Canada Politics

Do we, the Canadian public, owe Sen. Mike Duffy an apology?

Canada Politics

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A giant Mike Duffy balloon on Parliament Hill

Senator Mike Duffy is the victim — at least that's what he'd like us to believe.

On Monday, Duffy's lawyer Donald Bayne publicly claimed that his client did nothing wrong — that the Prime Minister's office and Senate leadership told him it was okay to designate his PEI home as his primary residence even though he lived in Ottawa most of the time.

He alleged that it was staff at the PMO who concocted a plan to have Nigel Wright give him money to repay Senate expenses and forced him to cooperate under threat of expulsion.

On Tuesday, it was Duffy's turn to defend himself. Duffy defended himself in the Senate telling his colleagues that Prime Minister Stephen Harper told him: "Do what we want — or else."

Perhaps we, the Canadian public, got it all wrong.

Maybe the vitriol directed at Duffy over the past several months was uncalled for or at least premature?

At Yahoo.ca, comment sections on stories about Duffy lit up up with anti-Duffy verbal assaults. There were unflattering pictures, cartoons, T-shirts, exaggerated bigger than life balloons all mocking the once respected journalist.

His former media colleagues even went after him.

The likes of Rex Murphy, Andrew Coyne and Tim Harper were critical of the former broadcaster.

One of the most sharp tongued attacks came from CTV News' Don Martin:

"Let's talk about the true political sorcerer who has elevated fakery to a dark art. Yes old Duff that's you.

For starters he faked being a neutral journalist while shilling for a Senate seat for decades. A fact confirmed to me by no fewer than four prime ministers or their aides.

...In the last year Mike Duffy has become the all-Canadian poster boy for Canadian fakery.

Do we all owe the Duff-man an apology?

What about the Angus Reid poll — released Monday — suggesting that Duffy was the least admired 'celebrity' in all of Canada.

Could we have all been so wrong about him?

[ Related: Mike Duffy says he was strong-armed over spending by Harper, PMO in explosive speech ]

On the other hand, maybe we shouldn't be so ready to give honourable senator from PEI the benefit of the doubt — just yet.

As political consultant Gerry Nicholls told Yahoo on Monday, Duffy and his lawyer have not not yet produced any evidence to back up their allegations.

He also still has a lot of explaining to do on many issues.

On February 22, Duffy announced he would "voluntarily" pay back his Senate living allowance.

Here's what he told CBC Radio at the time:

"So my wife and I discussed it, and we decided that in order to turn the page, to put all this behind us, we are going to voluntarily pay back my living expenses related to the house we have in Ottawa."

Looking back, does that sound like an accurate portrayal of what actually happened?

[ Related: Duffy’s lawyer suggests PMO pressured senator into taking repayment deal ]

There's also the issue of his expense claims — his double dipping as they say — during the 2011 election campaign. According to Duffy's lawyer, those claims were an administrative error by a staffer.

But shouldn't the senator be signing off on those expense claims?

And what about the RCMP allegation that Senator Mike Duffy — using taxpayer dollars — paid a contractor almost $65,000 for "little or no apparent work" over a four year period between 2009 and 2012. Bayne seemed to glaze over that on Monday.

[ Related: Is Senator Mike Duffy becoming the most hated Canadian politician? ]

Then there's Duffy's attitude which doesn't win him many friends.

He was arrogant throughout the scandal refusing to publicly explain his expense claims. Remember the time, at an event in Halifax, when he ducked out the back entrance through a kitchen telling reporters that they should be doing "adult work"?

And even on Tuesday, in the Senate, Duffy exuded a sense of entitlement. At one point, when complaining that a suspension would take away his medical benefits, he actually said: "Who's going to buy the heart drugs I need?"

Duffy certainly wants us to think that he's an innocent victim in a devious political plot.

But are Canadians ready to fully exonerate him?

What do you think? Do we owe Mike Duffy an apology?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

(Photo courtesy of Canadian Press)

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