Mike Duffy trial adjourns until November
Published Tuesday, August 25, 2015 7:41AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 10:04PM EDT
The trial of embattled Sen. Mike Duffy, which has dogged Conservative Leader Stephen Harper on the election campaign trail, has adjourned until November – after the Oct. 19 vote.
The trial was expected to continue until the end of the week, but Judge Charles Vaillancourt said Tuesday afternoon that the trial would be adjourned until Nov. 18.
The adjournment is needed because the prosecutors had already scheduled another separate trial during the last two weeks of October.
Gerald Donohue, a friend of Duffy’s who received allegedly fraudulent Senate contracts, was expected to be called to the stand this week. But defence lawyer Donald Bayne said he is dealing with a personal matter.
Earlier Tuesday, former PMO staffer Chris Woodcock was on the stand for a second day of testimony, facing more questions from Bayne.
Bayne asked Woodcock about the so-called “mistake-repay” scenario – the alleged plan by the Prime Minister’s Office to have Duffy admit he made a mistake when he claimed thousands in living and travel expenses, and then have him repay those expenses.
Woodcock told the court there was an effort to persuade Duffy to follow that plan.
Bayne also asked Woodcock about his statement to the RCMP in which he said that the focus was on Duffy, because he was the one senator whose spending practices were most in the headlines.
“Duffy was the one that we had to force him, to convince, to persuade, to go out to repay,” Woodcock told police.
Bayne asked Woodcock why Duffy needed to be “forced,” given Woodcock’s own testimony Monday that his work with Duffy was “very collaborative.”
Woodcock responded he uses the word “force” interchangeably with the words “convince” or “persuade.”
In his defence, Bayne has been attempting to show that Duffy accepted a $90,000 cheque from former chief of staff Nigel Wright because he was pressured by the PMO to do so -- all so the scandal’s political damage could be limited.
The Crown’s position is that Duffy was “at least an equal partner in this arrangement” to accept Wright’s money, “if not the instigator and the principal party involved in this negotiation,” as Crown prosecutor Mark Holmes said on the first day of trial back in April.
Tuesday’s questioning followed an often-tense Monday on the stand for Woodcock.
On Monday, Woodcock told the court he didn't realize that former PMO chief of staff Nigel Wright had written a personal cheque to Duffy to cover the expenses until the news story broke several weeks later.
That was despite the fact that Woodcock had received a short email from Wright in February as the crisis was unfolding that read: “For you only: I am personally covering Duffy's $90K.”
Woodcock, who was head of issues management in the PMO at the time, said he only learned it was Wright who had helped cover the $90,000 payment when CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife broke the news in May.
Bayne appeared incredulous that Woodcock could have missed such an important note.
Woodcock replied that he read the first paragraph of the email but must have missed that crucial line about the payment. He explained that missing messages is a "fact of life when you receive 700 to 1,000 emails a day."
“It is absolutely common that I would open an email, I would scan that email, I would extract the information that I needed and I would move on,” Woodcock said.
Harper's current chief of staff, Ray Novak, has also denied through a spokesperson that he read an email from Wright explicitly telling him about the repayment.
Nick Koolsbergen, Harper’s current issues management director, has been spotted in the courtroom during Duffy’s trial this week, dressed down in a hoodie.
Harper’s spokesperson, Kory Teneycke, said that Koolsbergen was there to inform Harper about what was happening in court.
Koolsbergen was spotted conferring with Woodcock in the hallways during breaks in testimony.
Duffy is facing 31 charges, including bribery, fraud and breach of trust. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
With a report from CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife
Here's a recap of Day 46 of the Mike Duffy trial in Ottawa. Reading from our app? Tap Here.