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Duffy Trial Day 6 – Counting Words

Following the Mike Duffy trial has reaffirmed for me that I would never have made a very good lawyer. I can double speak with the best of ‘em but I’m too lazy to devote all the time that both the Crown and the Defence have put in preparing for this trial. It’s one small detail after another and I have difficulty just reading the instructions all the way through  to assemble a piece of Ikea furniture.

Just listening to the minutiae in the trial is excruciating. I can’t even begin to understand what wading through even more of it during preparation for the trial must have been like. I’ve seen video on television of the lawyers going into court with boxes and boxes of documents.

Are you kidding me? There’s absolutely no way I could have forced myself to read that much government bureaucratize.

I would probably have resigned and runaway to become a wandering minstrel strolling from village to dell and left the good senator to his fate before the trial had even begun.

I wouldn’t have made a very good reporter either and for the same reasons. An hour of sitting in the courtroom listening to testimony about Senate expense procedures would be about the maximum length of time I would be able to stay focused. After that first sixty minutes, my mind would wander and I might start doing things to amuse myself like – oh, I don’t know – perhaps count the number of words spoken for the day by all participants.

During yesterday’s proceedings, the CBC’s perky little Kady O’Malley did exactly that. She counted every word and tweeted the number at the end of the day. I think she was damned lucky somebody didn’t tap her on the shoulder as she was counting and started whispering other numbers in her ear just to throw her off. Wouldn’t that have been more than enough to make your sphincter clench? I think that may have been what happened at the end of the day because she tweeted that the final number came in just under 5,000.

I’m pretty sure that if she hadn’t been interrupted, our Kady would have been able to report the exact number.

It was that kind of day in court – again – as defence lawyer Donald Bayne cross-examined the Crown’s witness from the day before. If the OJ Simpson trial was the Trial of The Century (according to CNN), the Mike Duffy trial could be considered The Big Drone because there is a lot of droning on and on and on and on.

It is all frightfully boring but it is important. In the middle of those more than 5,000 words, Mr. Bayne got the witness to admit that pretty much all senators fill out their expense claims the way that the Old Duff did his. That made me wonder why they’re having a trial at all or alternatively, why they weren’t trying all honourable senators.

It seems that charges may have been laid almost as selectively as the coming tax breaks by the Harper government for The Chosen in Canada. It’s not the first time I’ve wondered about this.

Back in the halcyon days when the scandal first picked up steam and was much more entertaining than it is right now, it came to light that Conservative Senator Carolyn Stewart-Olsen had also been claiming a living allowance for her ‘primary’ residence in New Brunswick and like the merry Duffster, Senator Stewart-Olsen had actually been living in Ottawa before being appointed and still does.

She did pay the money back on the orders of the Prime Minister’s Office but was not forced to walk the plank like Senator Dufferino. It’s not quite a double standard I suppose but it’s definitely not gender equality either – so to speak. It may even rise to the level of discrimination against the chunky. Senator Stewart-Olsen is quite petite in a senatorial kind of way while the Duffster is – well – not.

Senator Stewart-Olsen will be called to testify by the Crown who seems to have called just about everyone in the area except Maggie and I (I certainly would have been delighted to testify – I love a good outing) but I am fairly confident that Mme Stewart-Olsen is not looking forward to meeting Mr. Bayne in court or in person. He has a nasty habit of probing even more deeply than a gynecologist or proctologist.

His probing yesterday was quite effective.

He managed to locate a document of Senate rules that clearly states that things like photographic reproductions and framing are considered allowable expenses which is good for his client. It’s not all that good for you and me, of course, because the rule was very vague about which kind of photographs and the purpose of the frames which means, as per usual, you and I will be picking up the tab.

When I thought about that it made me wonder something else. What if the Senate’s chubby cherub is acquitted? Will we have to pick up the tab for some of his legal expenses? I suspect Mr. Bayne doesn’t work cheap. He just has that confident, “I don’t work cheap” look about him. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the Harper government had so mishandled this entire mess that led to these charges and this trial, we not only had to pay for the Duffer-do’s expenses but his legal bills as well?

That would certainly take a lot of the fun out of watching Justin Trudeau trying to remain relevant these days.

The trial is continuing today and I hope something major happens if only to give the media something new to talk about. My God but they’re becoming desperate. The amount of time they allocate for the big trial is shrinking daily and you know they have less and less to say when they’re reduced to counting the number of words that were spoken.

As an aside, I calculated the estimated number of words that will be used to try the good senator based on the projected 41 days for which it scheduled and Ace O’Malley’s crack reportage – 205,000. That doesn’t seem like very many for how much we’re paying to conduct this trial. The Prime Minister’s parliamentary secretary, Paul Calandra, can do more than that standing on his head in Parliament pretending to reply to a question from the Opposition parties.

If CNN were covering this trial, it would be far more entertaining. There would be super-graphics THE GOVERNMENT OF TRIAL or DEATH OF THE CANADIAN DREAM. There would original music for the intro, in depth bios of Senator Duffy, his wife, his children, his personal trainer and his dog (Duffy’s not the trainer’s). There would be charts with circles and arrows and numbers on them. Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer would have played extensively with their magic white board. There would be experts from across the nation who would offer in-depth analysis on the true meaning of the non-existent Senate expense regulations. There would be side-bar stories about the Duffy-Bush connection. Did they have an affair, was it some kind of secret government negotiation? They’d even have disgraced former Liberal Senator Raymonde Lavigne on as a colour commentator to describe what Senator Duffy could expect if he was convicted and sent to prison.

It would be wall-to-wall, 24/7 high drama. Exciting – ultimately meaningless – but much more fun than what we’re having now.

But then, this is Canada not the United States and up here we take a different approach to things than our American cousins; especially during the Stanley Cup playoffs which started this week.

In Canada, corrupt government and scandal are important but hockey is a religious experience. If Russia ever wants to invade Canada with minimum resistance, the best time to do it would be in the third period of Game 7 of the final. Even Stephen Harper will be watching that game.

The Russians would be on Bank St. in Ottawa before anyone noticed we were under attack.

But, I doubt the Russians are going to attack any time soon or that the Duffy trial is going to drop the kind of bombshell that will tear us from NHL Playoff fever. The trial is what it is and it probably won’t do much to inspire a united effort to reclaim our democratic institutions from a political class that has hijacked them for its own purposes.

We’re Canadians, after all. We used to believe in peace, order and good government. Now we’re pretty much satisfied if the Stanley Cup Final goes all the way to a shootout in game 7 and we have the opportunity to vent our spleens on social media once in a while.

It’s not quite the stuff that inspires revolutions but like the Duffy trial – it is very Canadian.


Duffygate – The Trial of the Decade

Day 1: The Lines are Drawn at DuffyGate

Day 2: The Trial, Taxes and Semantics

Duffy Trial Day 3: “You Look Marvelous”

Duffy Trial Day 4: What We’ve Learned

Duffy Trial Day 5: Framed!


© 2015 Maggie’s Bear

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Twitter: @maggsbear – Facebook: Maggie’s Bear  – ivmaki@sympatico.ca


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  • deb Scott

    you are fast becoming the jon stewart of the duffy trial, lol, keep plugging along, only 35 days more to go.
    I am sure all the lawyers making money per word will spend their vast wages to prop up the economy for the upcoming election:)

    • MaggiesBear

      The difference between Jon Stewart and I, other than the fact that he is incredibly sharp and very funny, is that he had a lot of material from which to choose. If things don’t pick up soon at the Duffy trial, I’ll run out of material and have to resort to card tricks to keep everyone entertained.

      • deb Scott

        lol I cannot argue with that:)

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