Why Mike Duffy will likely win on the “residency” allegations in court

I used to be the courts and cops reporter for the Ottawa Citizen. I watched Don Bayne do his thing, up close, many times. When Mike Duffy made the decision to retain Bayne, he made a very smart decision.

Here’s just one reason why. In his cross with the Senate bureaucrat offered up by the Crown, Bayne inserts the first reasonable doubt – that is, Duffy needed to only own land in the place he represented. He didn’t actually need to live there.

“Mark Audcent, retired Senate law clerk, testified for the Crown that residence is a question of “fact.” He suggested it could be determined by a “whole package” of facts, like where you have a home, where your family lives, where you vote, where you pay your taxes, where you get government services like a driver’s licence, or health coverage.

But he agreed under cross-examination by Duffy’s lawyer, Donald Bayne, that the Senate never set out clear definitions of “primary” or “secondary” residence, never defined residence for the purpose of determining eligibility to hold a seat in the upper chamber, nor for seeking payment of expense claims.

Bayne suggested repeatedly Duffy had no other choice — Senate rules, policies and guidelines all but required him to declare the P.E.I. cottage as his “primary” residence or risk losing his seat — because the Constitution required all senators to be resident in the province they represent.

Audcent agreed there is a “danger” of a senator losing his seat if he fails to hold property or be resident of the province he represents. He also agreed the $100,000 worth of renovations Duffy poured into his P.E.I. cottage showed a “commitment” to that residence.

…To bolster his argument that Duffy made his declarations in “good faith”, Bayne highlighted a memo from office of the Conservative government leader in the Senate, Marjory Lebreton, to “rookie” senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin (also now facing police investigation over her travel claims.)

Written by Lebreton’s policy adviser Christopher McCreery, it suggested they needn’t worry about “disqualification.”

“I checked all of the authorities on the senate and residency is not defined,” McCreery wrote. “My interpretation is . . . that so long as a senator owns property in his or her province of appointment then they are allowed to sit as a senator from that province, even if they live in Ottawa 99 per cent of the time.”

SFH: Eighties Dance Song

Many, many of you have asked what goes on every Thursday night at the SFH studio sessions.

Well, okay, none of you have asked that, ever, but let’s imagine for a moment that a few of you had.  And, equally, let’s imagine that you had said: “O Warren, in those regular get-togethers at the summit of god-like creative genius that is SFH, what do you do, pray tell?”

Well, here’s what we do, shot on my iPhone device.  We have abandoned punk rock, and now play only GYDDPP – German-Yiddish Derivative Dance Punk Pop.  Here is our Eighties Dance Song,’ which is going to be bigger than the Beatles and Jesus. When we are famous and rich, I will not pose for selfies with you, nor acknowledge that I once knew you.

Jim Prentice is in third place

So says one poll, here.

So here’s what I say about why that may be so. From my speech to Alberta Liberals, this weekend, and the Hill Times, next week:

“[Prentice’s budget] is a barf bag of incoherence. It raises taxes and user fees, and it slashes government services – all at the same time. It tries to appease fiscal conservatives and fiscal spendthrifts, but has only succeeded in enraging both. It is the legislative equivalent of sucking and blowing simultaneously. And Albertans do not – do not – like it.”

Amazing things are happening in Alberta, this Spring. Pay attention. 

The power of journalism, and Walter Scott

Growing up, I just wanted to be a reporter. That’s all. I started my own newspaper when I was nine; I worked at them all through elementary school, junior high school, high school, university and the Bar Admission course. I’ve been a reporter at the Ottawa Citizen and the The Calgary Herald, and a columnist at the National Post, the Citizen and the Sun papers. I loved to read them, I loved to write for them. I even loved the smell of them.

They’re dying, of course, mainly because the ways in which we receive information has so fundamentally changed – and because journalists usually aren’t very good at running businesses. But that doesn’t mean that bloggers, or social media enthusiasts, are going to ever supplant real journalists. Bloggers and the like, as I’ve said many times, merely comment on the work of real reporters. They don’t have the resources or the skills to do what journalists do.

The front page of today’s New York Times, below, does what journalism is supposed to do: it points out something that is important, and forces us to consider it – and, ideally, change the way we do things.

What happened to Walter Scott, as I wrote below, was indisputably murder. And the front page of today’s New York Times is indisputably journalism.


In this week’s Hill Times: do you detest her as much as I do?

In the long and storied history of Canadian politics, has there been anything – anything at all – as consistently disgusting and repellant and loathsome as the Canadian Senate? Has there been any political institution that has been so deserving of being dragged into the public square, and executed for all to see?  Ask yourself: is there?
No.  No, there isn’t.  
And rest assured, Senators, as you slouch in the Air Canada lounge, delicately clutching the Hill Times or some other paper in your manicured digits, waiting to board a flight back to the patch of dirt you claim to “represent” – Canadians intensely despise the institution to which you belong.  And, in large measure, Canadians despise many of you, too.
Bob Fife’s revelation that not a few of you have had your snouts wedged in the Parliamentary expense trough is, really, not news.  All of us had been expecting that particular blister to burst for, say, the past 148 years.  Still, Fife’s report that at least 40 of you have received letters from Auditor General Michael Ferguson about “questionable expense claims” – with many more such letters about to be popped in the mail – well, wow.  Fife’s reporting, always among the best on the Hill, suggested that the Senate – already writhing in the feral ooze at the bottom of some primordial pit – was about to slither downward to uncharted depths.
As CTV’s Fife reported: “Sources said former Liberal senator Rose-Marie Losier-Cool has been asked to account for about $100,000. When CTV News contacted her by phone, she refused to comment and hung up.”
Tidbits like these enrage average Canadians, to be sure.  But, take heart, enraged Canadians: the Senate will now indeed be killed off, and justly so.  And it will be killed off not by us, but by the Senators themselves.
The senatorial parade of sleaze and shame can’t be captured in a single opinion column – it would take up too many words.  But some notables merit quick mention: Senate Mike Duffy, of course, commencing trial this week on a multiplicity of charges.  Senator Pamela Wallin and Senator Patrick Brazeau and departed Senator Mac Harb, all currently facing charges and/or police investigations. Ex-Senator Raymond Lavigne, convicted of fraud and breach of trust.  Former Senator Michel Cogger, whose misadventures occupied the legal system for a decade.  Senator Eric Berntson, resigned, who was sentenced to a year in prison for illegally diverting government allowances. The departed Andrew Thompson, who lived in Mexico, but who always made certain to show up in the Senate often enough to draw a salary. And so on and so on.
Above all of these, however, stands Senator Nancy Ruth Rowell Jackman.  That’s the name she was born with, you see, but she prefers that we call her “Nancy Ruth.” Paul Martin appointed her more than a decade ago, but she was a Conservative.
She dropped the Jackman part, which perhaps makes it easier to forget that her brother is Hal Jackman, formerly bagman-in-chief for the Ontario PC Party.  Or that her father was Harry Jackman, another uber-rich Conservative from Toronto who dabbled in politics.  They were rich, rich, rich.
And rich Nancy Ruth Rowell Jackman is and was.  She made a couple dilettantish runs for the Ontario Conservatives in the Nineties.  On one occasion, the provincial Liberals produced a cheeky flyer about her, and it contained some gems – as well as some of her bon mots, neatly illustrating her worldview.  
Thus, we learned that she grew up in a 9,000-square-foot mansion, with a cook, a maid, a nanny, a seamstress and even someone to do the laundry.  One time, she went into town to run some errands, and came back with a shiny new Mercedes.  Private girls’ school Branksome Hall behind her, she started thinking about university.  “I guess it was arrogance,” Nancy allowed, “but I wasn’t really aware that going to university had anything to do with school marks.”
Living on her family’s millions didn’t bother.  “It was my due,” said she.
This week, of course, Nancy Ruth Rowell Jackman rocketed into the public consciousness when asked about the Auditor General’s question to her: namely, why not eat free airline food when it is offered?  Why expense something else?
Sniffed the Senator, in a quote that will live forever in infamy:  “Well, those (airline) breakfasts are pretty awful. If you want ice-cold Camembert with broken crackers, have it.”
The AG’s auditors, she added, don’t “understand anything of what it’s like to fly around the world to get here to Ottawa.”
Senator Nancy Ruth Rowell Jackman, a weary nation thanks you.  With your arrogance, with your appalling condescension and contempt, you have done more to hasten the Senate’s demise than anyone before you.
That takes some doing, “Nancy Ruth,” but you did it. Congratulations.

The Daily Beast: Bloombergian

Shinan’s dispatch from the front in Tee Dot. Fun writing here.

John Tory, a placid, Bloombergian figure who hails from one of Canada’s establishment clans, eventually grabbed the prize, but not without one perennial gum stuck to his shoe—Rob Ford ran for, and hung on to, his former council seat! 

John Tory won, but he still acts like he is still running against Rob Ford. And it makes John Tory look like a sore winner.” That’s how pundit Warren Kinsella, a ceaseless critic of the current mayor, characterizes the psycho-dynamics at City Hall to me. 

 In classically good-natured Toronto—the aw-shucks city where Joni Mitchell once busked on the streets, Mike Myers honed his yuk-yuks, and Marshall McLuhan coined the term “global village”—there remain remnants of a downtown-suburban class-divide that Ford embodied, leveraged, and exploited. And it’s true enough that the metropolis is still wrapping its head around the legacy of the last four years. 

 “They don’t speak,” a close aide to Tory mentioned recently, speaking to the frost between the mayors, current and present. (A relationship complicated, no doubt, by the fact that Tory was an un-shy booster of Ford, during the 2010 civic elections.) 

Video of a cold-blooded murder

Unlike the Ferguson, Missouri cold-blooded murder of Michael Brown, this cold-blooded murder has been entirely caught on video – and it shows a black man, Walter Scott, running from a white cop, Michael Slager.  Who shoots the unarmed Scott in the back multiple times. And kills him.

This was murder, and that is what the charge is.  If the video didn’t exist, I have no doubt that it would have been Ferguson all over again.

Warning: this is unedited video, and it shows it all.

Dear Alberta Liberals

You were the first political party I joined, back in 1980. I did so because you were the only sane political party around.

Thirty-five years later, you still are.

  • Wildrose will sell itself for a few trinkets, and think government shouldn’t do anything.
  • The NDP hate Alberta’s main job-creator, and think government should do everything.
  • And the Prentice PCs? They’ve lost their way. They don’t have any values.  And they couldn’t communicate their way out of a wet paper bag.

I’ll be with you this weekend in Edmonton, pitching for change – not radical change, like Wildrose and the NDP favour.  Smart, sensible change – change away from a governing PC party that has become cynical and corrupt and complacent.

More details are here.  There’ll be a talk on Saturday night, and a private seminar on running the best possible war room on Sunday morning.  I look forward to meeting each and every one of you!