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Senator Mike Duffy On Trial Facing 31 Charges

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Mike Duffy. Image: Ayelie
Mike Duffy. Image: Ayelie

A Canadian senator is involved in a lengthy and significant criminal trial.

Senator Mike Duffy has been charged with 31 crimes involving the Senate’s money. The trial is to decide whether he is innocent or guilty of the crimes.

It is an important case because it involves a senator, a powerful figure in Canada’s government. Senators give the final approval to bills before they become laws.

The 31 charges against Mike Duffy are complicated and will take a long time for the court to unravel and decide on, but they mostly have to do with the way he spent his Senate budget money. For instance, senators are given money to help them pay for their living and eating expenses if they live more than 100 kilometres from their workplace in Ottawa.

Mike Duffy claimed that his main home is in Prince Edward Island, far from Ottawa. However, one goal of the trial is to decide whether his main home is actually the one he uses in Ottawa, which would mean he would not have been eligible to receive tens of thousands of dollars in expenses.

Some of the other charges involve Duffy giving work contracts to people who may be his friends. (In this case the issue is that contracts–agreements to do work in exchange for money–are supposed to be given to the best person for the job rather than who a senator likes.)

Mike Duffy and his lawyer say that he didn’t intend to commit any of the crimes he is accused of. They say that his “intention” (what he meant to do) was to claim for money that he believed he had a right to.

The trial is expected to last more than a month.

Related links
Want to know more about Mike Duffy and this case? Read this earlier TKN story, which has links to more information.

This article contains a good summary of some of the charges against Mike Duffy written by CBC News reporter Laura Payton (Huffington Post website, which isn’t a specifically kid-friendly site).

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
The article explains that Mike Duffy’s case is getting a lot of media attention “because it involves a senator, a powerful figure in Canada’s government.” Senators and other people elected into government are expected to demonstrate Canadian values.

What values would you expect to see from someone who holds a government position? Do you think they are expected to behave differently than regular Canadians?

Reading Prompt: Predicting Unfamiliar Words
Mike Duffy’s situation is often described as a scandal. Do you know what this word means? Explain it using your own words and then look up a definition online or in a dictionary.

Do you think Mike Duffy’s situation is a scandal? Why or why not?

Junior and Intermediate
Predict the meaning of and rapidly solve unfamiliar words using different types of cues, including: semantic, syntactic, graphophonic (OME, Reading: 3.2).

Language Feature: Nationalities
Mike Duffy was born in Prince Edward Island so his nationality is Canadian. What are the nationalities of people born in the following countries:
1. America _______________
2. New Zealand _______________
3. France _______________
4. Egypt _______________
5. England _______________
6. China _______________
7. Thailand _______________