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Mike Duffy Trial To Start In April

OTTAWA - The politically charged trial of suspended Sen. Mike Duffy will begin next April 7, six months before the next scheduled federal election.

In a brief proceeding today, the court set aside 41 days for the case, scheduling it for April 7-May 12 and June 1-June 19 and foregoing a preliminary hearing.

The former Conservative senator faces 31 charges, including fraud, breach of trust and bribery.

The last charge deals with a $90,000 cheque Duffy got from Nigel Wright, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's one-time chief of staff, to reimburse the Senate for challenged expense claims.

Donald Bayne, Duffy's lawyer hasn't ruled out the possibility that Harper might be called to testify.

Duffy, who was charged last summer, had sought an early trial date.

Bayne cited the senator's recurring health problems — he has been treated several times for heart trouble — in seeking an early date.

"As we've said from the start, we trust that the evidence will show Sen. Duffy is innocent of these criminal charges," Bayne said, as he left the courthouse.

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