Senators expenses in riding paid by campaign
Cumberland Colchester Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong says the controversy around Sen. Mike Duffy is another reason why the Senate needs to be reformed.
TRURO – The controversy over Senator Mike Duffy’s expense claims is adding cannon fodder for reforming the Senate, says Conservative MP Scott Armstrong.
The Cumberland Colchester Musquodoboit Valley MP said Friday he has long believed the Senate needs to be either elected by Canadians or abolished.
“My position on that is no secret, I believe we need an elected Senate or it has to be abolished,” Armstrong said after attending a funding announcement in Truro. “There have been a lot of incidents in the Senate over the years. The problem is it’s unaccountable. That’s the problem. They’re appointed and they’re there until they’re 75. They’re not accountable.”
Armstrong’s comments come a day after the Prince Edward Island senator resigned from the Conservative caucus over controversy relating to his living and travel claims.
The Conservative MP, who is also the chairman of the Atlantic caucus chair, said senators don’t have the oversight and transparency that’s in the House of Commons.
“There are a lot of senators who have never been accused of anything that go about their business every day and there’s never any accusations. But when this happens, it paints everyone. The problem is systemic and that’s why we are trying to change the legislation to have an elected Senate.”
Those attempts, however, have been tied up in the courts since the provinces have to agree and Quebec doesn’t agree.
Duffy said in April that he had already repaid more than $90,000 in housing and living expenses that he had inappropriately claimed over four years. Last week, it was confirmed that the prime minister’s chief of staff, Nigel Wright, had written a personal cheque to repay Duffy’s living expenses.
The Canadian Press reported last week that Duffy submitted expense claims while Parliament was dissolved during the last federal election, reporting he was on Senate business on days he appeared to be campaigning for the party.
Independent auditors at the firm Deloitte listed Duffy as being in Ottawa on Senate business and claiming a daily expense for seven days.
Armstrong confirmed the senator and former journalist appeared at a pair of campaign events in Amherst and Truro in April 2011, but said he’s not aware of Duffy claiming expenses for those.
Armstrong’s campaign paid Duffy $409.91 in expenses.
“He came here during the campaign and under the Elections Canada rules you have to cover their expenses as a campaign expense,” Armstrong said. “We are required by law to do that. He stayed overnight in a hotel in Truro, there were two meals and car rental. It has to come out of the political campaign expenses and that’s how it was done.”
Armstrong said to his knowledge Duffy did not claim any Senate expenses when he was in the riding.
“Either way, I can’t control his expenses and what he claims and doesn’t claim. If he did, he shouldn’t have,” Armstrong said.