Duffy ducks

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From whom — and why — should Sen. Mike Duffy continue to command any respect as a former journalist or appointed stalwart of sober second thought in this country?

Let’s be clear. Duffy is hardly worse than many others among Ottawa’s entitled class. Politicians, senators and bureaucrats of all stripes regularly help themselves to disproportionate shares of the public pie.

But Duffy’s smug dismissal of criticism is especially galling, given the man once considered himself a prince among media watchdogs, dutifully holding those in public office accountable.

Recently, reports surfaced that Duffy claimed $33,413 in Ottawa living expenses last year because he considers himself a resident of P.E.I. Unfortunately, P.E.I. doesn’t agree. He owns a renovated cottage there, but has lived, paid taxes and voted in the Ottawa area for decades. And his home province charges him non-resident taxes,

Duffy, formerly CTV’s star parliamentary reporter, is not the only senator spongeing this extra benefit off the public. The Senate Standing Committee doesn’t properly define residential status, so there’s little to stop it from happening. It’s a typical case of “everyone else is doing it.”

But a handful of senators do refrain. And even Duffy apparently feels it’s not defensible. Why? Because just before Christmas, when a review of senators’ expenses was announced, he took extraordinary measures to fast-track a P.E.I. health card — having his office call the province’s health minister directly. The minister refused to intervene.

It’s not the first time Duffy has raised eyebrows about expenses. In 2011, while travelling the country to stump for the Conservatives, the party wrote some of Duffy’s expenses off as services of a “supplier.” That meant the party was eligible for rebates from the public purse.

Short version: taxpayers helped pay for Duffy to woo voters.

With the shoe on the other foot, Mike Duffy apparently sees journalism a little differently these days.

When the Ottawa Citizen’s Glen McGregor followed up on the most recent story, the senator called it all a bunch of BS.

“Glen, I’m not speaking to you,” he told McGregor when asked for comment. “… and you’re not encouraged to call this phone.”

On Thursday, Duffy fled an energy conference in Halifax after giving a speech in which he mocked the media for straying from important issues. “You should be doing adult work,” he scolded one reporter over his shoulder as he escaped through the kitchen.

Compare that with an on-air confrontation then CTV News host Duffy had with a Liberal strategist in 2006. His guest tried to change the subject after being grilled over an embarrassing campaign ad.

Duffy’s response:

“You ask me why I raise this? Because this has to do with integrity. It has to do with the people who want to lead our country. This is a perfectly legitimate issue to be raised by journalists. … We have a public responsibility to raise it. You were in here earlier when we were off the air on a commercial break trying to intimidate me into not going back to that ad. We will not be intimidated. We will do our jobs as journalists.”

Organizations: Senate Standing Committee, Conservatives, Ottawa Citizen CTV News

Geographic location: Ottawa, P.E.I., Halifax

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Recent comments

  • Will Cole
    February 09, 2013 - 08:09

    Mike Duffy is a joke... typical Harperite.

    • david
      February 11, 2013 - 09:58

      Will Cole is a joke.....typical Laytonite. Does that have one iota of validity? Is that worth posting? Sweet Jeezuz, save us from this complete idiocy.

  • Fast track MCP
    February 08, 2013 - 17:26

    Duffy should get his MCP card fast tracked .Can Mr. Noseworthy please get that done asap & submit a 6 figure bill :)

  • Political Watcher
    February 08, 2013 - 13:55

    Mike Duffy or should I say Mike BLUFFY? He has always been a hugh bluff and an embarrassment to legitimate journalists. I remember attending a conference recently where he was the keynote speaker, his speech was to be on the state of Canadian Politics. When Bluffy took the stage all he did was prepare a standard "cocktail napkin" chat about his personal ecnounters with people while in Ottawa. I felt ripped-off as an attendee and felt very sorry for the host committee who paid tens of thousands of dollars to have him speak. he didn't even have the intelligence or courtesy to prepare a proper speech. Contrast this with a conference where Rex Murphy was the keynote and where Rex blew the doors of the room; at the end of the speech, just about all 800+ attendees stayed around and tried to get the chance to shake Rex's hand and to than him for such a heart pounding speech. Now, I am not comparing Bluffy to Murph, it would be the biggest insult to Rex to do so, but Bluffy could learn a thing or two abour clas and respct form a LEGITIMATE member of the journalist world. I would be remiss if I didn't ask if I am the only one not surprised that he choos to dodge reporters by exiting through a kitchen?

  • Anna
    February 08, 2013 - 11:53

    David, I have to disagree with you on that. My only beef with the journalists at The Telegram is when they report a story they don't complete a follow up story. Something else comes along and it's all forgotten about. It is my conviction that most people are getting fed up with politicans robbing us blind.

    • david
      February 08, 2013 - 13:33

      You obviously forget the mindless chest thumping around here whenever Brian Tobin opened his mealy mouth, the cheers whenever John Crosbie insulted Sheila Copps et al, or the great local rejoicing when Danny Williams petualantly tore down the flag...all obediently covered by the Telegram, CBC, NTV. No, this place is nothing if not the most thin-skinned, circle-the-wagons, reality-selective region in the country.

  • Herb Morrison
    February 08, 2013 - 11:37

    Isn't this is the same Mike Duffy who, when he was a reporter with CTV, was doing a news story somewhere in Ottawa, when he spotted Margaret Trudeau in the crowd. Duffy stuck a microphone in Ms. Trudeau's face and asked an understandable shaken Ms. Trudeau her, in front of both the crowd of people present, plus a National television audience. whether or not ashe remembered that it was on this particular date that her youngest son had been killed in an avalanch while skiing? Really classy guy this Sen. Duffy.

  • Scott Free
    February 08, 2013 - 11:01

    In order to accept a Senate appointment, you must pledge to check your credibility and integrity at the door and dismiss all previously held beliefs that the Upper Chamber is worthless. It has enormous worth; and unparelleled opportunity to expand wealth; regardless of method of lies, deceit or cover-ups. If you can put up with being surrounded by unsavoury characters, it's all worth it in the end.

  • Frank
    February 08, 2013 - 11:00

    It's a good time to abolish the senate, Mr. Harper

  • david
    February 08, 2013 - 10:44

    I'll add this...if Duffy were a Senator from Newfoundland, this article would likely have a much different tone, if it was written at all. And not one disparaging comment would have been posted. In fact, I'd bet there'd be many congratulatory ones, encouraging him to suck harder.

  • Whaddaya At
    February 08, 2013 - 10:42

    Mike Duffy is so busy filling his boots with taxpayers' dollars and waddling up to the trough that he's become disoriented and can't remember where he's living. He did his job as a journalist and now he's doing his job as a politician by doing the taxpayers. That's what politicians do. It's one of the reasons why they're among the least trusted and least respected people in society.

  • david
    February 08, 2013 - 08:58

    When one becomes a member of a "pig at the trough" club, one inevitably becomes very skilled at emptying every last morsel from said trough. In the animal version, the controlling factor is that when the trough gets low, the 'pigs' must fight among themselves, sometimes viciously, until a dominant one emerges as deserving of the last morsels....in this system, we farmers simply keep replenishing the trough before it ever gets close to empty, so there's more than enough food for all the swine. Regardless, some pigs simply can't help themselves but to turn around and deficate in their gold-plated trough. And instead of punishing this pig, we farmers wait until it's convenient for them, clean out their trough, and refill it it with ever sweeter grain. Thus endeth the lesson.

  • anna
    February 08, 2013 - 08:42

    In Mike Duffy's mind, he is doing a wonderful job while joining all the other pigs (no insult to pigs) at the trough. Steven Harper must be in denial all this happening around him and not a word from him.