Senator Mike Duffy apparently visited the CBC studio in Charlottetown this afternoon to say he’ll be paying back the living expenses he claimed in regards to his home in Ottawa.
“Everywhere I go, people are talking. Well where do you live? What’s it all about? …,” he said. “It’s become a major distraction. “So my wife and I discussed it, and we decided that in order to turn the page, to put all this behind us, we are going to voluntarily pay back my living expenses related to the house we have in Ottawa.”
Duffy blamed the Senate for having unclear rules and forms. “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.”
It might still be asked whether Senator Duffy meets the residency requirement included in the Constitution, as non-specific as that clause is.
Update 5:37pm. A statement from Senator Duffy.
Four years ago, I was given the opportunity to sit in the Senate as a voice for Prince Edward Islanders in Ottawa. I jumped at the chance. I was born here, I was raised here, I own a house here, I pay property taxes here, and most important, my heart is here.
I also started my career here, and took my Island sensibilities along when I was covering politics in Ottawa.
Being a Senator has allowed me to do a lot of good for PEI communities. And there is a lot more to be done.
Recently questions have been raised about my eligibility for the housing allowance provided to MPs and Senators.
The Senate rules on housing allowances aren’t clear, and the forms are confusing. I filled out the Senate forms in good faith and believed I was in compliance with the rules.
Now it turns out I may have been mistaken.
Rather than let this issue drag on, my wife and I have decided that the allowance associated with my house in Ottawa will be repaid.
I want there to be no doubt that I’m serving Islanders first.
Update 5:42pm. A Conservative source tells me, “the government has no doubt whatsoever about Senator Duffy’s qualification to represent PEI in the Senate.”
Update 6:05pm. A statement from Conservative Senate Leader Marjory LeBreton.
“We have committed to ensuring that all expenses are appropriate, that the rules governing expenses are appropriate and to report back to the public on these matters. Senator Duffy maintains a residence in Prince Edward Island and has deep ties to the province.”
Update 6:22pm. A statement from NDP MP Charlie Angus.
Mike Duffy now says that he may have made a mistake when claiming tens of thousands of dollars of living expenses in Ottawa. If you break the rules, saying “I’m sorry” just doesn’t cut it. There must be consequences. What discipline will the Senator face?
Mr. Duffy’s track record on this is troubling. He denied any problem and ran away from questions. It seems some Senators will do almost anything to avoid accountability.
If any forms were falsified in order to try and get extra expense money, the Senate should immediately refer the matter to the police.
Senator Duffy has also still not addressed the question of whether he has met the obligations to be a Senator from Prince Edward Island.
Conservatives are now sending out inspectors to the homes of EI recipients. Perhaps what they should be doing is sending out inspectors to the homes of Conservative and Liberal Senators.
While Conservatives continue to defend the entitlements of their Senators, the NDP will continue to stand up for Canadian taxpayers.
The form in question is contained within the official Senators’ Travel Policy as Appendix E.