Far longer than anyone expected
In this artist's sketch, Sen. Mike Duffy, a former member of the Conservative caucus, testifies at his trial in Ottawa, on Dec. 8, 2015. (Photo: Greg Banning/Canadian Press)He'd eventually publicly admit to confusion with the rules and pay $90,000 back into the public purse — money it would later emerge was not his, but came from Harper's former chief of staff, Nigel Wright. More questions would emerge, this time about the partisan work Duffy was doing and whether taxpayers should have been footing the bill for that, too, as he was billing the Senate for some of those trips. The whos and wheres and whens and whats of his expenses were the meat of the weeks of testimony that dragged on far longer than anyone expected, including through the early part of the fall election campaign which saw the Conservative government ousted in favour of the Liberals.
There's no question the changing of the political guard in Ottawa took some of the air out of the proceedings, Sankoff noted. But neither side has any room left for it anyway. "What they were dealing with for long periods, who knew what at what time, who was dealing with the decision, I don't think any of that matters anymore," he said. "I think they are really going to focus to the extent that they will on trying to explain why he should or shouldn't be convicted." But that's not to say that Justice Charles Vaillancourt's eventual ruling will have no fallout, Sankoff said. "What the judge says could have some impact on how the government does business, because the judge could make some statements about the inappropriateness of some of the conduct of the prime minister's office and I think that has resonance even for future governments," he said. While two weeks have been set aside for the final submissions, the judge has also asked both sides to present them in writing first, in order to focus them in the hope that the full two weeks will not be needed.
"What they were dealing with for long periods, who knew what at what time, who was dealing with the decision, I don't think any of that matters anymore."
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