Monthly Archives: May 2013

My beer with Mike…

I was hoping this was online, but I can’t seem to locate it — so I’ll post the story here.

Some context: after Duffy’s appearance at the Legion in early 2011 to stump for local Conservative nomination candidate Paul Throop, several of us sat around one of the tables at the Legion for a couple of beers while the Duffster regaled us with tales of the old days — completely off-the-record, of course…

This morning, in light of this, I’m trying to remember who the heck paid the tab…

Anyway, here’s the story I wrote at the time (in the Feb. 2, 2011 edition of the E-B), including one of those quotes that always comes back to haunt the individuals who say them…

Senator stumps Simcoe-Grey for Con nominee

COLLINGWOOD — Senator Mike Duffy has just come from having a haircut at Frank’s Barbershop, just up the street from the Enterprise-Bulleitn.
Frank “wouldn’t let me pay,” he says with mock indignation, before launching into a tale of one of the successes he’s had in his short time in politics — multi-million-dollar infrastructure funding for a college in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, his home province.
Public service, he says, has been an eyeopener for a guy who spent about 40 years in journalism.
“It was only after (his appointment, in December, 2008), that I realized the good feeling one gets from so-called public service,” he said. “It’s the little things… that you use to help people.
“For all that I do for P.E.I, I get a great sense of satisfaction. I didn’t really think about it (before his appointment), that I would get that kind of gratification.”
While Duffy is normally criss-crossing the country, speaking at Conservative fundraisers, this time he’s in Simcoe-Grey for a special reason. He’s here stumping for Paul Throop, one of the three candidates for the Conservative nomination in Simcoe-Grey.
He’s known ‘Boomer’ — Throop’s nickname from his downhill ski racing days — for about 30 years, “and he’s the kind of person (the riding) needs right now.”
Duffy made an appearance at the Nottawasaga Inn for lunch ( “It was a really huge crowd,” he said), and was making a second appearance at the Royal Canadian Legion in Collingwood in the evening.
Duffy was last in the area about this time last year, for a fundraiser for Simcoe-Grey Conservatives. Back then, of course, the Conservative Member of Parliament was Helena Guergis.
“What happened to Helena was unfortunate,” he muses.
He laughs when NDP leader Jack Layton’s suggestion is brought up about banning senators from fundraising for their parties. “There’s something called the Charter of Rights,” says Duffy. “Plus, we have a pretty onerous code of ethics.”
He says for all the negative comments about Conservatives, it’s still the party that gave women the right to vote, created the public broadcaster, and introduced simultaneous English-French translation in the House of Commons.
But he always brings the topic of the conversation back to Throop.
“Paul knows all the stuff (in Ottawa), because he’s been around forever,” says Duffy, referring to Throop’s six years as part of Peter MacKay’s political staff, and lengthy service with the party.
“When he gets there, and I hope he does, we will be the person to get results,” he says. “He knows how the system works.”
When the matter of how hotly contested this race is, between Sick Kids surgeon Kellie Leitch, and former Collingwood mayor Chris Carrier, Duffy dances around the subject for a bit.
However, he acknowledges, the issue of local politicians — and letters of endorsement — are not playing well. “People are quite appalled because the area is getting a bad rap,” he said.
The line-up of current municipal politicians who have publicly backed other candidates — mostly Leitch — is “shortsighted.
“In politics, there is a hierarchical arrangement of municipal, provincial and federal government… and it would not be a wise person who takes sides in this thing.”
Duffy notes the reason the campaign has reached the fervour it has is the “Toronto approach.
“You’ve got the people who got the money and think they’ve got the expertise… and my fear is the people will not be well-served.
“This (being a public servant) is a tough job, and if you’re not in it for the right reasons, then you could end up in a situation where other things take importance,” he said. “You have to respect the sensibilities and sensitivities of this region.”
Which, again, brings the conversation back to Throop.
“You have to have someone who understands (Ottawa) already, and they’re prepare to listen (to constituents),” said Duffy. “You see a number of people come into politics who think everybody should be grateful they’re there.
“People are not well served when there’s that disconnect… and what you need in difficult times is someone with empathy.
And with that, Throop stands, anxious to get Duffy to the legion — they’re going to be late — but it’s clear the senator is now in his element, and he can’t help but swap journalism stories.