Senators respond to CTV report on coercing Duffy into repaying expenses
Two Conservative senators have responded to a CTV News report that they worked with then-chief of staff Nigel Wright to coerce Sen. Mike Duffy into publically declaring he would repay his alleged ineligible expenses.
Senators David Tkachuk and Carolyn Stewart Olsen issued a joint statement Tuesday, saying the CTV News report is “false.”
“At no time did we have knowledge of Mr. Wright's payment to Senator Duffy before it was reported publicly. Anyone who suggests that we were aware of Mr. Wright's payment to Senator Duffy before it was reported publicly is lying,” they said.
“Our long standing position is that Senator Duffy should have immediately repaid all ineligible expenses to taxpayers.”
But CTV News never reported that the senators knew about Wright’s $90,000 cheque to Duffy.
CTV News has seen emails showing an organized effort by the Prime Minister’s Office and the senior Conservative senators to coerce Duffy into publicly declaring he’d repay money owed to taxpayers.
In the emails, Tkachuk stated that if the money was not repaid he could use his majority in the senate steering committee, which was overseeing the audit, to remove Duffy from the Senate as he was not seen as a resident of Prince Edward Island.
Tkachuk allegedly told Duffy that if he agreed to co-operate and repay his debt to taxpayers, the Senate committee would throw out the residency issue and go easy on him in the audit of his expenses. That conversation was followed up by a phone call by Wright, reiterating what Tkachuk had said.
The emails allege that Wright also stated that there was a scenario being worked on to cover all of Duffy’s concerns, including money for the repayment.
Contrary to the inference that may be drawn from the statement by Tkachuk and Stewart Olsen, at no time did CTV News report knowledge of the $90,000 cheque issued by Wright several months later after these conversations took place.
The RCMP is investigating Duffy’s expense claims.
Speaking briefly to CTV News at his home in P.E.I., Duffy said: “Given the circumstances, as long as the RCMP are examining this matter, I think it would be totally inappropriate for me to say anything.
“I think, however, that when the process is finished Canadians will find, as the independent auditors at Deloitte found, that my expenses are not meritorious of criticism.”
With a report by CTV’s Daniele Hamamdjian