I come here today, against my doctor's orders, directly from the Heart Institute. I have to give them a plug. If you have any spare cash, they're always happy to take donations. Maybe that's out of order. Anyway, they are wonderful, caring people over there who advised me, if possible, to stay away from these proceedings because the stress from the proceedings is toxic to my heart. But despite their warnings, I have no choice but to appear considering the avalanche of untruths and character assassination with which I've been unfairly and viciously attacked by colleagues who should know better.
I listened with a mixture of sadness and incredulity to what has been said over the past few days. I thought Sen. Carignan, leader of the government, would have been more careful in his accusations, especially considering the recent profile of him in The Globe and Mail and the defamatory things being said about him in his province of Quebec. He deserves the presumption of innocence in his activities on the elected playing field, and so do we three. Sadly, that isn't the case.
Hansard reports that on or about 16:30 on Oct. 23, Sen. Carignan said: "... the Rules of the Senate were violated repeatedly, with negligence and recklessness ..."
What rules? When and how? Does he not know that the PMO, speaking explicitly through Nigel Wright and after checking into my expense claims, wrote to me on Dec. 4, 2012:
"Mike, I am told you have complied with all of the applicable rules and there will be several senators with similar arrangements?"
Was he referring to Sen. Stewart Olsen, who took two years to move from her home in Ottawa to her home in New Brunswick?
This was Dec. 4, colleagues, Dec. 4, 2012, after I had been four full years as a senator, and this is in direct reference to all of the living allowance claims that Sen. Carignan had the nerve to say I broke the rules about, recklessly.
And Nigel Wright wasn't alone. On Dec. 3, 2012, the day before Mr. Wright sent me that email, Sen. David Tkachuk, the chair of the board of internal economy, confirmed to the media that my expenses were entirely within the rules. He stated there was no reason for me not to claim the housing allowance in Ottawa.
Sen. Carignan's wild, unsubstantiated charge reminds me of that defamatory accusation made on May 28 at the infamous televised meeting of the board of internal economy. That rare, televised meeting of the board was scheduled after I had the temerity to tell the media on May 23 that they could relax, that I wanted all of the facts to come out in the proper place, in the proper time, with all of the players under oath.
Well, guess what? The PMO didn't like that. "Duffy wants to go public. We'll fix him."
So they scheduled a televised meeting of the board of internal economy, knowing my lawyer was away, and then gave me nine minutes' notice that they had new evidence against me.
Well, I stayed away from the ambush and watched TV to learn what they were talking about, without ever interviewing me, and contrary to the findings of the independent auditor Deloitte, they concluded that I had engaged in a pattern — a pattern of filing false expenses, and they called in the RCMP.
When I finally received a DVD containing the so-called evidence, what did I discover? They had sent the Mounties every expense claim I ever filed in the Senate, from Dec. 29, 2008, to Aug. 12, 2013. That totalled 215 claims.
Senate finance decreased 47 claims, saying I had overcharged a meal allowance here, 13 bucks; a mileage adjustment there, a few dollars. But they also increased 28 claims saying I had not charged the Senate enough.
When you do the math, 215 claims over four and a half years, I overcharged the Senate, they said — and we didn't challenge their math — $437.35, which, on 215 claims, works out to $2.03 a claim.
And Senate finance corrected these small errors, this pattern of filing false claims, $2.03 per claim.
This is the type of minor expense mistake routinely made in all Senate offices, and you know, with the complexity of the Senate expense form, that that is true. That also explains why the Senate administration has since dumped those forms and brought in a new computerized accounting system to make it clearer and more understandable for everyone.
Colleagues, your staff sends in the form and Senate finance makes corrections and adjustments. Not a penny remains owing from these minor adjustments, which were all duly corrected and paid. Let's get it straight.
They, the board of internal economy, on live television, accused me of submitting fake expense claims, a grand total of $2.03 a claim. And for this, they defamed a sitting senator on national television?
I asked for a copy of all of the correspondence from the Senate administration over the time that I have been in this august chamber, four and a half years. I wanted every communication between me, my office and the Senate administration about anything about which they were concerned.
Did they ever, ever once write and ask me, "What's going on? We have some concerns." Never. Not one word.
If this monstrous defamation had been made outside, I would have sued, but it was made in committee, where senators are protected by parliamentary privilege. This was back on May 28.
The board of internal economy actually met twice on that day. They met in secret in the morning. Were the 15 members of the board told there that they were about to defame a colleague on national TV over errors amounting to $2.03 a claim?
I can't believe my colleagues on the board would have participated in this hideous distortion of the truth had they known the alleged crime was the price of a Tim's: two bucks. $2.03. Small, inexpensive, insignificant claims mistakes, all immediately corrected.
Well, I can only conclude that this was a setup, planned by the Senate leadership under the direction of the PMO and designed to destroy my credibility with Canadians, if and when I ever went public about the real story behind the 90,000.
Given the enormity of the May 28 allegations, should any senator believe anything they are being told by the leadership today about the actions of Senators Wallin, Brazeau and me? What lies are they whispering this afternoon in caucus about, 'If you only knew what we knew about these three terrible people?'
I know one thing: You can't trust this leadership to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Speaking of leadership, that was quite a performance last week by Sen. LeBreton. She smugly dismissed my revelations of conspiracy, bribery, threats and extortion. 'It was a whopper.' Well, it is a whopper all right. You wait until Canadians see the email trail in the hands of my lawyers and, I hope, in the hands of the RCMP.
Those emails among the PMO, their lawyers — including Ben Perrin, who is very actively involved in vetting resolutions for the party's national convention this weekend — lawyers for the PMO; Ben Perrin; the Conservative Party's lawyer, Arthur Hamilton, he was involved; and my lawyer, when you look at all those emails in that chain, it proves this was a setup from the start and that I am innocent.
The PM knew I wasn't guilty. Nigel Wright knew I wasn't guilty; he said so in that email. And the Senate leadership knew I wasn't guilty. Just take a look at the documentary evidence.
So I'm back home in P.E.I., after the prime minister has decided we are going to do this nefarious scheme, and Nigel is working the phones, coaxing me to go along with this terrible plan. He even said he would pay the $90,000. All I had to do was to go along and do as I was told.
Not only that, but when I insisted on written guarantees that repaying money I didn't owe would not be seen by the Senate as a guilty plea, Nigel Wright arranged to have my legal fees paid. That is right. One cheque from Nigel Wright? No, ladies and gentlemen: there were two cheques, at least two cheques. The PMO, listen to this, had the Conservative Party's lawyer, Arthur Hamilton, pay my legal fees. He paid for my lawyer — Arthur Hamilton — a cheque, $13,560. That is right, senators: not one payment not one payment but two.
Contrary to the prime minister's assertion on CFRB last week that he ordered repayment because Senate expense rules were, in his words, "beyond the shadow of a doubt broken," he had my legal bills fully paid. Why would he do that? He would never do it, if he believed my expense claims were improper.
He did this because, as I have said from the start, this was all part of his strategy, negotiated by his lawyers and the Conservative party's lawyers, to make a political situation, embarrassing to his base, go away.
He took their money I suspect; I can't prove it yet. I suspect he took their money, the base's money, to pay off to make a lawyer, to make this all go away. The cheques tell who is telling the truth and who is not.
Mike Duffy, the man they now claim is a cheat, had more than $13,000 in legal expenses paid by Arthur Hamilton, the Conservative party's lawyer from Cassels Brock, this on top of the $90,000, which they say came from Nigel Wright. I have never seen a cheque from Nigel Wright, but I do have the cheque stub and the transmittal letter from Arthur Hamilton, the Conservative party's lawyer, and when I finish my remarks today, with the Senate's permission, I would like to table it, and copies of the emails and other memoranda that I will refer to in the next few minutes.
What more evidence do honourable senators need than the email train among the highest levels in the PMO detailing the contract negotiations? The links to the $90,000 payment, and now the further $13,000 payment from the party lawyer to my lawyers, shows that this monstrous fraud was the PMO's creation from start to finish.
When you have an opportunity to read these emails, you will see the back and forth as the PMO lawyers checked with their principal on the language which would be used to direct the future actions of Sen. LeBreton and others in the Conservative party leadership. As a senator, it saddens me to see that at one point, when Sen. LeBreton actually tried to act independently, Nigel Wright wrote me a letter saying he was displeased by this freelancing by Sen. LeBreton and her colleagues. His tone was, who do they think they are?
He ordered the Senate leadership and the Conservatives on the steering committee of the board of internal economy to fall into line and stop unilateral action. It's all here in writing.
Are we independent senators or PMO puppets? When you read this documentation, colleagues, you will see who was running this brutal campaign to destroy support among Canadians for a chamber of sober second thought, a chamber that would act as a break on the unfettered power of the people across the way.
Sen. LeBreton says she can't find that two-page legal memo written on her behalf by her constitutional adviser.
Well, the document is dated Jan. 6, 2009 and was sent to Sen. Wallin and me before we were sworn in. In this memo, Sen. LeBreton has her constitutional expert explain to us the Senate's residency policy. Why did she do that? Because we wanted to make sure we followed the rules. So they sent us this two-page memo, and it says the Senate itself determines what constitutes residency, free entirely from definitions set out by other government departments or statutes. That memo further explains that residency does not depend in any way on the number of days spent in one's home province or at a given residence.
We followed the advice in this memo, as did my staff when they filled in my housing allowances and expense forms, under the guidance and supervision of the experts at Senate finance.
I would like to table that as well. ...
We have more to come. We have more to come.
The memo further explains that residency does not depend in any way on the number of days spent in one's home province or at a given residence. I followed the advice in this memo, as did my staff when they filled in my housing allowances and expense forms, under the guidance and supervision of the experts at Senate finance. I would like to table that document as well.
So to recap: I followed the rules set out by Sen. LeBreton's expert. Four years in, on Dec. 3, Sen. Tkachuk, a gentleman, then chair of the board of internal economy, confirmed to the media that I had followed the rules and was eligible for these allowances. The next day, on Dec. 4, Nigel Wright at the PMO checked and reported my claims were within the rules; and, finally, Deloitte confirmed that, except for a clerical error on per diems during my vacation, I had not broken the rules.
But there is more.
Sen. LeBreton tried to brush off my Feb. 13 meeting with the prime minister and Nigel Wright. How can she speak to this? She wasn't there. She was never present during the meeting.
As I told you, colleagues, last Wednesday, it was the prime minister, Nigel Wright and me, just the three of us.
And this wasn't a casual encounter, as Sen. LeBreton suggests. The meeting was set up on Feb. 11 when I met with Nigel Wright in the Langevin Block. That's when I first heard about it and immediately voiced my objections to this fake payback scheme. Last week I told senators that at that meeting on Feb. 13, down the hall, the prime minister agreed I had not broken the rules but insisted I pay the money back, money I didn't owe, because the Senate's rules are, in his words, "inexplicable to our base."
It was never about ethics. It was always all about politics, which explains why Arthur Hamilton was busy cutting cheques.
Have you heard enough?
Wait. There is even more.
Sen. LeBreton, some Conservative MPs and some PMO spinners have been attacking me for saying I had gotten a loan at the RBC. Some people, colleagues, just have no shame. That line about RBC was part of a script written for me and emailed to me by the PMO.
On Feb. 21, after all of the threats and intimidation, I reluctantly agreed to go along with this dirty scheme. The PMO spin machine was in high gear. Cellphone and PMO telephone records from February will show there were numerous phone calls and emails to me as the PMO developed their version of events, and rehearsed with me right up until minutes before I went on television the lines I would use with the media.
Early on, in those discussions with the PMO, the PMO experts predicted the media would ask, "Where did you get the $90,000?" When they heard that I had been using a line of credit to renovate my home in Cavendish, they jumped right on it. It was suggested I go to the RBC, borrow the cash to pay off that line of credit, and then, when the media asked, "Where did you get the money to pay the $90,000?," the PMO told me to say, "My wife and I took out a loan at the Royal Bank."
Well, that's technically correct, we took out a loan, but that loan wasn't to repay money, the $90,000 that the PMO agreed I didn't owe. That line was written by the PMO to deceive Canadians as to the real source of the $90,000.
The millions of Canadians who voted for Prime Minister Harper and the thousands of Tories gathering in Calgary this week would be shocked to see how some of these people, some of these Tories, operate.
They have no moral compass. Oh, they talk a great game about integrity, but, in my experience, they demonstrate every day that they do not understand the meaning of the phrase "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."
How sad it is to see this attack on this important branch of our parliamentary system by people who are supposed to know something about the Senate's role in our democracy.
So why am I, a senator they agreed had followed the rules and who had foolishly played along with their nefarious plan, why am I being subjected to this unprecedented and arbitrary process of being suspended from the Senate? In the private sector, an employee can sue for wrongful dismissal, but not here in the Senate. The Senate, we are told, is above the law.
Last week, Sen. Carignan said the Senate is a rights-free zone. I couldn't believe it. He actually said the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the bedrock of our Constitution, does not apply in the Senate. Talk about special status.
Do Canadians really think senators should not be bound by the Charter of Rights? Do they want their democracy run without respect for the rule of law and due process? This assault on our rights undermines Canadians' respect for their Parliament, and if it's not stopped it will set a very dangerous precedent.
As Conservatives, we don't embrace changes in our system of government easily. We check it carefully to make sure it's absolutely the right kind of change, not just expedient change.
We remember and respect the Magna Carta that King John signed almost 800 years ago; the fundamental justice set out in the Diefenbaker Bill of Rights, more than half a century ago. So today, I ask you to stand up for fundamental justice and do not let this unjust motion pass.
Tell Sen. Carignan that he hasn't proven his case or any case.
Tell him this is a matter for the justice system and ensure that with your vote, that justice prevails.
The government could end this by simply withdrawing these dangerous and anti-democratic motions. Declare victory and go off to Calgary to celebrate the government's many substantial achievements for Canadians. Let due process proceed.
This is a case for the history books. Nigel Wright, Sen. Tkachuk and Deloitte all found me not guilty. What will history say of you, honourable senators, after this vote?
Thank you, colleagues.