RCMP documents raise new questions about Duffy: law expert

Teresa Wright
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CHARLOTTETOWN - P.E.I. Senator Mike Duffy’s primary residence is in Ottawa, not in Prince Edward Island, RCMP court documents assert, raising new questions about Duffy’s eligibility for his Senate seat.

Senator Mike Duffy arrives on Parliament Hill for a meeting of the Senate Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration committee on Parliament Hill on May 9, 2013 in Ottawa.

In a document released by an Ottawa court last week, RCMP Cpl. Greg Horton details three different allegations being investigated related to Duffy.

One of the allegations is that Duffy committed a breach of trust for collecting housing allowance for his home in Ottawa, claiming it was his secondary residence.

Horton points to reports conducted by both the external auditing firm Deloitte and the Senate Standing Committee on Internal Economy. They “concluded Duffy’s continuous presence at his Ottawa residence does not support the claim that it is his secondary residence,” Horton states in the document, called an ‘Information to Obtain a Production Order,’ filed in Ottawa June 24.

“I too believe that Duffy’s primary residence is in Ottawa, not P.E.I.,” Horton states.

To support this claim, he provides a chronological timeline of the Senate expenses controversy. It shows Duffy has lived in Ottawa since 1977 and has only one piece of identification to tie him to the Island – his driver’s license.

But, according to licence records, Duffy held an Ontario driver’s licence right up until the day he was appointed to the Senate.

Licence records examined by the RCMP also contain a notation that he became a P.E.I. resident on Dec. 22, 2008, the same date he was announced the new senator for Prince Edward Island.

Horton also details his investigation into Duffy’s attempt to obtain a P.E.I. health card.

Health Minister Doug Currie, Currie’s administrative assistant, Sandra Acorn, and a department staff person, were interviewed by the RCMP in May. They confirmed Duffy personally called the health minister’s office in December 2012, looking to speak with Currie, who was not available.

“He then proceeded to ask Ms. Acorn about the application process. Ms. Acorn was later contacted two more times that same day by Mary McQuaid from Duffy’s office, asking to have Duffy’s provincial health card application expedited, assuring her that if it was, it would be kept confidential,” the court documents state.

It was not expedited.

Horton further points out Duffy lists his Ottawa address as his ‘permanent residence’ on his Canadian passport and also for his incorporated company, Mike Duffy Media Services Inc.

“I believe that Senator Duffy has demonstrated a pattern of filing fraudulent expense claims,” Horton states in his application to the court.

“He maintains his primary residence is in P.E.I. so that he can collect housing allowance and travel allowances from the Senate, however uses his Ottawa residence as his primary residence when convenient…”

A constitutional law expert says the RCMP’s criminal allegations raise questions not only about Duffy’s expense claims, but also about his eligibility for his Senate seat.

“He didn’t live here when he was appointed, and he is supposed to. That’s the Constitutional requirement for qualification,” says David Bulger, who taught constitutional law at the University of Prince Edward Island for years before his recent retirement.

Bulger first raised questions about Duffy’s eligibility for P.E.I.’s Senate seat in 2008, just after Duffy was named to the Red Chamber. He now suggests, due to the fact Duffy did not meet the requirements since his initial appointment, Duffy’s Senate seat has been vacant since December of 2008.

“It seems to me that the words on the page are plain… the phrase the Constitution uses is ‘he shall be resident in the province,’ and he just never met that requirement,” Bulger said.

“I think the Senate has everything they need to say the appointment was unconstitutional and he hasn’t met the residency requirements since he was appointed.”

Organizations: RCMP, Deloitte, Senate Standing Committee on Internal Economy Mike Duffy Media Services University of Prince Edward Island Red Chamber

Geographic location: Ottawa, Prince Edward Island, Ontario

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  • Bob in N.S.
    July 09, 2013 - 07:36

    First of all I feel that the powers that be should throw the book at Duffy,but there is something wrong with the whole process. Take for instance that the government tells us as consumers to be aware of the dangers of making large purchases without proper scrutiny.Well,dont you think that when it comes to a high paying position as being a senator that the government of the day should practice what they preach and investigate every possible angle before an appointment is made? Don't get too excited about that prospect because if it were the norm,the prime minister of the day could not fast track his pals into this do nothing job with an exorbitant pay. I think that if it is possible for Duffy to do jail time that he should share his cell with those in power who provided the means for this crime to take place.

  • chief wiggam
    July 09, 2013 - 06:44

    thanks harper... what abouthat bending/breaking rule etc. stuff you were saying?