Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Smoking Gun, What Smoking Gun?

(Your Punchline Here)

The oh so Conservative Senate is trying to prevent the audit into senators' residency qualifications from being exposed in court in the Duffy bribery/corruption trial.

What's that?  There are more Mike Duffy's in the Senate?  Perhaps even including the Harper henchwoman sent to tar and feather Duffy and drive him out of the Red Chamber?

Duffy's lawyer Donald Bayne and Crown prosecutor Mark Holmes briefly discussed the fact that a lawyer for the Senate is claiming parliamentary privilege to keep the audit from becoming public.

Neither Bayne nor the Crown have seen the audit, but it was referred to during a 2013 police interview with Gary O'Brien, who was then clerk of the Senate.

"Before Christmas 2012, the internal economy committee requested that senators provide four specific documents to support their residency locations," reads the report of the interview.

"Using those indicators, an internal audit would be done by (administrator) Jill Anne Joseph, on all senators."

In February 2013, the committee put out a brief report saying that only two additional senators initially raised flags during the audit — Liberal Sen. Rod Zimmer and Conservative Sen. Dennis Patterson.

"Both explained to the complete satisfaction of the interviewers that their travel claims were in order," the report said.

Now, what if someone steering that very internal economy committee, the same individual already identified as one of two Conservative senators who initially intervened to launder the Duffy expenses audit on instructions from the PMO, was actually in the very same position as Duffy, if not worse, on the residency issue?  

Would the honourable senator from New Brunswick please stand up?

Canadian Press scribe, Jennifer Ditchburn, observes how a certain Carolyn Stewart Olsen's name keeps popping up in the trial.

[Duffy's lawyer, Don] Bayne repeatedly made reference to Conservative Sen. Carolyn Stewart Olsen. After her appointment in 2009, she, too, filed expense claims for an Ottawa home she already lived in.

Duffy found himself charged with fraud and breach of trust, while Stewart Olsen's expenses never seemed to raise an eyebrow inside the Senate.

As an added wrinkle, Stewart Olsen sat on the secretive Senate committee that reviewed Duffy's expenses and collaborated with the Prime Minister's Office on altering its final report in 2013. She was a former senior aide to Stephen Harper.

Duffy and Stewart Olsen were well-established figures in Ottawa before they were appointed by Harper to represent Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, respectively.

"You know that Sen. Stewart Olsen claimed this national capital living expense from the time of her appointment?" Bayne asked top Senate finance official Nicole Proulx.

"All I can say is if senators provided a form and said their primary residence was more than 100 km [away] and they incurred additional living expenses while in the [national capital region] and they had the proper documentation, then finance would have provided the budget," Proulx responded.

When the Senate expense scandal was unfolding in 2013, Stewart Olsen told The Canadian Press in an interview that she had always planned on living in New Brunswick, but she couldn't immediately sell the home in Ottawa.

Duffy also had work to complete on a cottage in Cavendish, P.E.I., where he says he spent $100,000 in upgrades over the years.

Internal emails filed in court show that Stewart Olsen worked closely with officials from the PMO in early 2013 to delete any overly negative assessments of Duffy's living expenses from a committee report.


Toby said...

Duffy's behaviour in the Senate may be a bit extreme but he is by no means alone. Remember Andy Thompson who claimed that he couldn't attend because he lived in Mexico but continued to draw his salary? The Senate has long been a refuge for political bag men and other ne'er–do–wells, probably because they know where the bodies are buried.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yes, indeedy. Always bear in mind that this entire fiasco - the public scandal, the expulsion from the Senate, the investigation and the trial - it all was sparked by one unfortunate e-mail that Duffy sent to his supposed confidantes that wound up getting leaked to CTV. This was supposed to be a problem that was to go away. That is why it was constructed on the terms dictated by the PMO. When the impugned deal was put in place it was in contemplation of Duffy remaining a bagman in good standing for the Conservative Party.

Anonymous said...

Whoops! It looks like Stevie-Jay's wet-nurse has been thrown into the diaper hamper.