Thursday, December 22, 2011

"The Duffinator!" is back for more!

Good Day Readers: Had a pre-recorded voice mail message from "The Supplier" during the last election campaign extolling the virtues of our Member of Parliament Shelly Glover. After listening to it (God his lousy French hurt our ears!) any hope Ms Glover had of garnering our vote immediately evaporated, in fact, it was all we could do not to become violently ill.
Had we been her we'd have paid him to stay out of the Riding!

Here's what's inherently unfair. Currently, there are 54 Conservative, 41 Liberal, 2 Independent and 1 Progressive Conservative Senators - 7 Senatorships are vacant. Potentially, every Party, except for the NDP, could designate each of their Senators' a "Supplier" and receive at least some taxpayer reimbursement.

It's surprising no one has legally challenged Elections Canada on this issue.

Clare L. Pieuk
Tories to be reimbursed for Senator Duffy's campaign appearances

By Glen McGregor
Thursday, December 22, 2011 The Conservatives will receive rebates for the cost of sending Senator Mike Duffy out to promote the Party’s candidates during the spring election. (Photograph by Rod MacIvor/Ottawa Citizen)

OTTAWA — The Conservatives will receive taxpayer-funded rebates for the cost of sending Senator Mike Duffy out to promote the party's candidates at campaign events across the country during the spring election.

Finance returns filed with Elections Canada show Duffy was listed as a "supplier" of services to Conservative candidates' campaigns in Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the Northwest Territories.

The campaigns paid Duffy amounts ranging from $100 to $409 for hotel costs when he appeared at events in their ridings.

Duffy's office says the Party's national campaign paid the additional costs of travelling to and from the appearances.

Any candidate who receives more than 10 per cent of the vote can claim a reimbursement of eligible campaign expenses.

Eleven Conservative campaigns listed a Mike or Michael Duffy as supplier. Under Elections Canada rules, taxpayers will be required to rebate nearly $1,600 of the $2,657 the local campaigns paid for these costs.

The Tories will also be able to claim reimbursement for 50 per cent of the costs of Duffy's airfare and other travel expenses his office says was out of the Party's national campaign budget. The exact amount of those costs is not known as Elections Canada provides only general breakdowns of party campaign spending.

The Tories spent a total of $29,700 on travel other than Prime Minister Stephen Harper's tour, their return shows.

The Ottawa Citizen was unable to find any record of other Senators billing for costs in the election returns filed to date with the elections agency. Duffy's Senate caucus colleague, Marjory LeBreton, travelled on Harper's plane.

Duffy could not be reached for comment, but a staff member in his Ottawa office said the costs of travelling to the various campaign events were paid by the party and not from his Senate travel budget.

"The national Party paid for his airline ticket and accommodation was provided by the local riding association," said aide Diane Scharf. "No other expenses were incurred that he recalls."

Party spokesman Fred DeLorey said Duffy was not paid any fees to attend events and said no Senate resources were used.

"During the campaign, Senator Duffy was very helpful and went where he was asked to go, by both national and local campaigns," DeLorey said in an email.

Among Duffy's whistle-stops was a trip to Yellowknife to support Conservative candidate Sandy Lee in her riding of Western Arctic. That event proved controversial as a local radio station claimed it had been refused an interview unless it submitted a written list of questions in advance.

The Lee campaign paid Duffy $209 under the category of "miscellaneous expenses or non-candidate travel."

She lost out in the May 2 vote to incumbent New Democrat Dennis Bevington.

Elections Canada records show several Conservative campaigns in Nova Scotia paid Duffy for expenses. Incumbent Conservative Gerald Keddy skipped an all-candidates debate to attend a fundraiser with Duffy during the campaign, according to news reports. The Keddy campaign listed a $303 expense for Mike Duffy.

And four days before the vote, Duffy hosted a $135-a-plate fundraiser in Mississauga, Ontario for local Conservative candidate Wladyslaw Lizon, whose campaign claimed a $169 cost in his name.

Both Lizon and Keddy were elected.

According to Elections Canada returns, other candidates who listed a Mike Duffy as supplier included Scott Armstrong, Greg Kerr and David Morse in Nova Scotia; Tippy O'Neill Gordon and Rodney Weston in New Brunswick; and Joe Oliver, Harold Carmichael and Gin Siow in the Toronto area.

A longtime broadcaster on CBC and CTV, Duffy, 65, was appointed to the Senate by Harper in 2008.

He will earn a base salary of $132,000 until his scheduled retirement in the year 2021.


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