Shed a tear for Mike Duffy. If it’s not President Steve and the Tories persecuting the de-troughed senator, it’s his erstwhile buddies in the media party.
Take Dan Leger, for instance. While researching his book about the Ol’ Duff’, the onetime Parliament Hill hack journeyed to Mike’s pretend home in Cavendish, PEI, to get his version of the expense scandal that brought him low.
Over the protests of his wife, Heather, Mike agreed to an interview and the old comrades repaired to the front porch. As Heather paced inside the house and glared needles at Leger through the living room window, Duffy rambled on, describing in endless detail the nightmare of abuse the Harperites had inflicted on him.
Finally, they shook hands and Leger made his way back to Halifax.
Fast forward to the book’s release this month and Duffy is claiming Leger “tricked” him into giving the interview, conned him into pouring his heart out for an hour.
It’s OK, Duff’, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
Frank regrets to report there are few fresh revelations in Leger’s book Duffy: Stardom to Senate to Scandal. Oh, sure, it’s a solid, workmanlike effort, but ultimately a disappointing account of the Duffy story–much like the fifth estate’s recent rehash of Duffy’s fall from grace.
Leger did manage to unearth a couple of minor nuggets, like the time Duffy was invited to speak to Charlottetown’s tiny press club and its dozen or so members. “He arrived carrying index cards with questions that the local journalists were to ask him. Every question had a funny or profound answer that Duffy would use to entertain and educate his audience of lesser-accomplished scribes.”
Another of Leger’s sources, Liberal MP Wayne Easter, describes a gala opening of the annual Anne of Green Gables show. Duffy showed up late with two unexpected guests, demanding to know “who let him [Easter] in,” and that his friends be seated with the official party.
Leger: “Advised the seats were all taken, Duffy told theatre officials that he had a pipeline to federal funding agencies and to the federal cabinet.
If they wanted Ottawa’s help with capital improvements, they better fix him up. ’I’ve got [Heritage Minister] James Moore on my speed dial,’ Duffy told them, brandishing his trusty BlackBerry. The Confederation Centre people scrambled to fix up the senatorial party, if only to avoid a scene.”
“Duffy’s transformation,” says Easter, “From neutral journalist to Conservative attack dog to beleaguered senator under suspension is a tragic tale of ambition and downfall. It’s a remarkably sad story. A lot of Prince Edward Islanders were proud to see a fellow Islander on TV. He was a national celebrity. And now, it’s almost a visceral hatred that people feel.”
In the pages on Pam Wallin, Leger notes that in 2008, Harper asked Wallin to join John “Beaker” Manley and three other “eminent persons”: former Mulroney chief of staff Derek Burney, former Tory cabinet minister Jake Epp, and Paul Tellier, chief executive of Canadian National Railways. They were to report on what Canada’s future role should be in Afghanistan.
The nugget Leger missed is that the Great CanadiansTM were eligible for generous per diems. Manley, as supremo, stood to collect between $1,200 and $1,400 per day. Fellow panelists were in the $850-$1,000 range for their patriotic efforts.
But, as befits public spirited Canadians of their ilk, all of them declined any remuneration—all, that is, save for one, who insisted on milking the gig for everything it was worth and billed taxpayers for $45,000, plus expenses.
Manley et al were furious that a Globe and Minion story gave the impression they were in it for the money. But they were reluctant to rat out the lone freeloader, for fear of getting the mission off to a bad start.
Step forward, Pam Wallin!