Conservatives block key witness on Duffy audit

Conservative senators blocked a bid Thursday to have a key figure from the audit firm Deloitte testify about alleged interference into the review of Sen. Mike Duffy’s expenses.

OTTAWA — Conservative senators blocked a bid Thursday to have a key figure from the audit firm Deloitte testify about alleged interference into the review of Sen. Mike Duffy’s expenses.

The move came as the Senate’s internal economy committee heard from three other Deloitte partners about the audit they had done into Duffy’s living claims between February and May.

Deloitte’s Gary Timm confirmed what had been revealed in a police report last week — that Michael Runia, one of the firm’s managing partners, called him to inquire about the Duffy audit. Runia was not a member of the audit team.

An RCMP court filing last week revealed that Runia made the call at the request of Conservative Sen. Irving Gerstein, who in turn had been prompted by the Prime Minister’s Office.

“As I indicated before, he wanted to know if Senator Duffy were to repay (his expenses), how much would that amount be,” Timm said of Runia.

“And I said I couldn’t tell him; I couldn’t disclose any confidential information to him. That was the gist of the conversation.”

Timm said that he notified others at the firm about the call, but no report was made back to the Senate committee — Deloitte’s client — about the matter.

When Liberal Sen. George Furey later moved to have Runia appear to answer questions, Sen. Gerald Comeau, the Conservative chairman of the committee, ruled against him, saying it’s not the committee’s job to conduct police-style investigations.

A subsequent vote, which included Comeau’s Conservative colleagues, upheld the ruling, much to Furey’s disappointment.

“Mr Runia is a very intricate part of that, now that we know from Mr. Timm (that) the person we hired to do our forensic investigation was contacted by somebody else who had no business contacting him,” Furey said afterward.

“Now we’re told by our Conservative friends that we cannot ask that person to come before the committee and explain his involvement.”

Conservative Sen. Hugh Segal, who attended the committee but did not have a vote, said he too would have liked to hear from Runia.

“I think the notion of having a formal conversation with him before a committee would have been useful,” Segal said.

Deputy Liberal Senate Leader Joan Fraser later served notice that she would bring a motion on Tuesday that Runia be called to the committee — forcing the entire upper chamber to vote on the issue.

The topic of the Deloitte audit continued to resonate down the hall in the Commons.

“Why does the Prime Minister have his Conservative senators blocking the testimony of Michael Runia if he has nothing to hide?” asked NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.

“What we saw today was that Deloitte appeared before the Senate internal economy committee, took questions and reaffirmed that the forensic audit was conducted with the highest standards and the utmost confidentiality,” said Harper’s parliamentary secretary Paul Calandra.

The RCMP files raised many questions about potential interference by the Prime Minister’s Office into the audit.

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

Just Posted

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Patient information breach at Red Deer hospital

3,224 patients had their electronic health records accessed improperly

An Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet arrives at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Air Canada agrees to $5.9-billion aid package, giving Ottawa equity stake in airline

$1.4 billion earmarked to help reimburse thousands of customers

Innisfail RCMP say Brandon Pitts is missing. (Photo contributed)
Missing central Alberta man

Innisfail RCMP request public’s help

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with Yukon Premier Sandy Silver as Liberal on Wednesday February 8, 2017 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Yukon headed for minority government as two main parties in a tie

Liberals came into the election looking to build on their surprise 2016 majority win

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan takes part in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press at National Defence headquarters in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. Sajjan took aim at recent Chinese military expansions into the South China Sea this evening even as he faced questions about the Liberal government’s ties to Beijing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Sajjan targets Chinese claims in South China Sea, battles Tories over Beijing ties

HMCS Calgary shadowed for at least part of the voyage as it passed near the disputed Spratly Islands

Hindu devotees wearing face masks as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus stand in a queue to offer prayers inside a temple dedicated to goddess Kali in Jammu, India, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. New infections have surged in the past month and India has now reported over 13.6 million cases — pushing its toll past Brazil, and making it second only to the United States. In the past 24 hours, over 160,000 new infections have been detected and experts fear that the worst is yet to come. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
Johnson & Johnson delays shot rollout in Europe

BERLIN — Johnson & Johnson says it is delaying the rollout of… Continue reading

Restaurant workers and restaurant delivery workers wait in line to sign up for Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccine site, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the Sunset Park neighborhood of New York. The mobile vaccination effort includes two buses equipped with four to six vaccinators each, delivering the COVID-19 vaccine directly to communities most in need. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose… Continue reading

FILE-Team Canada’s Meaghan Mikkelson fights for control of the puck with U.S.A.’s Hayley Scamurra during third period of Women’s Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of women’s national teams, hopes a Rivalry Series against the United States can happen this winter.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer
Canadian women’s hockey team to open selection camp in Nova Scotia

Six goaltenders, 15 defenders and 26 forwards will vie for spots on Canada’s 23-player roster

FILE - Rhian Wilkinson, left, and Melissa Tancredi of Canada’s women’s soccer team attend a news conference in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 to announce their retirement from the team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson now part of England coaching setup

Wilkinson left Canada Soccer in January to join interim England head coach Hege Riise as an assistant

Canadian actor/producer/director Jay Baruchel is photographed at the 5 Drive-In Theatre in Oakville, Ont., ahead of the premier of Baruchel’s movie Random Acts of Violence, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Jay Baruchel to host Amazon Prime Video’s ‘LOL: Last One Laughing Canada’

Final comedian left standing wins a grand prize for a charity of their choice

Letters
Letter: Leaders like MLA Jason Stephan should work towards greater good

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan talks about the devastating social and… Continue reading

Opinion
Opinion: Women, hit hardest by pandemic, key to economic recovery

Events of the past year have laid bare the many disparities and… Continue reading

Most Read