May 5, 2015 5:35 pm

Duffy trial gets legal lesson in Kerry Blue Terriers

Suspended Senator Mike Duffy arrives at the courthouse for his trial in Ottawa Monday, April 20, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

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OTTAWA- It was a day of dense legal arguments, and a dog named Charmaine.

The jarring juxtaposition of issues at play in the Mike Duffy trial was none the more evident Tuesday, in the fifth week of the suspended senator’s fraud and breach of trust trial.

Duffy faces 31 charges, including bribery, and has pleaded not guilty to all of them.

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The potentially precedent-setting case is often a mix of the meticulous and the mundane – hours spent parsing the myriad of Senate rules, while studying Duffy’s personal diaries outlining such trips as a visit to a dog show in Peterborough, Ont.

A dog named Charmaine

One of Duffy’s alleged fraudulent expense claims involves a trip to Peterborough, Ont. in early July 2010.

READ MORE: Mike Duffy trial: 8 allegedly fraudulent trips that cost almost $38,000

Expense claims filed in court show Duffy billed the Senate almost $700 to drive to Peterborough for a trip that was billed as “public business – meet local officials on broadcasting issues.”

According to Duffy’s diary, he met with former Conservative Dean Del Mastro and his wife for coffee, and attended a kennel club show.

But the Crown contends Duffy was really there to purchase a puppy.

Witness Louise Lang, secretary of the Kerry Blue Terrier Club of Canada, testified that she met Duffy and his wife at a dog show in Peterborough in July 2010.

Crown prosecutor Jason Neubauer suggested that Duffy made arrangements at the show to buy a Kerry Blue Terrier puppy from a New Brunswick breeder named Barbara Thompson.

“Are you familiar with a Kerry Blue Terrier named Charmaine?” he asked.

“I only know Charmaine by name. That dog was owned by Barb Thompson,” Lang replied.

But Lang said she was not there for their conversations at the event.

In his cross examination, Duffy’s lawyer Donald Bayne went after Lang’s memory, noting that she did not remember the day or year of the dog show in her police interview.

Initially, Lang told police Duffy picked up his dog in Peterborough.

“I was under the impression that he was there to pick up a dog,” she said.

But Bayne told the court Duffy got his dog from Thompson on January 24, 2011, in Bayside, New Brunswick.

“I’ve never been down in that part of New Brunswick so I wouldn’t have been privy to be there,” Lang said.

According to Duffy’s diary, it appears his dog is named Chloe and was born on Oct. 23, 2010.

“Chloe & Puppies born!” it reads. Chloe is mentioned dozens of times over two years.

Hearing on evidence

In the morning, Judge Charles Vaillancourt heard complex legal arguments from both Bayne and the Crown on the admissibility of a 2010 Senate report, which written in response to an internal audit of the upper chamber’s practices and rules.

Bayne wants the public report admitted into evidence, because it bolsters his defence that Parliamentary functions for senators were not well-defined and that rules were not always well-communicated to senators.

READ MORE: Senate has no rules for primary residence, Duffy trial hears

The Crown, however, considers the report to be hearsay and thus inadmissible, because it is based on the Ernst and Young audit and is not the work of the senators themselves.

Vaillancourt said he will issue a decision in June, when the trial resumes after a three-week break starting next week.

The detailed arguments ate up three-and-half court days, including two for preparation and more than a day for Bayne, in a trial that is already well behind schedule.

The trial continues until Friday, when it breaks for three weeks and resumes again on June 1.

 

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