Mike was great company. Amusing, affable, a life-of-the-party charmer. He was also needy and driven by a desire to be somebody.
Ever since the mid-’60s, when he was a teen disc jockey at CFCY-TV in Charlottetown, Mike dreamed of a career in broadcasting. Critics told him he’d never make it. Your voice is too high. Lose some weight. Duffy ignored them. “I was going to get somewhere, despite what everyone thought,” he later told the Globe and Mail. Determined to make his name as a political reporter, Duffy moved to Ottawa in 1971 to work on Parliament Hill. After two years with CFRA Radio, he jumped to CBC Radio, then, in
1977, to CBC-TV’s national news. The jolly DJ from P.E.I. had confounded his critics and made it to the show.
Once he got to the top, Duffy worked even harder, earning a reputation for edgy reporting. He covered the fall of Saigon, won an ACTRA award for his coverage of a terrorist attack on the Turkish embassy in Ottawa, and provoked Brian Mulroney into suing him and the CBC over a story about how Mulroney’s goons backstabbed Joe Clark.
But by 1988, after 10 years as Peter Mansbridge’s sidekick, Duffy yearned to see his name in lights. When Baton Broadcasting offered him a small fortune to host his own politics show, he seized the opportunity.
Now he had a pulpit to sell the “Duff” brand and transform himself into a million-dollar enterprise — the Don Cherry of Canadian politics. He worked the Ottawa cocktail circuit and boasted about partying at “Joe and Maureen’s,” made after-dinner speeches at the Rideau Club, and bragged that he was doing “charity things with Mila.” Friends took to calling him Senator Duffy.
“Mike developed ‘host’s disease,’” says Linden MacIntyre, a Duffy drinking buddy from the Maritimes, now with CBC’s the fifth estate. “That’s where you start to believe all the flattery, believe you’re bigger than the story. The affliction gets worse, the head swells up and anything that threatens your celebrity becomes a problem.”
So what’s the long term impact?
These days, the ruckus over his residency has the embattled senator scurrying out back doors and hiding in hotel kitchens to avoid inconvenient questions from the media.
I remember a time when the old Mike Duffy, award-winning CBC reporter, would barge through those kitchen doors and demand that Senator Duffy explain himself. But that was long ago.
Like a lot of you out there, I grew up watching Mike Duffy on television. I thought he was a fair interviewer that held both sides accountable. When he became a senator, he became increasingly partisan which I thought was an odd direction for him to go with but if that is what he thought, that is what he thought.
When the scandal hit over his residency, I was a little shocked by it because I see what he is doing and what Patrick Brazeau being two different things. Let’s look at what Duffy did.
He was named to the Senate from P.E.I. despite living in Ottawa for most of his life. He went out and bought and renovated a small P.E.I. cabin in Cavendish, P.E.I. to establish his residency in. Critics say that he spends most of his time in Ottawa and he shouldn’t get a housing allowance and yet he is expected to keep a second residence in PEI. This is different from other senators in which way? The truth is that he spends most of this time in Ottawa as a senator. They meet for about 88 working days a year. When you include in holidays and weekends is about 6 months of the year which means that he does need two residences. Duffy’s mistake is that he used his housing allowance to pay for his PEI home and not his Ottawa residence. So if he had sold his home and bought a condo in Ottawa, everything would have been okay? Let’s use some common sense on this.
As for why his neighbours haven’t seen a lot of him lately, the senate is in session and therefore he would be living in Ottawa. They had some neighbours complaining that they never see the Duffy’s. First of all there are people who own cabins at Arlington Beach that I have never seen and Cavendish is a lot bigger than Arlington. It also could be that the Duffy’s enjoy their privacy. Even more scandalous is that they even spend some of their social time in both Ottawa and Cavendish.
As for the health card, I love my cabin at Arlington Beach but if I was sick, I want to be at home. For me that is Saskatoon and for Duffy, that appears to be Ottawa. While it looked back when he wanted an expedited card, I don’t have a problem with him having an Ontario health card. If he is going to spending most of his time in Ottawa, it makes sense to me.
There are no Senate rules for residency in your home province and until there are, we should back off Senator’s like Mike Duffy. He’s a part of a weird undefined system. I don’t see fraud or even a scam. If anything it seems that Duffy never realized that once he turned partisan, the attacks would follow. As we have seen now, they have. The difference for Duffy is that he is on the receiving end of them.
According to Mr. Fife, Ms. Guergis has been telling people that she has grounds to sue Air Canada after the report of her tantrum was leaked to the media. Mr. Fife says senior Conservatives have told him this suggests “she just doesn’t get it.”
Certainly there are high-profile Tory faces, including former PMO communications director Kory Teneycke, who have been publicly critical of her behaviour.
Reports suggest the PEI incident has cost the party some support with the Conservative base.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the only one who can decide whether Ms. Guergis stays or goes. Mr. Fife suggests he may wait until some time has passed and then quietly replace her.
I have been saying this for a couple of weeks now and I don’t think she will be in cabinet after the next shuffle. Again, while I agree going through airport security is a pain, we all have to do it and to have a Minister of the Crown have an epic temper tantrum because she is running late for a flight and it’s her birthday, Canadians know something is wrong. Even Senator Mike Duffyis taking shots at her now.
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JordonCooper.com is a weblog written by Jordon Cooper. The opinions expressed on JordonCooper.com are my own; they do not reflect the views of my employer, my friends, or even my wife. Once I have had enough time to think about them and enough time has passed, they may no longer even reflect my current thinking.