Friday, April 29, 2016

Senator Mike Duffy cleared of all criminal charges

Ontario Court Justice Charles Vaillancourt cleared Senator Mike Duffy of all 31 criminal charges against him and criticized both the Prime Minister's Office under former PM Stephen Harper and also the RCMP.

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An article in the CBC by Neil MacDonald praises the judge's decision:
 Ontario Court Justice Charles Vaillancourt proved that in Canada, the courts are there to protect citizens against the venal machinations of those in high office, and the terrifying power of the police and prosecutors who answer to them.Not only did the judge drop all 31 charges, he described those charges as an abuse of power.
MacDonald is scathing in his remarks on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police(RCMP) who prosecuted Duffy. Instead of defending the law as their motto claims, saying they "genuflected to authority, using police discretion to toss a single newsworthy individual into the nightmare of the criminal system, essentially stealing two years of his life, while ignoring other senators who were doing just about exactly the same thing as Duffy." MacDonald notes that while Duffy was charged with taking a bribe there was no charge against the aide in the PMO who offered it in the first place. He claims the RCMP have been found wanting, if not negligent.
David Scott an Ottawa lawyer who years ago defended another individual from what was also a type of RCMP persecution, said: "I'm frankly proud of the way this turned out. It is completely unprofessional to have such an active animus at work in an investigation. The RCMP was lusting to do this [charge Duffy] because of the high-profile nature of the case. There was a hue and cry to 'get this creep. It's the power of authority. I have no doubt that this was a case of pleasing the masters."Harper had obviously decided that Duffy should be punished.
Nearly two years ago Assistant Commissioner of the RCMP Giles Michaud issued a long news release detailing the charges against Duffy and revealing the complex investigation officers made to expose the wrongdoing. When asked this Friday what Michaud had to say now, a junior officer said: "The RCMP respects the decision of the court. It would be inappropriate to comment further." When asked why it was inappropriate to comment now when the charges were made it was thought appropriate to advertise them the officer said that it would be inappropriate to comment.
Mike Duffy was a well-known TV personality before he was appointed by the Harper government to represent Prince Edward Island(PEI). Among the charges against him were that he said that his principal residence was in PEI so that he could claim expenses for his Ottawa residence: In 2012, Duffy has a vacation home on the island. Duffy was one of four senators accused of saying that their 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.While a senator, Duffy was a popular speaker for the Conservatives. In March of 2010 he criticized University of King's College and other Canadian journalism schools for teaching Noam Chomsky and critical thinking. He claimed that Canadian journalism schools were producing leftists who thought free enterprise was bad.
Harper decided that Senators should repay these claimed expanses. Duffy was unwilling since he thought it would be an admission that he had done something wrong. Duffy claimed that he had claimed the expenses after seeking advice on the matter. However, he gave in to the demands of the Harper administration providing he did not have to pay: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.
Duffy faced up to 14 years in prison if convicted of the most serious offences charges The defense and cross-examination of Duffy finished back on December 17th, after sixty days. The oral closing arguments were heard between Feb. 22 and March 4. The acquittal was on April 21.
Duffy has serious health problems suffering a heart attack in 1992. He needs drugs for heart disease, high blood pressure and osteoarthritis.