© Heather Taweel
Author Dan Leger says the Mike Duffy story is a compelling one because it echoes the age-old tale of someone who flew too close to the son.
Allegations that P.E.I. Senator Mike Duffy fathered a child with a convicted drug smuggler may be personal and salacious, but they’re fair game in today’s world of politics, says former newspaper editor and Duffy biographer Dan Leger.
The explosive allegations, contained in a recent MacLean’s Magazine article, are being made by Karen Duffy, a 32-year-old Peruvian woman. She insists Duffy is her father and has filed a civil suit in a Peru court to try to prove this is true.
The article sent shockwaves across the country, with most political watchers expressing surprise at the allegations. Leger, who recently wrote a book about Duffy’s life, was no exception.
“I was as surprised as anyone when I saw the story,” he said.
Leger spent months researching all things Mike Duffy and interviewed over 30 people for his book, Duffy: Stardom to Senate to Scandal, which hit bookstores in March.
The book chronicles Duffy’s life from the time he was born in Charlottetown in the 1940s to the day he was unceremoniously suspended from the Red Chamber last fall amid a national scandal surrounding his housing expenses.
In all his research, neither an affair with a convicted drug mule nor an unacknowledged child ever came up, Leger said.
“It kind of does fit in with what I know of Mike Duffy, in that he was pretty careless about his personal life,” Leger said.
“But these things happen to people and I can understand how they happen. This sounds like another thing that will only make his heart problems worse.”
In the MacLean’s article, Karen Duffy alleges her mother met Mike Duffy after she was convicted of trying to smuggle cocaine into the country. She says her mother, Yvette Benites, was at the Kingston Prison for Women at the same time Duffy’s sister was serving time there in the late 1970s.
After being granted parole, Karen Duffy claims her mother brought Duffy a gift from his sister and a romance blossomed soon afterward. She claims Benites only told Duffy about the pregnancy the day before she was deported back to Peru in 1981.
Karen Duffy claims she does not want money or Canadian citizenship, but merely wants a connection with the man she believes to be her father.
In a statement to the magazine, Duffy says the article “contains untrue allegations, made by a convicted narcotics smuggler.”
Many have taken issue with the article, pointing to the intensely personal nature of the allegations and the fact they stem from events that occurred decades before he was a politician.
Leger says he came upon other salacious details of Duffy’s life in his own research, but did not include them in his book because they were irrelevant.
“I don’t see how what happened 30 years ago has any bearing on his life today,” Leger said.
However, the former newspaper editor says he would have been in favour of running the MacLean’s story if it had been up to him.
“He is a public figure, and I wonder if they found out something similar about Justin Trudeau or a Liberal senator, whether the Conservatives wouldn’t find a way to make it public. Politics is a rough sport these days.”
Also, Leger points out Duffy did not outright deny the paternity claim.
“(The story) appears to be sound, and Duffy’s response is not a denial,” Leger said.
“But in the grand scheme of things, this has no bearing on his role as a senator so the public interest in this is purely salacious.”
The Guardian has not been able to verify the claims made in the MacLean’s article. A request to Duffy for comment was not immediately returned.