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Trivial pursuit or Balderdash: Duffy floods the court with details in his defence

Former Conservative Senator Mike Duffy, right, is depicted speaking on the stand in a courtoom illustration as Crown Jason Neubauer, left, and Mark Holmes look on.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
December 12, 2015 - 7:00 AM

OTTAWA - A word to the wise: Don't go up against Sen. Mike Duffy in a game of Trivial Pursuit ... or Balderdash, just to be sure.

As the week, and his fourth day of testimony, wound to a close, the senator managed to nearly drown the courtroom in a flood of small details, recollections and historical observations.

On Friday alone, the court heard:

— How a Canadian intelligence agent from Prince Edward Island might have partly inspired the character of James Bond;

— How sewage problems in the Charlottetown harbour affected local fishermen;

— That a musician from Prince Edward Island was in songstress Anne Murray's band and also sold Yamaha music equipment around Atlantic Canada;

— That just getting considered as a Canadian supplier for aerospace giant Boeing could cost millions of dollars.

Duffy has pleaded not guilty to 31 counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery.

A number of the charges reflect travel expenses and the detailed testimony, recounted in the former broadcaster's conversational style, was designed to rebut the Crown's case on a number of trips Duffy billed to the Senate, including attendance at a series of P.E.I. funerals.

Duffy's defence is that the deceased should be considered VIPs and their funerals, therefore, worthy of the attendance of the local senator.

Moreover, Duffy says he met other individuals on public business during those same trips to Charlottetown.

While attending a funeral in 2012, he said he also met someone with whom he had been discussing potential spinoff contracts linked to the aerospace industry. That elicited approximately a half-hour of testimony.

Of all the witnesses who have taken the stand, Duffy appears to have the most vivid memory of events that took place between 2008 and 2012. He recorded in his daily diaries details of who he met, who he spoke to on the phone and other specifics about what was going on in his life and in politics in general.

But Duffy's exhaustive accounts of past events don't always match up with those of other witnesses who testified earlier.

For instance, former Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro said Duffy went to his riding in 2010 to attend a dog show and the two met for coffee on the side. Duffy's version is that he was there at Del Mastro's suggestion to meet with a local radio station and when that fell through, he said Del Mastro talked to him about an idea for a Conservative TV show — the dog show being an unplanned side trip.

Earlier this week, Duffy said former MP Gary Lunn cancelled a Vancouver Island appearance with the senator the night before the event. Lunn testified that it was scrubbed weeks before.

It will be left to the Crown attorneys next week to try to highlight any inconsistencies and for Justice Charles Vaillancourt later to sift the mountains of trivia for relevant nuggets.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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