POLITICS

Duffy Trial On Pause As Crown, Defence Argue Over Evidence

05/05/2015 04:10 EDT | Updated 05/04/2016 05:12 EDT
OTTAWA - From stultifying case law to grey-coated canines. It was that kind of day at the trial of Senator Mike Duffy.

The Crown and defence lawyers wrapped up a lengthy procedural detour on Tuesday, during which they made their best arguments for why a particular Senate committee report should or should not be entered into evidence.

Justice Charles Vaillancourt heard about cases that went as far back at the 18th century, and one involving an Ontario miner who used to be in the Finnish army. In a nutshell, the defence would like the Senate report, which is based on internal audits by the firm Ernst & Young, considered as fact by the judge.

The Crown disagrees, arguing it's just opinion or hearsay.

Vaillancourt says he'll make a decision and get back to the court on that front in June.

From there, the trial swung into absurd territory, as dog show organizer Louise Lang testified via telephone from Toronto.

What does the secretary of the Kerry Blue Terrier Club of Canada have to do with the Duffy trial?

Duffy billed the Senate for $698.58 in travel expenses for a trip to Peterborough, Ont. in July 2010, where he says he met with MP Dean Del Mastro and his wife — what he called on official forms "meet local officials on broadcasting issues."

That travel resulted in one charge each of fraud and breach of trust. He faces 31 charges in total, and has pleaded not guilty.

Duffy also went to the Kawartha Kennel Dog Show during that Peterborough trip, and the Crown has alleged he and his wife purchased a dog there — a kerry blue terrier to be exact.

"I was running around as normal, going to the show ring and back to the set-up area," recounted Lang, who is a financial adviser.

"My husband said 'Louise, I want you to meet Mike Duffy.' I paused at what I was doing, and we exchanged pleasantries, and I believe he mentioned having a kerry blue, and I said he should be a club member."

Defence lawyer Donald Bayne appeared to make the case that the kennel show was a big deal in Peterborough, Ont., pressing Lang on her belief that local reporters sometimes covered the event. Duffy has suggested in his daily schedules that his presence there was public business.

"So I'm assuming there can't be that much news in Peterborough. You know, they're looking for stuff you put into the paper," Lang said. "So I imagine they take pictures of beautiful dogs."

Lang told police that she was told Duffy was there to buy a dog from a New Brunswick breeder, but she didn't have first-hand knowledge if he did or didn't.

Bayne told the court that Duffy actually purchased the dog the following year. Duffy's diary has an entry on January 24, 2011, "H&M pick up pup," H being Heather Duffy and M being Mike. After that point, there several entries regarding a dog named Chloe.

The American Kennel Club describes the kerry blue terrier as "intelligent and game...originally bred to hunt and retrieve." Its "soft, wavy coat can range from deep slate gray blue to light blue gray," says the club.

The trial is expected to hear Wednesday by phone or videoconference from broadcaster and columnist Ezra Levant, who did speechwriting for Duffy in the past.

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