CHARLOTTETOWN - P.E.I. Senator Mike Duffy‚Äôs primary residence is in Ottawa, not in Prince Edward Island, RCMP court documents assert, raising new questions about Duffy‚Äôs eligibility for his Senate seat.
© The Canadian Press
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 ‚Äúconcluded Duffy‚Äôs continuous presence at his Ottawa residence does not support the claim that it is his secondary residence,‚ÄĚ Horton states in the document, called an ‚ÄėInformation to Obtain a Production Order,‚Äô filed in Ottawa June 24.
‚ÄúI too believe that Duffy‚Äôs primary residence is in Ottawa, not P.E.I.,‚ÄĚ 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 ‚Äď his driver‚Äôs license.
But, according to licence records, Duffy held an Ontario driver‚Äôs 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‚Äôs attempt to obtain a P.E.I. health card.
Health Minister Doug Currie, Currie‚Äôs administrative assistant, Sandra Acorn, and a department staff person, were interviewed by the RCMP in May. They confirmed Duffy personally called the health minister‚Äôs office in December 2012, looking to speak with Currie, who was not available.
‚ÄúHe 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‚Äôs office, asking to have Duffy‚Äôs provincial health card application expedited, assuring her that if it was, it would be kept confidential,‚ÄĚ the court documents state.
It was not expedited.
Horton further points out Duffy lists his Ottawa address as his ‚Äėpermanent residence‚Äô on his Canadian passport and also for his incorporated company, Mike Duffy Media Services Inc.
‚ÄúI believe that Senator Duffy has demonstrated a pattern of filing fraudulent expense claims,‚ÄĚ Horton states in his application to the court.
‚ÄúHe 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‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ
A constitutional law expert says the RCMP‚Äôs criminal allegations raise questions not only about Duffy‚Äôs expense claims, but also about his eligibility for his Senate seat.
‚ÄúHe didn‚Äôt live here when he was appointed, and he is supposed to. That‚Äôs the Constitutional requirement for qualification,‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôs eligibility for P.E.I.‚Äôs 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‚Äôs Senate seat has been vacant since December of 2008.
‚ÄúIt seems to me that the words on the page are plain‚Ä¶ the phrase the Constitution uses is ‚Äėhe shall be resident in the province,‚Äô and he just never met that requirement,‚ÄĚ Bulger said.
‚ÄúI think the Senate has everything they need to say the appointment was unconstitutional and he hasn‚Äôt met the residency requirements since he was appointed.‚ÄĚ