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“Creative contracts not uncommon” for MPs, former Duffy aide

Posted in Featured, Talking Politics



Published on June 12, 2015 with No Comments

“We had staff people working in our office who were paid by a businessman in Toronto. You had to be creative a bit to get bills paid,” veteran Parliament Hill aide Diane Scharf commented about how lawmakers found “back door” ways of getting things paid for, and not just in the Senate.
“This is a common practice at the House of Commons, and I am quite accustomed to this,” said Scharf, referring to an unnamed politician she worked for on Parliament Hill. Scharf was paid several hundred dollars to cover her phone bills by an Ottawa construction firm run by Duffy’s friend Gerald Donohue. Donohue himself had received $65,000 in research contracts, which in turn served to reimburse or pay others.
“Maybe the money for my cellphone came from selling tomatoes at the end of his laneway, I had no idea, and I didn’t care,” Scharf said. “I had a job to do, and needed that cellphone, and he was ready there to reimburse me. It was a simple matter for a small amount of money.”
Duffy has pleaded not guilty to 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery, in connection with his office, living and travel expenses.
Just as Duffy’s pre-signing of stacks of travel claims didn’t faze Scharf, neither did the contracting arrangement set up with Donohue.
Over four decades, Scharf has worked for figures include Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Conservative minister Rona Ambrose, former Liberal MP Dennis Mills and at least three Tory senators.
When she was interviewed by the RCMP, she offered an example of a cabinet minister holding a major event. She said an individual might take photos at the event, even though such photography is not a valid expense under Commons rules.
Scharf insisted that what she saw inside Duffy’s office was legitimate Senate business — nothing that personally benefited the senator, and nothing that was deliberately kept secret.
She also complained that Senate finance officials seemed to be changing their mind on expense matters “every week.”
Under defence lawyer Donald Bayne’s cross-examination, Scharf said that while the numbers on travel and living claims she filed were sometimes “altered,” it was never because someone was evaluating the principles behind Duffy’s claims.
“I had great difficulty understanding why the Senate finance office did what they did,” Scharf said.


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