- Category: Canada News
- Published Thursday, December 17, 2015
- CTV News
Testimony has ended in the criminal trial for Sen. Mike Duffy. Proceedings are expected to resume Friday, to a set date for closing arguments to begin.
On Thursday, prosecutors focused on Duffy’s Ontario health card and personal income taxes before wrapping up their cross-examination.
Duffy has pleaded not guilty to 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery.
Redacted diary entries
Duffy said he wasn’t trying to hide anything by blacking out portions of diary entries that were eventually handed over to the Prime Minister’s Office to address matters related to his residency.
Duffy explained that he was only trying to protect caucus confidences when marking out some diary entries.
However, Duffy admitted that efforts to black out portions of the passages were rushed and he didn’t have enough time to hide them all. In court on Thursday, Holmes read out some of the entries over Duffy’s protests.
Ontario health card, income taxes
Focusing on allegations related to Duffy’s Ottawa residency, the Crown also asked the senator about his Ontario health card (OHIP).
Duffy said he was advised by his doctor -- and has a letter -- saying he needed an OHIP card to get treatment for his heart. He added that his wife wouldn’t let him join Senate, if he had to give up access to health care in Ontario.
He was advised to “keep” the OHIP card because P.E.I. did not have a heart surgeon, let alone a cardiac centre.
Duffy agreed that he also continued to file personal income taxes in Ontario until 2013. Like all parliamentarians, Duffy pointed out, he worked 60 per cent of any given year in Ontario. Duffy explained that his accountant told him, on several occasions, that if he was earning income in Ontario, he must pay income tax there.
Duffy also testified that he “probably” identified his suburban Ottawa home as his home address when applying for his renewed passport.
“Not about money”
At one point, Duffy accused the Crown of trying to create an impression that his life was about money. If that were true, Duffy added, he would have kept working in broadcasting. The senator said he devoted his life to making a difference, and doing things for others.
“My life is about trying to do the right thing, be helpful to people and make a contribution,” Duffy said.
The Saanich Fair
In a puzzling courtroom exchange, Duffy accused the Crown of body-shaming during a line of questioning about a trip the senator took to B.C. in 2009.
Duffy has been accused of billing taxpayers for going to his daughter’s play, but Duffy contends he travelled to the West Coast on business – specifically, to make an appearance at the Saanich Fair with Gary Lunn, to help the then-Conservative MP with his re-election bid.
Duffy’s appearance at the fair, the senator said, was cancelled at the last-minute.
On Thursday, the crown asked Duffy if he knew a lot about the Saanich Fair, and listed some of the fair’s features, including a pumpkin contest.
To which Duffy snapped, “You’re into body-shaming now.”
Following the exchange, the judge told Duffy to focus.
As the Crown continued its line of questioning, the court also heard that the senator gave his staff signed, blank expense forms for them to fill out. Duffy has said it is a common practice in the Senate, aimed at speeding the filing of paperwork.
One claim from Duffy’s office, however, was filed for days during which Duffy was on vacation in Florida.
Duffy testified that it was erroneously filled out by his assistant.
“Had I seen it I would never have claimed for my time away,” Duffy said.
With files from CTV's Katie Simpson and The Canadian Press
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