Mike Duffy suing Senate, RCMP for $7.8M
Laura Payton and Rachel Aiello, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, August 24, 2017 1:05PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, August 25, 2017 9:20AM EDT
OTTAWA -- Sen. Mike Duffy is suing the Senate and the RCMP of Canada for nearly $8 million in lost income and general damages after he was suspended without pay during a trial that ultimately found him not guilty of fraud, breach of trust and bribery.
Duffy has hired Ottawa lawyer Lawrence Greenspon to represent him.
Greenspon says the Senate "acted unconstitutionally" and that the RCMP was negligent in its investigation.
Duffy is suing for:
- $6.5 million in general damages
- $1 million in punitive damages
- $300,000 in loss of income and benefits
- an unnamed sum of special damages.
"The conclusion that he and we came to was that he had to fight. He had to fight back," Greenspon said at a press conference Thursday.
"Mike has been through a very difficult four- or five-year period... His reputation for many Canadians doesn't take into account the fact that he's been completely absolved by a court decision."
The court found Duffy not guilty of all 31 charges against him, and strongly criticized the political machinations of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office.
Greenspon didn't rule out suing the Conservative Party, but said ultimately the damage to Duffy was caused by the Senate.
"The actions of the Senate in their resolution, in suspending/expelling Mike Duffy from [the] Senate are really the action, and the way that it was done, are really the actions that we are attacking," Greenspon said.
"That's what we're going after. The fact that members of the Senate were being influenced/directed by the Prime Minister's Office, that's their problem."
In a statement, Duffy pointed out Judge Charles Vaillancourt's ruling last year called him a credible witness whose conduct was reasonable and honest.
"Since then my lawyers and I have tried patiently to resolve matters with the Senate. The Conservatives still control the Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, (CIBA) and have shown they are not interested in correcting the unjustified actions taken against me by the Senate," Duffy said.
"The Harper Conservatives have left me with no choice but to go back to the courts for justice."
Duffy echoed Greenspon's argument that he's fighting this battle on behalf of everyone who works in Parliament.
"If this action succeeds in bringing Charter protections to all who work on Parliament Hill, this will be my greatest contribution to public life," Duffy said in the statement.
The Senate interim law clerk and a spokeswoman for the RCMP both declined to comment because the suit is before the court.
In addition to suing for the $7.8 million, Duffy is also seeking a declaration that his Charter rights have been violated, and recognition that the Senate or some of its members acted unconstitutionally, according to the statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court on Aug. 24.
In the 49-page statement of claim, Duffy cites "pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, including the loss of friendships and trust," as well as damage to his reputation, psychological impacts, and physical distress.
As part of the claim for lost income and benefits, Duffy cites the loss of salary, living allowance, and pension accrual over the time he was suspended from the Senate, as well the loss of potential speaking engagements.
In Duffy's presentation of facts within the claim, several high-profile Conservatives and staffers from the previous Conservative government were named directly, including Nigel Wright, then-chief of staff to prime minister Stephen Harper; Conservative Senator David Tkachuk; and then-leader of the government in the Senate and now former senator Marjory LeBreton.