Canada column for Sunday, April 24/16
|Niagara Falls turned purple to honor the Queen and Prince. (Parks Canada photo)|
By Jim Fox
Mike Duffy is back at work as a senator after a three-year expulsion now that he was cleared of 31 charges of defrauding the Canadian government.
Judge Charles Vaillancourt, in a four-hour verdict, had harsh words for former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office and its conduct over the expenses scandal involving Duffy, 69.
The ruling after a 62-day trial took issue with the prosecution’s contention that the former TV broadcaster had deliberately defrauded taxpayers by submitting claims for disputed housing, office and travel expenses.
Vaillancourt was extremely critical that Harper’s former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, gave Duffy $90,000 to repay his living expenses to try to defuse the controversy.
“The political, covert, relentless, unfolding of events is mind boggling and shocking,” Vaillancourt said, acquitting Duffy of all counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery.
Lawyer Donald Bayne said that Duffy has been subjected to “more public humiliation than probably any Canadian in history.”
Senator Patrick Brazeau faces a fraud and breach of trust trial this year while senator Pamela Wallin’s expenses continue to be examined by the police. Seven other senators are being asked to repay a total of $528,000 in disputed expenses.
Canada’s Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario turned a regal purple Thursday night to honor Queen Elizabeth on her 90th birthday – and, perhaps to pay tribute to Prince.
Many people said it also honored the “Purple Rain” singer who died at his home in Minnesota at age 57.
Toronto played a big part in the life of Prince as in the early-to-mid 2000s, he lived in the city's Bridle Path neighborhood.
At the time, he was married to Manuela Testolini, who was born in Toronto.
Prince performed two of his last sold-out shows at Toronto’s Sony Center last month.