Many people keep diaries. Few expect them to become part of a criminal trial.
But one of the largest pieces of evidence entered in Mike Duffy’s fraud and breach of trust trial is the diary the former senator kept in office.
From 2009 to 2012, each day is marked out in extensive detail, with every flight, every meeting and every fundraiser outlined.
The prosecution has indicated they will use some of the items in the diary to prove Duffy charged taxpayers for trips and expenses that had nothing to do with his work.
However, there are plenty entries that show Duffy going about the life of an ordinary 68-year-old: getting his health checked, having various computer troubles, and enjoying meals at Swiss Chalet.
Lots of meals at Swiss Chalet.
Here are 9 of the strangest and most superfluous items we’ve found in his diary.
1. The time Duffy didn’t shave or shower before a flight
Flying from Toronto to Fredericton to give a speech on March 23, 2009, Duffy’s diary notes he had no time to shave or shower before leaving Toronto Pearson Airport. However, his diary’s next entry says “Fly Toronto to Fred-ton arr @ 10:47 am, shave and pits in washroom.”
Where the “shave and pits” action occurred is anyone’s guess. Right before he made his speech? In the airport washroom? In the *shudder* airplane itself?
Canadians may never know.
2. The time Duffy provided jokes to the leader of a Scottish political party
While in Scotland in March 2009, Duffy spent a day being a tourist (“Tour to Edinburgh Castle, the old City, local pub,” his diary says) before speaking at Wedgwood the Restaurant and making “political jokes.”
Apparently, the jokes worked. The diary’s next entry says “[Duffy] agrees to send jokes to Tavish Scott MSP, leader of the Liberal Democrats.”
3. The time Duffy created a Twitter account he never used
On March 21, 2011, the diary says that Althia Raj, a journalist whom Duffy worked with at CTV, set up a Twitter account for the former senator. The account is @dennis_duffy (Dennis is his middle name), but doesn’t have any information identifying him, and he never tweets.
Duffy follows a number of Ottawa journalists, none of them follow him back. His only followers are a fitness instructor from Port Hope, and someone called “Jr diego,,”. It is unknown why they follow Duffy.
(And yet, Duffy follows “Jr diego,,” as well, for reasons that may never be fully be revealed to us mere peons)
4. The time Duffy left a restaurant because an online journalist was also there
On April 23, 2009, Duffy went to Royal Oak Kanata, a restaurant in Ottawa’s suburbs. Once there, he noted “Hugh is there with Ray Stone and (surprise) Pierre Bourque.”
Evidently Duffy wasn’t keen on spending too much time with Bourque, a founder and editor of a popular online news aggregator. He and Stone “leave the Oak while Pierre is in the washroom”, and Duffy later emails Stone to say “no more Oak” because of Bourque.
It’s important to remember that Mike Duffy is not the star of a Disney Channel sitcom for tweens.
5. The time Duffy dropped his keys through a crack in his deck
While much of the trial will centre on whether Duffy’s primary residence was a cottage in Cavendish, PEI, his diary shows he did spend plenty of summers and holidays there. His entries from Cavendish tend to be less work-oriented than those from Ottawa — perhaps none more than the ordeal in late 2012 when he lost his car key under his deck, and his “wonder woman” wife Heather managed to rescue them.
6. The time Duffy felt the need to mention he was eating “Joy Behar’s lasagna”
Virtually all of Duffy’s dinners are mentioned in the diary. Many were at restaurants, but the majority were at his Ottawa residence, listed as “47” throughout the diary as shorthand for his address.
None of them mention what Duffy had for dinner, except, perplexingly, his meal on March 18, 2011. It’s possible he was actually eating with former talk show host Joy Behar, but the more likely answer is that her lasagna recipe is well known, and Duffy was inclined to try it for himself.
7. The time he described his entire CARIBBEAN CRUISE in great detail
When some people go on vacation, they slack off on making diary entries.
Not the Old Duff. If anything, his diary became more active. A 2009 cruise in the Caribbean, for example, has up to 10 entries a day, letting us know what he ate (a “Deli lunch on Deck 10” on December 29), where he went (“Land in Willemstad Curacao, Colourful downtown,” on December 23), and what the on-ship entertainment was (“Celebrith theatre show – Perry Grant – pianist – gag with John (Cruise director),” he writes on December 29).
And on, and on, and on.
8. The time he thought the movie Edge of Darkness was just “okay”
Also extensively catalogued by Duffy? All the movies he watched. Taken, The Killing, War Horse, Skyfall, and several more films are dutifully marked down, with no mention of what he thought of them.
Except for Edge of Darkness. On January 31, 2010, Duffy watched the 2010 crime thriller starring Mel Gibson. It received a curt “OK” in his diary.
9. The many, many, many times he ate at Swiss Chalet
Duffy’s diary lists many dining excursions and many of his choices were high-end restaurants. But it seemed his favourite place to go skewed a little more towards comfort food.
There are over 20 listings for Duffy eating at Swiss Chalet in the diary, including three during the 2011 federal election alone. The only time he stopped going to Swiss Chalet was for an extended period is 2010, when he became a regular patron of East Side Mario’s.
Why the change? It’s unknown. Like most of the questions in this trial, the actions are clear, but the motivations may never be revealed.