Monday, February 25, 2013

Does Mike Duffy Have 'Pump Head'? - UPDATED

Well, in the tried and true tradition of governments announcing embarrassing news on Fridays, 'P.E.I. Senator' Mike Duffy kinda sorta admitted to maybe an error, thanks to 'confusing senate forms' asking for his primary residence. Not that he did anything wrong, of course, but after 80 days of what Tim Harper calls a sideshow, the rotund representative of the island province told CBC that the issue has become a "major distraction" from the work he's trying to do for Prince Edward Island, the province he represents in the Senate.

"We are going to pay it back, and until the rules are clear — and they're not clear now, the forms are not clear, and I hope the Senate will redo the forms to make them clear — I will not claim the housing allowance."

The following video offers some analysis from Terry Milewski:

How complex or confusing is the form? For a person of normal intellect, not very, as The Rabble points out:

The form Duffy found so confusing asks first of all if a Senator's primary residence is within 100 kilometres or more than 100 kilometres from Parliament Hill. You don't need an advanced degree in geography to figure that out.

For instance, if you live, as Senator Duffy now admits he does, in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata you are about 20 kilometres from Parliament Hill, maybe less.

The form then asks for the address of the Senator's primary residence in the province or territory he or she represents.

Given the good senator's confusion, I also can't help but wonder if there is a story here that the media are missing out on. Mr. Duffy has made much of the fact that he had open-heart surgery in 2006, hence the need for an OHIP card, granted only to those who spend at least 153 days a year physically present in Ontario. As he told CBC,

"I had open heart surgery, ... I'm being intensively followed. The other day I counted up, I have six different doctors … so I have a lot of health problems, and the advice of my doctors was not to make a switch, to stay with them at the Heart Institute in Ottawa. And that's what I've done."

Open-heart surgery, with which I have some familiarity within my own family, entails the heart being stopped and the patient placed on a heart-lung bypass machine for varying lengths of time. An unfortunate byproduct of the procedure can be cognitive imnpairment, known colloquially as 'pump head', with a wide range of cognitive impairments and deficits that can persist and worsen for years. And while I realize that such dysfunction may go largely unnoticed for a long time in our senate as attested to by recent events, it does seem to be a legitimate question to raise in Mr. Duffy's case.

Of course, another legitimate and related question to raise is that if he indeed found the senate forms too confusing to correctly and honestly complete, can he really be competent to discharge his senatorial duties, given that one of them is exposure to excruciating legislative minutia that demands a clear mind to read, understand, and make informed decisions on?

Just wondering, is all.

UPDATE: Here is more analysis by the CBC's Terry Milewski on the issue.


  1. Duffy knew full well what he was doing he made one declaration to receive the housing allowance and a contradictory one to receive OHIP. Having said that the Senate's residency requirement needs to be clarified.

    Given that last year for instance the Senate sat for a total of 88 days and in 2011 it sat for 64, maintaining the provincial standards for residency seems easily met thus would be a good starting point.

  2. In the case of Duffy and Wallin, Lorne, the rule is "where you are from" not "where you reside."

    In other words, as Harper told his security staff some time ago, "I make the rules."

    1. Ah, the joys of autocratic rule, Owen.

  3. Then again, Kev, a senator who is so well-regarded by the Canadian people (Duffy's words, not mine) probably has little opportunity to spend time in P.E.I., given that he must be in demand everywhere ;)

    1. So a popularity exception then? lol

    2. I believe "The Puffster" would wholeheartedly endorse the idea, Kev.

    3. Surely "The Puffster" is in no way a reference to the heretofore unacknowledged anecdotal predilection for cannabis consumption of said Senator.

    4. Actually,Buzz, 'The Puffster' is the sobriquet given to the good senator some years ago by the dearly departed Frank Magazine. Of his recreational habits, I have no special knowledge.