After CTV broadcaster Mike Duffy filed a defamation suit against the now-defunct Frank magazine in the 1990s, he claimed under oath that the satirical publication's attacks cost him the Order of Canada.
Today, Prime Minister Stephen Harper eased Duffy's pain somewhat by appointing him to the Senate, which pays $134,400 per year. Harper also appointed former CTV broadcaster Pamela Wallin to the Senate today.
On May 5, 1998, Senator Marjory LeBreton, a close associate of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, raised this issue of Duffy's lawsuit against Frank magazine in the Senate. Here’s a transcript of her remarks from the Senate debates that day:
Hon. Marjory LeBreton: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In the Globe and Mail on Saturday, May 2, it was reported that journalist and television host Mike Duffy, in answering questions under oath in an Ontario court action against Frank magazine, made the statement that Mr. Chrétien had told him privately that his treatment in the magazine was the reason he had not been named to the Order of Canada.
This is an interesting revelation in itself because the bestowing of this honour, as the Globe and Mail rightly points out, is not supposed to have anything to do with politics and the Prime Minister.
Who advised the Prime Minister that Mr. Duffy was turned down by the committee which recommends recipients of the Order of Canada?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the committee which recommends recipients of the Order of Canada operates at arm's length from the government. It operates independently, and the committee will consider recommendations from all Canadians. Those who receive the Order of Canada, such as my honourable friends Senator Robichaud and Senator Whelan and others in this chamber, have come by their honours honestly.
I have no specific knowledge of the item to which the honourable senator refers. I do not know whether the matter would be worth pursuing. I would rely on what I have already said, which is that the committee which makes these recommendations acts entirely at arm's length from the government.
Senator LeBreton: Mr. Duffy said - and I would remind you that this is under oath - that the Prime Minister himself told him why he did not win. Reportedly under oath, he also stated: I have been nominated three times and three times the message came from the PCO on the back channel that "Frank is the reason you're not going to get it."
Would it be correct, therefore, to assume that the Prime Minister got this information from the Clerk of the Privy Council who sits on the Order of Canada selection committee?
Senator Graham: That is a hypothetical question on which I would not care to comment.
(Frank magazine recent went out of business, so we'll never get a chance to see what its writers have to say about Duffy's appointment. Duffy and Wallin are the second and third CTV broadcasters to be appointed to the Senate in recent years. Former prime minister Chretien appointed Jim Munson to the Senate in a strange sequence of events that was covered extensively by Frank magazine. According to Frank magazine, then-CTV news boss Kirk LaPointe, now the managing editor of the Vancouver Sun, fired Munson. This apparently riled some powerful people, including Lloyd Robertson and Chretien. Chretien hired Munson as his spokesperson, and later put Munson in the Senate.)