Suspended Senator Mike Duffy’s trial in Ottawa is finally getting into the nitty gritty of oil politics.
Two months after the National Observer broke a story about Duffy’s redacted diary, showing a flurry of undisclosed communications in 2012 between himself, senior Enbridge executives, the PMO's chief of staff, a pollster, Duffy's friend Bill Rodgers, and even Stephen Harper —all apparently about Enbridge — questions about the company were finally raised in court.
Bill Rodgers, who also goes by the name of William Kittelberg, told the trial that he was paid $2,000 in public funding for his “friendly advice on energy and pipelines" several news outlets reported. The Crown is alleging the payment was a scheme to funnel taxpayer monies through third-party companies, controlled by Duffy's friend, Gerald Donohue, to get Rodgers/Kittelberg paid discreetly.
Rodgers/Kittelberg is Duffy’s former CTV pal, who became the director of communications for former- federal Environment Minister Peter Kent. When he lost his job, Duffy recruited him as a communications associate in 2012.
Duffy's diary shows his friend was mentioned nine times, often on the same entries as "telecons" with Enbridge executives, Steve Wuori or Jim Blanchard, as well as pollster Dave Crapper.
All of this was occurring as the Prime Minister named Northern Gateway pipeline as the "most imminent option" for exporting more Alberta oil, and as the federal government launched a series of legislative moves to speed pipeline reviews and tax-audit environmental charities that oppose the oil sands.
In court, Rodgers/Kittelberg reportedly said he couldn't recall the names of the Enbridge executives introduced to him by Duffy, and he didn’t ask for the $2,000 payment. He also said he thought Duffy’s request to invoice a concrete-form company was odd, but he did so and got paid anyway, news outlets reported.
Enbridge has said Duffy arranged to have Rodgers/Kittelberg meet their officials directly for a job interview, but he was not hired.
Mike Duffy's lawyer objected to the Enbridge line of questioning, saying they had nothing to do with the fraud, breach of trust and bribery charges made against his client, the CBC's Kady O'Malley reported. The Crown countered that the communications were in Duffy's diary and were relevant.
After the National Observer story broke that none of Duffy's communications with Enbridge officials were disclosed to the federal lobbyist registry, the company's VP, D'Arcy Levesque, said Senator Duffy’s contacts "offering advice regarding Northern Gateway" were unsolicited, and resulted in the company complaining to Prime Minister Harper’s office.
New Democrats, who have hammered questions about the affair in Parliament three times, called the company’s explanation “concerning and odd.” The opposition so far have not heard from the Prime Minster directly on the matter, and the PMO has not responded to requests for comment.
The Duffy trial is expected to stretch into August, just as the federal election campaign starts to heat up.
Enbridge was asked to comment on this story late on Tuesday. If a response is provided, this story will be updated.
Mike Duffy diary entries with Bill Rodgers:
January 6, 2012 - 6 p.m. “Telcons Steve Wuori, Dave Crapper, Vivian Krause + Bill Rodgers” (with strike outs)
January 11, 2012, 4:30pm “Telcon Bill Rodgers re: Enbridge” (with strike outs)
January 11, 2012, 7:35pm "More Bill call back from Enbridge” (with strike outs)
February 9. 2012, 6:30pm - “Dinner @ Eastside Mario’s emails Nigel Wright on CTV, Bob Fife etc + Telcons Steve Wuori & Bill Rodgers re pipeline” (strike outs)
February 9, 5pm - “Telecon Bill Rodgers re: Enbridge”
February 17, 2012 - “PM asks “Send me a note on Enbridge Line #9 problems” (strike outs)
February 20, 2012 - “Send note to Jim Blanchard & Steve Wuori + Nigel Wright re: Enbridge”
February 21, 2012 - “Telcon - Jim Blanchard re Enbridge”
March 1, 2012 - “Call Gerry Donohue re: contract for Bill Rodgers”
April 2, 2012 - "Telecons - Steve Wuori, Bill Rodgers & Dave Crapper”
April 4, 2012, 9:30am -“National caucus - MD speaks to PM re: Enbridge Gateway pipelines” (strike outs)”
April 4, 2012, 6pm - “MD call Steve Wuori re: Bill Rodgers & Dave Crapper”