Anybody here following the Mike Duffy trial in Ottawa?
For people out of the province, Mike is a former well-known newsman who was appointed to the Canadian Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Mike is facing multiples charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust over expense account claims. The trial began Tuesday, and is expected to last 21 days or so.
It’s a very high-profile case in Canada, garnering much media attention. It also has the potential to hurt the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), among others.
One of the major issues is Mike’s primary residence — i.e. his official residence. Mike claims it is his cottage-like home in Prince Edward Island, and the house he keeps in Ottawa near the Parliament Buildings is not his official residence. The Crown disagrees. It’s an important issue because of expense claims made for the Ottawa residence — all out-of-town senators get some sort of allowance for their Ottawa accommodations.
After two days, I feel I can make the call on how all this will turn out: Mike will be exonerated on most, if not all charges — certainly the most serious charges.
The Crown has bungled this case since its opening speech, when it declared that residency rules were unclear and that Mike probably shouldn’t have been representing Prince Edward Island in the Senate.
Excuse me, but if the Crown is unclear on these concepts and uses words like “probably,” and the Prime Minister, who appointed Mike to represent P.E.I., felt the rules allowed for this and the Senate financial committee didn’t voice any objections, then why is Mike — of all people! — now being challenged on it by a zealous prosecutor, who is working for the Canadian taxpayers, I might add.
The Crown has already lost the first major premise in this case — and looks way out of its league — and no doubt Mike and his lawyer will show up loose, “unclear” Senate rules that allowed him to legally make all his claims. (And, apparently, he is not the only one, reports are saying.) It’s not Mike’s fault if the Senate has lax rules, and that senators take advantage of them.
Personally speaking, I know people who have declared their cottages as their principal residences, even if they have a home in the city. And I know of one couple who had two cottages as well as a house in the city, so the husband declared one cottage as his principal residence and the wife claimed the other.
It doesn’t matter to the taxman: yes, you get to keep all the profits if you sell your principal residence in Canada. But when you sell the secondary home, you pay taxes on the profits (unless it is registered in your wife’s name).
Further proof that Mike honestly believes his P.E.I. home — Mike was born in P.E.I. — is his primary residence, because if he was trying to rip off the tax man, he would have declared his Ottawa home as his principal residence. It is worth much more than his P.E.I. home and when he sells it, he’ll probably pay a lot of taxes on the profits — which he could have kept tax-free if he had declared it is primary residence.
The Crown doesn’t seem to understand that some people spend a lot of time away from their personal residences (i.e. retired people who go south 6 months of the year). Length of occupancy is irrelevant.
This is a show trial, and an expensive one at that. And probably a massive waste of taxpayers’ money — far more than Mike is alleged to have taken.
I pick: Mike Duffy to win.