Mike Duffy should resign, opponents say

Teresa Wright
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CAVENDISH, P.E.I. - Local and federal politicians are calling for P.E.I. Senator Mike Duffy to resign and a full investigation to be launched into the involvement of the prime minister’s office in Duffy’s repayment of improperly-claimed residency expenses.

Senator Mike Duffy

Reaction Wednesday over news that Duffy received a $90,000 gift from the prime minister’s chief of staff to repay the residency expenses was fast and fierce in P.E.I. and in Ottawa.

Charlottetown MP Sean Casey says he believes Duffy should resign.

“He’s shown very poor judgment and the degree to which the prime minister’s office has supported and stood behind him casts very serious questions on their judgment.”

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesperson Andrew MacDougall confirmed Harper’s chief of staff, Nigel Wright, wrote Duffy a personal cheque for $90,172 to allow Duffy to pay back expenses he claimed in housing allowance for his home in Kanata, near Ottawa. He claimed this was his secondary residence and that his cottage in Cavendish is his primary home.

Independent auditor Deloitte investigated the matter and found Duffy spends only 30 per cent of his time in P.E.I. Duffy released a statement last week saying he and his wife “came to the conclusion that repaying the $90,000 was the right thing to do.”

But MacDougall said Duffy was “unable to make a timely repayment.” National media outlets are reporting Duffy and Wright are friends and Wright, who is a wealthy businessman, gave Duffy the money out of fear for his health.

The federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner is now looking into the matter.

Senate conflict of interest code rules require senators to disclose all gifts over $500 and bar senators from accepting gifts ‘considered to relate to the senator’s position.’

The PMO made no apologies for the deal between Wright and Duffy Wednesday.

“We believe that taxpayers should not be on the hook for improper expense claims made by Senators,” MacDougall said in his statement, adding that Senators Mac Harb and Patrick Brazeau, who were also found to have improperly billed taxpayers for housing expenses, should likewise “pay taxpayers back immediately.”

Malpeque MP Wayne Easter said he is not surprised at the close connection between Duffy’s expense scandal and the PMO, but said the money is a distraction from the real issue of Duffy’s eligibility to be a P.E.I. senator in the first place.

“The constitutional requirement is that a Senate appointee must be a resident of the region they represent. In my opinion, Duffy is not,” Easter said.

“If he’s not a resident here he shouldn’t be a senator.”

NDP MP Charlie Angus, who has been hammering government in the House of Commons on Duffy’s residency concerns since they were first raised earlier this year, said he finds the whole situation ‘absolutely appalling.’

“What we’re talking about is money that was taken from the taxpayer that Mr. Duffy wasn’t entitled to, and now we find out that, rather than doing the honourable thing, rather than fessing up there was a deal cooked up right in the prime minister’s office to pay this off and make it go away,” Angus said in an interview.

“I think it cuts to the very heart of this prime minister’s leadership.”

Both he and Casey are calling for an independent investigation into matter, similar to the one conducted into the Mulroney-Schreiber affair.

“(Harper) needs to come clean with the Canadian people, he needs to show he takes this seriously and he needs to establish an investigative process so that we can get to the bottom of this,” Angus said.

The Guardian contacted all of P.E.I.’s MPs and senators for comment on this story. Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay was unavailable for an interview. Senators Catherine Callbeck, Percy Downe and Libbe Hubley would not provide comment.

P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz also refused to speak on the matter

National Revenue Minister and Egmont MP Gail Shea was not made available for an interview, but a spokesperson with her office echoed the statements made by the PMO.

“The government believes that taxpayers should not be on the hook for improper expense claims made by senators,” Shea’s spokesperson Clake Olsen said in an emailed statement to The Guardian.

“No taxpayer funds were used to repay the expenses.”

The Guardian also attempted to reach Duffy for comment, but received no response.

 

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

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Recent comments

  • hugh mackenxie
    May 16, 2013 - 14:04

    just another conservative-reform-alliance party,( hereafter referred to as CRAP PARTY) member at the trough. the time has come to HEAVE STEVE!

  • R. J. Langille
    May 16, 2013 - 12:09

    Good stuff, "Watchdog." However, if MacKay, as Minister of Defence, is so powerless as to fail at enforcing a contract his government has with Pictou County Health Authority, to feed local veterans, do you really think his opinion on the Duffy scandal, or any thing else for that matter, has any relevance whatsoever here at home?

  • Dave Bernas
    May 16, 2013 - 07:55

    They should all be charged with fraud the same as a citizen. Immediately expelled and or fired. Made an example of by the law courts since these crooks are in a position of public trust. Forced to pay the Country back and fined. Fraud is Fraud in this country.......and is an indictable offence. The reformatories are the ones who will suffer in the end if they don't do the honorable thing. It is Harper who promised some kind of upper Senate reform or abolishment. A good way to down size the government and put those savings into the Health or Education system while creating some jobs for those snoozing backbenchers that we are already paying for.

    • lisa creamer
      May 17, 2013 - 19:36

      What is wrong with our government lately that makes them say and or do criminal acts with such a sense of entitlement. I for one am ashamed of our governments arrogance and lack of consequence for misguided, immoral and down right illegal activity. We deserve better...we deserve answers....we deserve responsible govenment. When they are asked a question they should answer it. When they are investigated they should be charged when guilty. People please don't let this be our legacy because we can be heard only if we speak out. There are numerous politicians that should be made examples of. Absolutely not acceptable.

  • Dave Bernas
    May 16, 2013 - 07:36

    Fraud is Fraud. Fired Charge them as they would a citizen... Boot them out or force them to resign... No pay until the law courts are thru with them. Pay back and fine as they would for defrauding the EI system.

  • John
    May 16, 2013 - 06:53

    Resign??? He should be in jail for stealing tax payer money!!!!! Crooks, the whole lot of them! Didn't Harper want to abolish the senate? Another lie from the Harper Government?

  • watchdog
    May 16, 2013 - 06:28

    In the making od laws, which come from a legislative body, every person there engaged has to be of the highest ethical standard and swears an oath to uphold the highest of Canadian standards. I often hear the expression moral authourity. Mr Duffy does not appear to meet these standards even in their lowest form and therefore should do the honourable thing and resign immediately. To me this man is ethically challanged, not to mention appears to be unable to live with in his considerable means while belonging to a government party which is doing its outmost to make collecting EI benifits for people who have paid into extremely difficult. This is not to mention a government which leads people to believe it is tough on crime and then a member of his inner circle helps Mr. Duffy repay what he has taken unlawfuly. Our MP for Central Nova has said nothing in this matter so what does that lead the masses to conclude, in this case I am saying nothing negative about Peter MacKay and leave it entirely to him to show the what he says about the situation. However that being said if he says nothing to condem Mr. duff and Mr Wright I would believe in a court of law he would be found to be complicit if it were a criminal trial.