April 22, 2015 12:20 pm
Updated: April 22, 2015 6:59 pm

Duffy charged taxpayers more than $12,000 for personal trips to funerals, documents allege


WATCH: Mike Le Couteur reports that Mike Duffy may have to answer for why he allegedly billed taxpayers to attend funerals.

OTTAWA – A cousin. A famed Second World War spy. A 94-year-old woman from Prince Edward Island.

Mike Duffy paid tribute to all their lives — and it appears he did so on the taxpayers’ dime.

Story continues below

According to documents filed as exhibits at the suspended senator’s trial, Duffy charged the upper chamber more than $12,000 for flights, taxis and per diems for five trips that included funerals.

The flights were booked at the last minute and Duffy flew in and out of the region in one or two days, his travel claims show.

Duffy is facing two charges of fraud and breach of trust for “inappropriate expense claims” associated with personal attendance at five funerals and related ceremonies.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and Duffy’s lawyer, Donald Bayne, has not had the chance to counter the claims.

READ MORE: NDP challenges Senate business

Bayne is expected to argue the travel was perfectly valid.

Although details of the funerals have yet to be fully revealed, Duffy’s meticulously detailed diary fills in the blanks as to where it appears he was travelling and why.

In total, Duffy faces 31 charges, including a bribery charge for accepting $90,000 for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff Nigel Wright to pay off his living and travel expenses. Duffy has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The funeral expense claims occurred during a three-year period between April 2009 and March 2012, according to the RCMP charge sheet.

Using travel expense claims and Duffy’s diaries, Global News has pieced together which funerals it appears Duffy charged to the Senate over the three-year period.

The grand total is more than $12,200.

A cousin from PEI

As the trial entered its third week, the Crown suggested one of Duffy’s fraudulent expense claims was a trip to his cousin’s funeral in PEI.

According to Duffy’s diary, Mary McCabe died on Feb. 12, 2012, about a month after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

On Monday, Crown prosecutor Jason Neubauer asked McCabe’s brother David, who was appearing as a witness on another matter, if Duffy was present for his sister’s visitation and funeral.

“Yes he was,” answered David McCabe, who was testifying about $500 Duffy paid him for scanning local newspaper clippings.

READ MORE: Mike Duffy’s cousin paid for sending the senator newspaper clippings, trial hears 

Duffy’s diary says he attended McCabe’s wake on Feb. 14 at “Belevedere” (sic), evidently the Belvedere Funeral Home in Charlottetown.

The diary says Duffy flew to Charlottetown on an Air Canada flight around 10 a.m., and returned at 8:20 p.m. the same day.

A Senate travel claim for Feb. 14 shows Duffy charged $1699.22 for flights, and was reimbursed for $174.34 for meals, mileage and taxis, for a total of $1873.56.

The purpose of the claim is filled out: “Senate business – crucial meeting.”

And although Duffy charged the Senate $40.30 for dinner that day, he still made it home in time to take his wife, Heather, out for Valentine’s Day at The Keg steakhouse, his diary says.

Three trips to PEI and one to Halifax

The travel claims show four more trips that correspond with funerals marked down in Duffy’s diary. The dates also line up with the allegedly fraudulent expense claim numbers on the RCMP charges sheet.

On April 10, 2009, Duffy flew to Charlottetown at 11:30 a.m. to “visit region,” according to his expense claim.

The flight cost $1,400 round-trip, and Duffy also charged for $145 in taxis, for a total of $1,145.

According to his diary, Duffy attended the funeral of Isobel DeBlois around 9:45 am on April 11.

DeBlois is described in an online memorial as a 94-year-old mother and “special grandmother of loving pet Carlo.” Duffy returned to Ottawa that same day at 2:40 pm, according to his expense claim.

Duffy also charged for trips to official meetings in Calgary and Halifax on the same expense claim, but they do not appear to be disputed.

In May 2011, Duffy charged the Senate for two trips — one on May 17 to Charlottetown, and another on May 29 to Halifax.

According to his diary, Duffy was at the funeral for Cliff Stewart around 10:30 am on May 18, 2011. He had previously attended Stewart’s 90th birthday in December 2009.

Stewart was a Canadian spy recruited by the British during the Second World War, and was known on the island as the “spy from P.E.I.,” according to the local Guardian newspaper.

For that trip, Duffy was booked on a round-trip flight to Charlottetown via Halifax, costing $3,360.94 including fees, according to his Senate travel claim.

He also charged taxis and meals for a grand total of $3,599.59. Duffy returned to Ottawa the following day.

And on May 29, Duffy billed for a last-minute flight to Halifax, which cost $3454.52 in airfare and another $172.35 in limos to the airport and per diems, for a total of $3,627.27. The trip lasted about two hours.

The purpose, according to Duffy’s travel expense claims, was “Senate business – meetings.”

Duffy’s diary shows he attended Jackie Doyle’s funeral that day at JA Snow Funeral Home in Halifax around 3:30 pm, four days after he’d documented in the diary that Jackie Doyle Proude had died at age 65.

An online memorial for “Jacquelyn Rita Proude” says she came from a musical family and her husband, Garth Proude, was the original bass player for Nova Scotia singer Anne Murray.

And on Jan. 30 and Jan. 31, 2012, Duffy billed the Senate for a trip from Ottawa to Charlottetown that included a stay at a hotel.

Flight and fees cost $1,716.17, taxis were $160 and a stay at the Holman Grand Hotel was $140, for a total of $2,016.17, according to his travel expense claim, which is marked “Senate business.”

Duffy’s diary puts him at two funerals for Bobby LeClair on Jan. 30 and 31st.

According to an online memorial, Robert James “Bob” LeClair of Charlottetown died peacefully at age 67 with his family at his side.

© 2015 Shaw Media

Report an error


Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.