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Mike Duffy

The Honourable
Michael Duffy
Canadian Senator for Prince Edward Island
Assumed office
January 2, 2009
Personal details
Born Michael Dennis Duffy
(1946-05-27) May 27, 1946
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Political party Independent (2013-present)
Other political
Conservative (2009-2013)
Spouse(s) Nancy (div. 1979)
Heather (1992-present)[1]
Profession Television journalist

Michael Dennis "Mike" Duffy (born May 27, 1946) is a Canadian senator and former Canadian television journalist. Prior to his appointment to the upper house in 2008, he was the Ottawa editor for CTV News Channel. After resigning from the Conservative caucus on May 16, 2013, amid scandal,[2] Duffy sat in the Senate as an independent, representing Prince Edward Island, until the Senate voted on November 5, 2013, to suspend him without pay for two years.[3] In July 2014 he was charged with 31 criminal offenses including fraud, breach of trust and bribery.[4]

Early life and journalism career

Mike Duffy was born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. He was a high school dropout.[5] He became a ham radio operator at the age of 16. He began his career as a teen disc jockey at CFCY-TV in the mid-1960s. He moved to print journalism with The Guardian in Charlottetown, before heading to CFCF as a lineup and assignment editor in 1969, and in 1971 he joined CFRA radio in Ottawa as a political reporter.

Duffy joined CBC radio's Parliament Hill bureau in 1974, and became a reporter for The National in 1977. Duffy became the lead CBC television reporter on Parliament Hill and covered most of the important federal stories of the Trudeau, Clark and Mulroney governments. Duffy is primarily known for his work as an Ottawa journalist, but he has been a foreign correspondent. He covered the fall of South Vietnam in April 1975 for the CBC and was one of the last journalists to leave Saigon before the arrival of North Vietnamese troops and Viet Cong insurgents.

In 1988, Duffy joined Baton Broadcasting as the first host of its Sunday morning news program Sunday Edition. When that series ended in 1999, Duffy moved to his role as a show host and interviewer with CTV Newsnet (now the CTV News Channel). Long known as an "Ottawa insider", he was able to get many elected officials to appear on his programs. Duffy hosted two programs on CTV Newsnet, Countdown with Mike Duffy and Mike Duffy Live. The latter program was broadcast from Parliament Hill and featured interviews with prominent Canadian political figures and commentators. Upon Duffy's departure for the Senate, CTV Newsnet temporarily renamed the program On the Hill and installed Graham Richardson as the host. On the Hill ran for one month before being permanently replaced with Power Play.

In the 1990s, Duffy sued Frank magazine for defamation. Duffy claimed that the magazine's satirical attacks against him cost him the Order of Canada.[6][7]

Bias in 2008 Federal Election

In 2008, a panel of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled that Duffy had violated broadcasting codes and ethics during the 2008 federal election. The panel concluded that Duffy's decision to air "false starts" of an interview with then-Liberal leader Stéphane Dion "was not fair, balanced, or even handed" and that during the same broadcast, Duffy "significantly misrepresented the view of one of the three members of his Panel...Liberal MP Geoff Regan".[8]

Awards and honours

In 1986 he won an ACTRA Award for live television reporting, for his coverage of the 1985 Turkish embassy attack in Ottawa by the Armenian Revolutionary Army.[9] In 1994, Duffy was inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.[9][10]

Duffy has received honorary degrees from the University of Prince Edward Island, as well as Wilfrid Laurier University and from Niagara University in Niagara Falls, New York.[11] He has been a visiting fellow at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina, and has been twice nominated for the "best in the business" award by the Washington Journalism Review.[11]

In 2002, he was awarded the Golden Jubilee Medal by the Chancellery of Honours of Canada.[12]

Political career

On December 22, 2008, Duffy was named a Prince Edward Island representative to the Senate of Canada on the advice of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, sitting as a Conservative.[11][13] He subsequently retired as a TV journalist at the end of 2008. He was introduced to Senate, along with, among 17 others, Pamela Wallin, Patrick Brazeau and Irving Gerstein, by Marjory LeBreton, then Leader of the Government in Senate, on 26 January 2009 immediately prior to the Speech from the Throne.[14]

In March 2010, Duffy criticized the University of King's College and other journalism schools in Canada for teaching Noam Chomsky and critical thinking. He went on to say that journalism schools in Canada were churning out leftists who thought private enterprise was bad. The head of King's School of Journalism reacted with surprise to Duffy's criticism, saying that Manufacturing Consent was not part of the curriculum. She also said she would not apologize for teaching critical thinking to journalism students.[15] A number of editorial comments were written in response to Duffy's criticism.[16][17][18]

Expenses controversy

In 2012, Duffy was one of four senators accused of claiming [25]

On February 28, 2013, the Senate Committee on the Internal Economy announced that Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Mac Harb, and Patrick Brazeau would be subject to a forensic audit to determine appropriateness of their expense claims.[26]

PMO involvement

After several weeks of negative public attention Duffy volunteered to pay back the expenses he had claimed for his Ottawa residence, blaming what he called the Senate's unclear rules and forms for the affair saying, "We are going to pay it back, and until the rules are clear—and they're not clear now, the forms are not clear, and I hope the Senate will redo the forms to make them clear—I will not claim the housing allowance."[27][28]

Duffy originally expected the Prime Minister's Office to cover all expenses he claimed improperly.[29] In late February 2013, it was alleged that special counsel and legal adviser Benjamin Perrin drafted a letter of understanding between Chief of Staff of the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada, Nigel Wright and Duffy.[30] Perrin denied involvement in a May 2013 statement.[31][32] Wright then wrote a personal cheque to Duffy for $90,172 to cover past residency expenses claimed as part of the agreement with the PMO. A Conservative Party spokesman confirmed the money was a gift with no expectation of repayment.[33] Duffy then repaid the Government of Canada $90,172 in March 2013 for expenses previously claimed.

After repayment Duffy refused to meet with independent auditors or supply financial records, credit card statements and information about his calendar related to the investigation. Duffy's lawyer claimed that since the money had been reimbursed "Senator Duffy's participation in the review of the requested information was no longer needed."[34][35]

Reaction to expense controversy

In May 2013, the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner of Canada confirmed it was investigating Wright's gift of $90,172 to Duffy.[34] Duffy resigned from the Conservative caucus on May 16, 2013, and became an independent senator.[36] On November 5, 2013 the Senate voted to suspend Duffy without pay for two years.[3]

RCMP investigation

In late May 2013 a report heard by the Senate Committee on the Internal Economy acknowledged Duffy had a pattern of spending that required RCMP investigation. When campaigning for Conservative candidates during the 2011 general election Duffy claimed Senate expenses, which is not allowed by Senate expense rules. While on vacation in PEI during August 2012 Duffy claimed per diem expenses although he was not on senate business. Previous expenses Duffy claimed while on vacation in Florida had been repaid; Duffy issued a statement saying a temporary worker had made a mistake filling out the forms. Although the Florida vacation funds were repaid the committee acknowledged the claim was "not an isolated incident, but represents a pattern that raises concerns."[37]

Criminal Charges

In July 2014 Duffy was charged with 31 offenses including fraud, breach of trust and bribery. He was charged with fraud and breach of trust in relation to $90,000 in expenses that he claimed inappropriately as a senator. Eighteen charges were laid in relation to $50,000 in personal and partisan travel expenses which Duffy claimed as a senator. A further eight charges of fraud and breach of trust were laid in relation to the alleged misuse of $60,000 in public funds for consulting contracts.[38] The bribery charge is in relation to a bribe he allegedly received from Nigel Wright, Stephen Harper's then chief of staff.[39] Duffy faces up to 14 years in prison if convicted of the most serious offenses.[39]

Personal life

Legal issues

Duffy had legal issues prior to the senate expense scandal. In 1990 he pleaded guilty to a charge of impaired driving.[5] He also lost a Tax Court case over more than $27,000 he attempted to claim as business expenses.[5]


Duffy divorced his first wife in 1979. He married his second wife, Heather Collins, in 1992.[5]

In July 2014 a Peruvian woman named Karen Duffy claimed to be Mike Duffy's daughter.[40] She alleged that Mike Duffy had an affair with her mother, Yvette Benites Ruiz, a convicted drug mule who served prison time in Kingston, Ontario and at a halfway house in Ottawa.[40] Ruiz allegedly met Mike Duffy through his sister who was also serving time.[41]

After years of unsuccessfully attempting to contact Mike Duffy, Karen Duffy filed a suit in Peruvian court seeking to have him recognized as her father.[40] Later on July 20, 2014, Karen Duffy appeared on Punto Final, a weekly current affairs program on the Peruvian Frecuencia Latina network in a segment titled "Mi Padre El Senador" (which translates to "My Father the Senator" in English).[42] She told the program she still hopes the suspended senator will respond to the lawsuit she filed seeking his recognition.[43] Initially Mike Duffy claimed that these allegations were false.[40]

A week after making this denial Mike Duffy reached out to Karen Duffy on Facebook.[44] Yvette Benites Ruiz told Toronto Sun that Mike Duffy has acknowledged Karen Duffy's paternity claim and that he is talking to his daughter daily.[41] When asked to respond to this claim Mike Duffy only told QMI Agency "leave it alone. This is a good thing."[41]


Duffy was diagnosed with diabetes in 1989.[5] In 1992 he had a mild heart attack. He had bypass surgery twice, in 2007 and in 2013.[5]


  1. ^ Prime Minister Stephen Harper appoints Mike Duffy to the Senate of Canada on YouTube
  2. ^ "Senator Mike Duffy quits Tory caucus". CBC News. May 16, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Jordan Press; Andrea Hill (November 6, 2013). "Senate warns others about expenses as it votes to suspend Wallin, Duffy and Brazeau (with video)". Edmonton Journal. Archived from the original on Dec 28, 2013. 
  4. ^ RCMP lay 31 criminal charges against Senator Mike Duffy | Toronto Star
  5. ^ a b c d e f ‘A desire to be somebody’: Mike Duffy’s rise from high school dropout to ‘the Old Duff’ of Ottawa’s power elite | National Post
  6. ^ Smith, Charlie (December 22, 2008). "Mike Duffy missed the Order of Canada, but the Senate pays better". Georgia Straight. Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Frank magazine goes belly up". CBC. December 20, 2004. Archived from the original on February 8, 2007. 
  8. ^ National Specialty Services Panel (April 6, 2009). "CBSC Decisions". CBSC. Retrieved September 9, 2010. 
  9. ^ a b "Canadian Communications Foundation: Biographies–Duffy, Michael D.".  
  10. ^ "CAB Hall of Fame Awards".  
  11. ^ a b c "Backgrounder - List of new Senators" (Press release).  
  12. ^ "Find a Recipient".  
  13. ^ "Prime minister fills 18 vacant Senate seats". CTV News. December 22, 2008. Retrieved December 22, 2008. 
  14. ^ Debates of the Senate (Hansard) 2nd Session, 40th Parliament, Volume 146, Issue 1 Monday, January 26, 2009
  15. ^ McLeod, Paul (March 16, 2010). "Mike Duffy slams journalism schools for thinking critically | Metro". Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  16. ^ Kimber, Stephen (March 19, 2010). "Who are you and what have you done with Mike Duffy? | Metro". Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  17. ^ Capstick, Ian (March 16, 2010). "Duffy dumps on j-schools, jumps the shark » MediaStyle". Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ Payton, Laura (February 4, 2013). "P.E.I. Senator Mike Duffy under fire for living expenses". CBC News. Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  20. ^ MacKinnon, Leslie (February 8, 2013). "Senate announces outside audit for 3 senators". CBC News. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  21. ^ MacDonald, Mitch (February 9, 2013). "Duffy's 'neighbours' in P.E.I. say they haven't seen the senator". Toronto Star. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  22. ^ Campion-Smith, Bruce (February 25, 2013). "Sen. Mike Duffy's repayment tab could approach $90,000". Toronto Star. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  23. ^ McGregor, Glen (February 3, 2013). "Duffy’s office tried to fast-track P.E.I. health card application". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  24. ^ Taber, Jane (February 9, 2013). "PEI Senator Mike Duffy uses Ontario health card, raising new residency questions". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  25. ^ Tutton, Michael (February 6, 2013). "Senator Mike Duffy takes kitchen exit as reporters seek answers on residence". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved February 7, 2013. 
  26. ^ Payton, Laura (February 28, 2013). "Senator Mike Duffy declared eligible for P.E.I. seat: 4 senators subject to further spending audit as probe wraps". CBC News. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  27. ^ Payton, Laura (February 22, 2013). "Mike Duffy to repay expenses claimed for Ottawa home". CBC News. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  28. ^ Harper, Tim (February 25, 2013). "Mike Duffy's housing allowance sideshow deconstructed—80 days to a non-apology". Toronto Star. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  29. ^ "Mike Duffy made secret deal with Harper's chief of staff during audit". CTV News. May 15, 2013. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  30. ^ Janus, Andrea (May 20, 2013). "PM's former legal adviser arranged deal for Wright to give Duffy $90K". CTV News. Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  31. ^ Woodford, Shane (May 21, 2013). "'"UBC Law Professor says media story 'false. Vancouver, BC: CKNW. Retrieved May 22, 2013. 
  32. ^ Uechi, Jenny (May 21, 2013). "'"Benjamin Perrin says story about involvement in Duffy money transfer deal was 'false. Vancouver Observer. Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  33. ^ Fitzpatrick, Meagan; MacKinnon, Leslie (May 15, 2013). "PM's chief of staff paid off Mike Duffy's Senate expenses". CBC News. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  34. ^ a b Campion-Smith, Bruce (May 15, 2013). "Senate expenses: Ethics watchdog reviewing $90,000 payment to Mike Duffy". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  35. ^ "What we know about Mike Duffy and the $90,172 repayment". Maclean's. Canadian Press. May 16, 2013. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  36. ^ "Sen. Mike Duffy quits Conservative caucus over expenses". CityNews (Toronto). May 17, 2013. 
  37. ^ CBC News (2013). "Mike Duffy expense claims sent to RCMP by Senate committee - Politics - CBC News". Retrieved May 29, 2013. 'not an isolated incident, but represents a pattern that raises concerns.' 
  38. ^ Campion-Smith, Bruce (18 July 2014). "RCMP lay 31 criminal charges against Senator Mike Duffy". Toronto Star (Toronto Star). Ottawa Bureau. Retrieved 18 July 2014. 
  39. ^ a b Mike Duffy charged Senate to attend personal funerals, RCMP say - Politics - CBC News
  40. ^ a b c d Jonathon Gatehouse; Melinda Maldonado (July 15, 2014). "Woman claims to be Mike Duffy’s unacknowledged child". 
  41. ^ a b c Mark Dunn (July 23, 2014). "Mike Duffy acknowledged Peruvian woman's paternity claim, says mom". Toronto Sun. (subscription required (help)). 
  42. ^ Melinda Maldonado (July 21, 2014). "Karen Duffy tells her story on Peruvian TV". 
  43. ^ "Empresaria peruana busca que senador canadiense la reconozca como hija" [Peruvian businesswoman seeks to recognize Canadian senator like daughter]. Frecuencia Latina (in Español). 20 July 2014. 
  44. ^ Jonathon Gatehouse (July 22, 2014). "Peruvian woman says she's heard from Mike Duffy". 

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