Duffy initially planned to reject Senate offer
Published Tuesday, December 23, 2008 8:33AM EST
When news broke that Mike Duffy could be on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's list of possible Senate appointees, Duffy was sure he would turn down the job if it was offered.
The former CTV journalist and host of Mike Duffy Live said he had heard nothing from the Prime Minister's Office, and he was convinced the reports were mistaken and he wasn't being considered for a post.
A week later, on Saturday morning, the phone rang.
"I pick up the phone, it's the prime minister," Duffy told CTV's Canada AM. "He said what do you think about reforming the Senate? I said you've got to either kill it or cure it because it's not really functioning the way it is now. And he said well, would you be interested in being appointed?"
Duffy said he hemmed and hawed for a minute or two before he was talked into leaving journalism behind and accepting the $130,400-per-year position in the Red Chamber.
"I said 'I'm not much of a partisan.' He said 'We've got lots of partisans, we don't need any more partisans, what we need is people who believe in Senate reform. You believe in Senate reform and therefore that's what I'm looking for' and I said 'ok.'"
A front-page recently ran in a newspaper with a picture of Duffy as a possible contender. When that happened, Duffy said his wife Heather asked whether he would accept the job, if it was offered.
He said his initial response was 'no,' but the more he thought about it the more he opened up to the possibility.
In the end it was the thought of retiring from CTV in two or three years, and not having a creative outlet, that convinced him to change his mind.
He said he ran into two colleagues not long ago who had recently retired from journalism and felt frustrated with the sudden change in their lives.
"I thought 'Oh dear, I don't want to go there, I want to still be challenged,'" Duffy said. "So I thought 'What the heck. This is going to be a sure deal and there's going to be a lot to do and hopefully represent the people of P.E.I. well.'"
Another former CTV journalist, Pamela Wallin, was also appointed to the Senate. She also received a call from the prime minister, and they came to agreement on the need to reform the Senate and put partisanship aside and focus on the economy, amid the current global financial uncertainty.
She said a recent trip to Afghanistan, where she witnessed Canadian troops putting their lives on the line, helped drive home the importance of personal public service.
"You then want and need to make a contribution in some way. And I think this is an important responsibility we all have, and however we choose to do it we need to make a contribution to this country," Wallin, a former diplomat and host of Canada AM, said during an interview on the show Tuesday morning.
Monday's announcement represented the largest number of senators appointed in a single day throughout Canadian history.
Harper's 18 new picks -- which in addition to the two former TV broadcasters, included an Olympic champion skier and a number of former federal and provincial politicians -- brought the total number of Conservative Senators to 38.
Long-time Senator Marjory LeBreton told CTV that she was "delighted" to see her Tory peers gain greater representation within the Senate.
"Literally, today, our numbers in the Senate virtually doubled," she said on Monday.
Fourteen of these new senators, CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported, were Tory organizers, former politicians and in one case, a Conservative fundraiser.
After years of successive Liberal governments, the 105-seat Senate had been made up of 58 Grits and 20 Conservatives prior to today's announcement.
Prior to Monday, Harper had appointed only two senators during his time as prime minister.
Famed skier Nancy Greene Raine, winner of 13 World Cups and the Olympic gold for giant slalom in 1968, was also named to the Senate on Monday.