POLITICS

Mike Duffy Trial: Defence Plays Up Credentials Of Consultant Friend

11/25/2015 10:32 EST | Updated 11/25/2016 05:12 EST

OTTAWA — A sounding board, an adviser, a talent booker, an Internet researcher and web content consultant — Gerald Donohue was at different points all of these things to Sen. Mike Duffy.

The question before Ontario Court Justice Charles Vaillancourt is whether Donohue's roles constituted legitimate Senate business, or rather fraud and a breach of the public's trust.

Eight of the 31 Duffy faces relate to $65,000 in Senate contracts awarded to Donohue. Duffy has pleaded not guilty.

mike duffy

Senator Mike Duffy makes his way to the courthouse as his trial resumes. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)

Of that $65,000 amount, Donohue paid out roughly $40,000 to a number of other service providers at Duffy's direction, including speechwriters and a makeup artist.

Bayne's second day of cross-examination revolved around Donohue's resume going back 40 years.

The defence is trying to make the case that Donohue had legitimate credentials as a consultant, and that he did actual Senate-related work for Duffy. The Crown has suggested Donohue was unqualified to act as a consultant to Duffy, and did not deliver a substantive product for the money he was paid.

Donohue worked as an international and regional representative for the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET) union, and later became human resources director for the local CTV station in Ottawa.

Bayne took the court through an official letter Donohue penned to then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau in 1977 on broadcasting issues, and also the honorarium he was paid to act as a labour consultant for CTV during the Calgary Olympics.

"Did the police (investigators) ever pursue with you details of your extensive experience at the federal level negotiating for NABET?" asked Bayne.

"No," Donohue responded via video link.

"Or your decade of management experience with CJOH and all the various administration and other responsibilities...did they pursue any of that?"

"No."

Bayne zeroed in on the service contracts that Donohue signed with the Senate, which included the catch-all line that he might do any kind of duty for Duffy "that may arise from time to time." The vagueness of Senate rules has come up repeatedly during the seven-month long trial.

"That's exactly my criticism to Sen. Duffy when I saw it, this was the old type of clause that the CBC always proposed so you could do camera and sweep the floor at the same time," said Donohue, who had also worked as a TV technician.

Donohue said that because ill health made him housebound, he was always available to talk to Duffy by phone. When the senator would ask for information about a public policy issue, Donohue would spend hours looking for it on the Internet.

"Is he a bit of a night hawk and tend to be a little long winded?" Bayne asked at one point.

In all, Donohue estimated he would spend 100 hours a year talking on the phone to Duffy, and another 50 hours completing tasks related to those conversations. That included research on the aging population, and securing the work of third-parties for Duffy_ such as speechwriters.

"Sir, you were never paid by senator Duffy for purely services or private business of his, you were always and only paid for services related, as you understand it, to his functions and interests as a senator?" Bayne asked.

"That's true, that's right," Donohue said.

Donohue's testimony is scheduled to resume on Friday afternoon.

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