Duffy never attended event that prompted trip to Vancouver, former Tory says

Mike Duffy reached out to former Conservative cabinet minister Gary Lunn in 2014 as the RCMP investigated the senator’s expenses, including a taxpayer-funded trip to the West Coast in 2009, court heard Friday.

OTTAWA — Mike Duffy reached out to former Conservative cabinet minister Gary Lunn in 2014 as the RCMP investigated the senator’s expenses, including a taxpayer-funded trip to the West Coast in 2009, court heard Friday.

“My lawyer would like to chat with you on the phone about the event,” Duffy wrote in an October 2014 email that was entered into evidence at the embattled senator’s trial.

The email describes how Duffy flew out for the Saanich Fair, which draws more than 60,000 people annually, and how his appearance at the event was dropped at the “last minute.”

That happened, Duffy suggests, because organizers had procured a different attraction: a version of the torch to be used at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

“My memory is you and your team decided that since you had the Olympic torch, my presence wasn’t needed,” Duffy wrote. “It was a last-minute call, but that’s the way it is in politics.”

Duffy, who had also reached out by phone, appeared eager to connect with Lunn. “We need to touch base in case the Crown calls you as a prosecution witness,” he added.

Lunn, who was defeated in his B.C. riding in 2011 by Green party Leader Elizabeth May, testified Friday he did not respond to Duffy’s email. He also ignored a request to connect with Duffy on the professional networking site, LinkedIn.

Lunn said there was a “casual” arrangement for Duffy to attend the Saanich Fair, but he testified Duffy did not attend the event.

And he had a different explanation for why the appearance was cancelled: the local Conservative electoral association didn’t want to foot the senator’s bills, he said.

“There was a conversation about him attending the fair with me in 2009, but it never happened,” Lunn said outside the courthouse following his testimony.

“There was a request to pay for some expenses. The EDA said no; as consequence of that, he never attended.”

The Crown is arguing Duffy improperly charged taxpayers for the cost of travelling to Vancouver so he could attend a family event.

Duffy has pleaded not guilty to 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery in connection with his housing and travel expenses — the result of a spending controversy that spawned the exhaustive forensic audit currently roiling the ranks of the upper chamber.

Auditor general Michael Ferguson is set to release his findings publicly on Tuesday, but the report has been delivered to the Senate. The files of nine senators — two sitting, seven already retired — are being recommended for referral to the RCMP.

Sen. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, a victims-rights champion who was appointed by Harper in 2010, said Thursday he would sit as an Independent after confirming he’s the subject of a police investigation.

Sen. Colin Kenny, the other sitting senator on the RCMP list, marks 31 years in the upper chamber at the end of June after having been appointed by Pierre Trudeau in 1984.

Earlier Friday, Bayne said it was “too early to tell” if the auditor general’s report would make its way into the trial.

The report also flags the expenses of three senior senators: government leader Claude Carignan, Speaker Leo Housakos and opposition leader James Cowan, all of whom played a key role in putting a new arbitration process in place for senators who end up running afoul of the auditor.

“Absolutely” it’s unfair that Duffy did not have access to such a process, Bayne said outside court.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Attendees of the Downtown Red Deer Market, which runs every Wednesday during the summer on Little Gaetz Avenue, have complained about the lack of public washrooms. (Photo contributed by Red Deer Downtown Business Association)
Portable washrooms to be set up in downtown Red Deer this summer

More data is needed before the city invests in a permanent structure

A survey of 3,083 Red Deer residents was done by an online platform on behalf of the City of Red Deer, generating about 11,607 comments.. (File photo)
Red Deerians speak out about COVID-19 concerns in survey

More than 3,000 city residents were surveyed

A Calgary energy company's request for a tax break was turned down by Lacombe County. About $31,000 was owed by a company that went bankrupt and Silverleaf Resources Inc. bought some of their assets.
(Advocate file photo)
Lacombe County turns down oil company’s tax break request

Silverleaf Resources Inc. hoped for break on $31,000 in back taxes

RCMP recovered hundreds of stolen items, including Bibles and historical items stolen from the Bowden Pioneer Museum.
(Photo from RCMP)
Museum artifacts among hundreds of stolen items recovered by RCMP in central Alberta

Second World War and other historical and religious items recovered

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Kailer Yamamoto (56) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Morgan Rielly (44) reach for the rebound from Leafs goalie Michael Hutchinson (30) during second-period NHL action in Edmonton on Monday, March 1, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Washington Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman watches his solo home run during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros Monday, March 1, 2021, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
In-game video returning to baseball for 2021

In-game video returning to baseball for 2021

Winnipeg Jets' Nathan Beaulieu (88) clears the puck in front of goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) as Vancouver Canucks' Elias Pettersson (40) looks for the rebound during second-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Monday March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Three first-period goals pace Vancouver Canucks to 4-0 victory over Winnipeg Jets

Three first-period goals pace Vancouver Canucks to 4-0 victory over Winnipeg Jets

Rugby training gear is shown during a Torotno Wolfpack during a practice at Lamport Stadium in Toronto. Bradford, Featherstone, Leigh, London,  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Neil Davidson
Plans announced to create a grassroots Canadian rugby league co-op

Plans announced to create a grassroots Canadian rugby league co-op

Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) and centre Chris Tierney (71) get sandwiched between Flames defencemen Rasmus Andersson (4) and Juuso Valimaki (6) during second-period NHL action in Ottawa on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Batherson scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 5-1 win over Calgary Flames

Batherson scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 5-1 win over Calgary Flames

Skiers may be safe from COVID-19, but not those working to keep slopes open: experts

Skiers may be safe from COVID-19, but not those working to keep slopes open: experts

Armas likes what he sees in Toronto FC camp but there are still issues to resolve

Armas likes what he sees in Toronto FC camp but there are still issues to resolve

Team Canada's Jocelyne Larocque celebrates her goal past the U.S.A. with goaltender Embrace Maschmeyer during first period of Women's Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver on February 5, 2020. The Canadian women's hockey team opened a camp Monday in Halifax, which is co-hosting the upcoming world championship. Hockey Canada invited 35 players to participate in the seven-day camp closed to the public and media at Scotiabank Centre. The women are training under restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a limit of 25 players on the ice at one time. "They will continue to follow strict COVID-19 testing as per team health and safety protocols that have been detailed and approved by Nova Scotia Public Health," Hockey Canada said Monday in a statement. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canadian women’s hockey team preparing for possible May world championship

Canadian women’s hockey team preparing for possible May world championship

Most Read