One of the biggest scandals in recent Canadian history made its first appearance in court Tuesday, but the man at the heart of the case did not.
The lawyer of embattled suspended senator Mike Duffy, Donald Bayne, appeared on his behalf in the Ontario Court of Justice and asked if the defence could return Sept. 23 to set a date for trial, skipping a preliminary trial.
Outside of court Bayne told reporters he expects the six-to-eight-week court case to prove Duffy has done nothing wrong and didn't rule out requesting Prime Minister Stephen Harper testify in the case.
The push for a quick trial means the case could be conducted during an election year, but Bayne insisted the trial was not political or even personal.
"The very strong judiciary in the Ontario Court of Justice will not allow this case to turn into a political circus," Bayne said. "We certainly don't intend to conduct the matter that way."
Duffy is charged with 31 counts that include fraud, breach of trust and bribery related to his expense claims as well as an alleged $90,000 cheque given to him by Prime Minister Harper's former chief of staff.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.
Duffy suffering health, money problems: lawyer
Bayne told reporters Duffy has health and financial problems, which need to be taken into consideration and could be the reason for the expedited trial.
One reporter asked Bayne how Duffy could afford a "high priced lawyer" if he has financial problems and asked who was paying for the former journalist's defence.
"What makes you think I'm a high-priced lawyer?" Bayne responded before going inside the courthouse.
Duffy was appointed to Senate as a Conservative on the advice of Harper in 2008.
In 2009, Duffy was found to be in breach of industry standards by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council for airing and discussing three "false start" interviews of Stéphane Dion when he was a journalist with CTV in 2008.
Duffy found controversy again in 2010 when he slammed journalism schools for teaching students critical thinking.