it took Noah to hammer together that Ark thingee and yet here was the Crown dwelling on irrelevancies such as Duffy's smear job of Stephane Dion. That's got bugger all to do with these charges - nada, zip, zilch.
Urgent phone call to Ottawa to an old buddy who has sat in on most of the proceedings. A veteran lawyer and former judge. Turns out he was there for the cross-examination. I popped the question.
Old Friend volunteered that he spent a good deal of time observing the prosecutor's body language (it's a 'judge thing') and, to him, it seemed to confirm what he was hearing - the Crown is padding, marking time. It's filler. You can't go this long without at least putting in a couple of days, maybe three, of cross-examination lest people start talking about what was really going on. So you fling out a few things to give the scribblers something to file, to keep them distracted, and then you close.
Now Old Friend added that other Crown attorneys had mentioned that Duffy's prosecutor didn't like this case from the get-go. They all had the sense that this was a show trial orchestrated from Parliament Hill, A-Division and some accommodating folks at Queen's Park. The Crown is like a WWI infantry captain in the trenches. When the whistle blows it's up the ladder and over the top.
The Crown called the obligatory witnesses and Duffy's lawyer, sitting behind his Maxim gun, mowed'em down.
Old Friend also mentioned conversations he's had in recent months with some senior RCMP types who are fuming at the way their current commish, Bob Paulson, allowed his strings to be pulled by Harper's minions. With Ralph Goodale now at the helm as public safety minister, watch for Paulson to get the hook real soon.
Old Friend says it's all over, everyone including the judge is utterly exhausted with this nonsense. He says it's conceivable Duffy could be found guilty on two or three of the really minor charges but, then again, so could most of his fellow senators.
I asked whether the Crown might be holding something up his sleeve - rebuttal witnesses such as senators LeBreton, Tkachuk and Stewart-Olsen to refute Duffy's otherwise uncontradicted evidence? Old Friend says the Crown knows what Don Bayne has waiting for those jokers if they ever get on the stand and at this point nobody wants to have to clean up the blood.