Mike Duffy does not want to be a distraction

The Senator will repay those living expenses

by Aaron Wherry

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.”

Senator Duffy has also now spoken to CTV. His tab for living expenses is reported to be a little over $42,000.

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.




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Mike Duffy does not want to be a distraction

  1. Hard to criticize him when he’s giving the money back, even if he’s spinning it rather hard.

    Then again, this is the same Senator who, when pressed by reporters about his primary residence and the housing allowance stuff said, “It’s none of your business. I’ve said too much already. When it’s all over, you all will be very embarrassed.”

    It seems to me that many critics who said that these expenses were crazy and inappropriate would likely feel more a sense of vindication today than embarrassment.

    • No it isn’t. Because the question immediately rises.. would he have done so if he hadn’t gotten caught?

      • Fair point.

        That said, it’s not entirely clear, still, that he “got caught” per se. While the expenses seem ridiculous, that’s not quite the same thing as whether or not they’re “allowed”. It would seem pretty obvious to most, I think, that it takes a fair bit of gall to even apply for the type of allowance that Duffy applied for, but I do think there’s an argument to be made that Duffy is in fact technically entitled to that entitlement. How strong that argument is (and whether or not a Senator SHOULD be entitled to that sort of entitlement) is another question entirely, of course.

  2. So, can Glen McGregor expect an apology? The “B.S.” he stirred up just coerced Mr. Duffy to return $42,000.

    • Shhh … he’s controversial.

  3. Er, I don’t think the final statement in your blog post would be from the Conservative Senate Leader.

  4. Repaying the money is not the issue. He’s not a resident of PEI therefore under the Constitution he is disqualified from being a Senator representing PEI. Repaying money gain through fraud doesn’t wash away that issue. And it doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be prosecuted and censured for both.

    • Not quite. The issue is not his current residence (Ottawa is an exception under the Constitution, actually), but whether his residence when he was appointed.

  5. Duffy’s Irish, so it’s understandable he’d want a Mulligan.

  6. If he wants to meet the residency qualifications for his cushy little sinecure, I guess the neighbours can expect to see him hanging out at the nondescript little cottage in Cavendish a whole lot more.

    They might even get to meet him.

  7. I didn’t see the interview. Did he tug his ear ? It doesn’t
    count if he didn’t tug his ear … and glance downward
    between sentences ..

  8. Three points:

    1. He shouldn’t have been claiming the money on a common sense basis.

    2. Appendix E is genuinely confusing. The term “primary residence” and “for the purpose of [Budget 1998] primary residence within the province or territory that I represent” are used as very different terms without capitalization, italics, headings, or other distinguishing features. If they are treated as the same term, then this sort of confusion results.

    3. The Constitution requires you to own land and “be resident” in the province you represent. If you no longer maintain your residence in the province you are disqualified. Living in Ottawa to be a Senator is an exception. Mike Duffy moved from PEI to Ottawa to work. He owned PEI property before being appointed (I don’t know if this was for minutes or for years). He continues to live in Ottawa. His continued time in Ottawa does not disqualify him. The only issue is (a) whether he was never qualified because he never moved his residence back from Ottawa to PEI, or (b) “be resident” under the Constitution should be read more liberally (no pun intended) to mean merely owning property (which would be redundant, but would also, I suspect, put many other Senators’ appointments, past and present, into question).

  9. Without getting into the detail of any of the latest expense, residence, fundraising or attendance scandals, I consider all of the senators, Conservative or Liberal, to be hacks.
    Here is why:

    The senate trough corrupts these people.

    Where in the last hundred years, were the senators who had the personal integrity to retire from the senate after four or five years of serving?

    Where was the senator who recognized, that in a democracy no one ought to assume a right to be appointed for life, to any political institution?

    Where is the senator who out of respect for democracy, has made the personal decision to serve no longer, than the equivalent of one term in the elected House of Commons? Who in the senate has had the personal integrity to step aside?

    Let’s face it, Mike Duffy and all of his Conservative and Liberal senate colleagues, enjoy the swill of partisan privilege. Let’s tell the leaders of the two parties responsible that we have had enough.

    It’s time to save these democracy-challenged folks from themselves. It is high time to
    abolish the senate trough.

    • Their longstanding presence in the senate, at our legislature, is a feature, not a bug.

      Eliminate that, and you truly have made a senate with no purpose.

  10. Nice to see Stephane Dion getting in a few licks on one of the TV shows.
    After all, he’s the reason Mike Duffy is even in the Senate.

  11. For someone who should have mastered the media after a lifetime career practicing the craft, he comes off looking quite clumsy when trying to spin this story on his own behalf.

  12. And to think we have to pay these unelected, privileged appointees a pension for many years to come. Mind-boggling.

    • Hey, at least they’ll be working for those many years to come. Pierre Polievre is only 33 and if he quits now, we’ll be paying him for the rest of his life while he does absolutely nothing. Looking at life-expectancies.. that’s over half of his entire life that would be funded by the taxpayer with no expectations of service in return.

      There used to be a party that was against these pensions.. I forget who it was lead by though..

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