April 17, 2015 - 7:26 PM
OTTAWA - A cheque for a service Mike Duffy never used and another for a service he was never asked to pay for came under scrutiny Friday at the suspended senator's trial.
Court was told that Duffy didn't know he'd been signed up to receive Atlantic Canada research reports by caucus colleague Sen. Percy Mockler, whose plan was to split the $5,000 subscription fee with four other senators.
When Elisabeth Brouse, a former vice president of the analysis firm MQO Research, sent a letter welcoming Duffy and the other senators to the service in 2012, she got a surprised reaction.
"What the heck is this?" Duffy asked in an email.
She phoned him and explained and he told her to make sure the Senate got the invoice for his share of the bill by the end of March 2012.
It was sent, but Duffy never paid. The company tried to follow up, but when it was found that Duffy had never logged in to access the reports, he was told he shouldn't feel compelled to pay the bill.
He did anyway, asking first that the company re-date the invoice to July because otherwise there was "no way" the Senate would pay. He then sent a cheque for $1,054.66 issued by a firm run by Gerald Donohue, a Duffy friend who operated two companies that allegedly helped Duffy get around Senate rules.
Cheques issued from Donohue's companies are the basis for several of the fraud and breach of trust charges faced by Duffy.
Another cheque, this one for $500, was issued to journalist, author and now law student Mark Bourrie, who first met Duffy in the 1990s when he was a CTV reporter.
Bourrie told the court that after Duffy was appointed to the Senate, he kept in touch. He learned of a problem the senator was having with anonymous commentators on sites like Wikipedia and YouTube trashing his reputation.
Bourrie said he looked into the sites' policies on getting that type of material taken down, but kept telling Duffy he'd need a lawyer to do anything about it.
"If I had known that this was ever going to be anything of any interest to anybody else, I'd have made notes or kept a record of it, but at the time it's basically a friend calling up and saying, or emailing and saying, 'Look at this,'" Bourrie said.
Bourrie's wife was a lawyer, but wasn't involved in the exchanges, he testified. He said she wasn't set up to actually provide legal advice. Nonetheless, a cheque made out to her from one of Donohue's companies arrived in the mail, unsolicited.
Bourrie said it was never cashed and he told Duffy not to send another as his wife had done no work.
"It came up over and over again," Bourrie said. "He may not be the best listener in the world."
Another $500 cheque from Maple Ridge Media arrived, this time addressed to Bourrie directly. He deposited it.
Duffy has pleaded not guilty to 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery. The trial was initially expected to last 41 days but earlier this week the judge suggested it's likely to go much longer.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2015