OTTAWA — Witness testimony is expected to resume today at the trial of Sen. Mike Duffy.
After a three-week hiatus, the trial resumed Monday with a minor victory for the Duffy team. Justice Charles Vaillancourt ruled that a Senate committee report could be entered into evidence.
The 2010 report of the internal economy committee was based largely on three audits of the Senate’s administrative practices, undertaken by the firm Ernst and Young.
It found that there was a lack of clear guidelines and criteria establishing what constitutes official business, as well as what is considered partisan activity, when senators file expenses.
Duffy is accused of filing improper living expenses connected with his designation of an Ottawa-area home as a secondary residence.
He has pleaded not guilty to 31 charges in total, including others that relate to his travel and Senate office expense claims.
The report’s conclusions are important for Duffy’s defence, which is largely focused on the argument that he was operating within the Senate’s confusing and lax rules.
“Oversight is relevant in this trial and counsel for the applicant advances the proposition that the lack of appropriate oversight is a key component to the defence of many of the charges before the court,” Vaillancourt wrote. “I recognize this as a valid position.”
The Crown argued that the report should be considered hearsay, since it was based on the work of an audit firm and not the committee. But Vaillancourt agreed with the defence that the audits were absorbed into the committee’s own work.
The ruling could have implications later in the trial. The auditor general is set to submit to the Senate a report on the spending of all senators some time this week.
The Canadian Press