The Duffy Affair: 2009 email reveals requests for more perks

Julian Wolfe
May 31st, 2013

An email from 2009 shows former Conservative senator Mike Duffy asked the Conservative party for more perks just six months after Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed him. The email shows Duffy’s desire to get greater compensation for an “expanded role” in the Conservative party. He suggested joining cabinet without a portfolio to get more perks.

The email, obtained by CBC, contains the subject line “Duff” and was sent from Duffy’s private account to an unidentified Conservative insider.

The party insider warned Duffy to charge the Conservatives for extra expenses for extra staff and resources for the party and not his office budget “or it will hurt you down the road.”

Duffy then asks how he will be compensated for “my expanded role in the party.”

The email continued, with Duffy saying he would speak to Conservative senator Ivy Gerstein, who chairs the party’s funds, although it seems to indicate he’d already spoken to Gerstein. “I suggested they make me a min without portfolio, so I get a staff, car and more resources to deal with the pr fallout etc. he laughed and said he didn’t think THAT was within the realm of the Cons fund.”

Gerstein was appointed at the same time as Duffy but used to be the president of People’s Jewlers.

The responder in the email asks Duffy, “What do I demand?” In brackets, the author provides an answer of his own, “(That the Cons fund hire my private company, and I use the cash to hire additional staff to assist with these gigs?)”

Duffy then asks if he should have a separate meeting with “Marjory,” and then asking “Should I request a one on one with Stephen? To what end?” He signs off, “Mike, at home.”

The reciever advises Duffy to “keep the discussion with Irving.” He also said to charge the “fund” “So you don’t get into trouble or run out of points.”

“Points” probably refer to the 64-point system the senate uses to award travel costs.

The advisor ends the email saying “Don’t take a credit card, just expense to them,” which means don’t use the personal or senate-given credit cards. Deloitte used the senate-given credit card records to trace Duffy’s actions.

CBC contacted the people involved. Duffy responded, “I don’t golf and don’t have a record of any banquet.” Gerstein wasn’t available for an interview.

Conservative party spokesman Fred DeLorey said Duffy was never paid. “Any events Mr. Duffy participated in on behalf of the party would have been paid for by the party. The party does not pay Mr. Duffy compensation.”

Government Senate leader Marjory LeBreton had a fiery response, “It’s ridiculous. The idea that the prime minister or anyone would pass over elected members of the House of Commons and name Mike Duffy as a minister? It’s so ridiculous it’s not even funny. It’s totally bizarre. Who knows, who knows, but when I read it, when I read it — I don’t know who the recipient of the email was — but when I read it I went, like, there isn’t a chance of a snowball in hell of this ever happening, and I never spoke to him about it.”

Despite LeBreton’s claim, as soon as Harper was elected in 2006, he advised the Governor General to appoint Conservative fundraiser Michael Fortier to the Senate, and immediately name him as public works minister in the cabinet. Fortier was a Montreal business man and opted to represent the region until 2008, when he ran as a Conservative candidate and lost and was not reappointed to the senate.

CBC’s Power and Politics later asked Conservative MP Michelle Rempel what she thought of the matter and was met with , “I don’t even know where to start with this, it makes me so angry …These emails are the antithesis of how we function as a party.”

Rempel later said she knows colleagues who want to see Duffy resign.

“You know, some of my colleagues …have called for his resignation in the Senate. After hearing this story today, I’ve got to tell you, I couldn’t do anything but support that.” She added, “The prime minister himself has expressed deep regret for appointing Mike Duffy.”

It appears the advisor was helping Duffy go unnoticed as he would use his senate spot as a campaign platform for the Tories. What do you think of the leaked email?

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