Pay back time for Mike Duffy

Teresa Wright
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Conservative Senator Mike Duffy says he will pay back the thousands of dollars he has claimed for living expenses in Ottawa but maintains he is a resident of Prince Edward Island.

Duffy has faced a storm of controversy over the past month as questions about his residency and living expense claims have dominated national headlines.

On Friday evening, Duffy admitted he might have erred when filling out his declaration of primary and secondary residences.

CLICK HERE TO READ GUARDIAN COLUMNIST'S RICK MACLEAN'S TAKE ON THE MIKE DUFFY STORY.

"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," Duffy wrote in a public statement Friday.

"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."

Duffy and three other senator's living expense claims are currently the subject of an external audit.

Duffy has claimed more than $33,000 in housing allowance for his home in Ottawa since September 2010, even though he bought the home in Kanata before his appointment to the red chamber.

It's this money he says he will now pay back.

But the Senate is also seeking legal advice on how to deal with the issue of Duffy's residency in P.E.I. after questions were raised about whether he is a true resident of the province.

All senators sign a yearly declaration saying their primary residence is in the province they represent.

Duffy has claimed a cottage he owns in Cavendish as his primary residence.

But P.E.I. government tax records identify Duffy and his wife as non-resident owners of this cottage. As non-residents, they pay 50 per cent more in property taxes.

The Guardian spent time in Cavendish earlier this month and noted the road on which Duffy's cottage is located had not been plowed after a recent storm. Neighbours and local year-round residents of the resort municipality said they have rarely, if ever, seen the senator in the area.

Duffy explained to reporters earlier this week he rents a place in Charlottetown during the snowy winter months. The Guardian has learned he stays at the Inns on Great George, a four-and-a-half star hotel, when he is in Charlottetown.

"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," Conservative Senator Mike Duffy

But other than a few brief comments, the journalist-turned-senator has avoided all media requests on the issue of his residency and even exited a recent public appearance through a hotel kitchen to avoid reporters.

Then on Friday, Duffy requested a live interview on CBC Charlottetown's local supper hour newscast after which he traveled to the Delta hotel for a live interview with CTV to make the announcement he would pay the living expenses he has claimed back.

When The Guardian approached him for comment, Duffy refused, saying only that he was 'too busy' before getting into his car and driving away.

Duffy told CBC he remains firm he is a true P.E.I. resident.

"I'm an Island resident and I'm entitled to be a senator, I've met all of those requirements. The question is really one of accounting."

But Malpeque MP Wayne Easter believes the question of Duffy's residency is yet unanswered.

It's a concern because senators are required by the Constitution to be residents of the provinces they represent, he said.

"The key question still remains with the residency requirements. That's still a huge question mark," Easter said

"(The Constitution) was drafted for a reason, it was so the senator of a region would represent the people of that region, would rub shoulders with them, would know how they live, know how difficult it is to get to the hospital in a snowstorm."

Senator David Tkachuk, who chairs the senate committee reviewing all senators' expenses, said Friday the committee had not yet heard formally from Duffy.

"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. The Steering Committee will be meeting to discuss this next week."

 

(With a file from Jordan Press of Postmedia News)

 

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

 

 

 

Organizations: CBC, Delta hotel, CTV Steering Committee Jordan Press of Postmedia News

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Ottawa, Cavendish Charlottetown Kanata

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Recent comments

  • AMAZED
    February 24, 2013 - 19:45

    Payback must include a plea of guilty to fraud.Does anyone really beleive he could not understand the forms.The only thing worse would be if they replaced Duffy with Binns or any of hisTory cronies while he was in power, now there was era of arrogance and contempt,too bad Ghiz still heeds advice from some of his henchmen.

  • Mel
    February 24, 2013 - 17:36

    What a bunch of crap! Has he been paying double taxes like other summer residents on summer property while living in Ottawa and not having a legitimate health card for PEI?? This cheater does not deserve to be a Senator and on the taxpayers' gravy train!

  • Muckraker
    February 24, 2013 - 15:52

    Toronto Star reprint of old FRANK magazine story states Mike had a previous Criminal Code conviction ...for impaired driving?? http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2013/02/22/memories_of_mike_duffy_lawsuits_and_smear_campaigns.html An "ordinary citizen" with such a conviction usually faces not only some severe penalties and public distain as well as a future impediment to employment If true ,should not a previous criminal record exclude anyone from a Senate appointment ....and a goldplated benefit package.....or maybe ia prior criminal record is looked as a qualification? What light can the Guardian shed on this ....both the truth of the conviction and the possible implication of the conviction on that appointment ?

  • SG
    February 24, 2013 - 14:17

    If the Senate Regulations are so difficult to understand and the Senate Expense Application/Report is so Confusing how come the other 104 Senators didn't have any problems understanding it or completing the same? If Senator Duffy resides in Cavendish during the Summer how come neither his neighbours living behind and beside his cottage nor the residents in his cottage area that were Interviewed stated they had Never Seen him? If Duffy resides at the Great George Inn in Ch'town during his "Visits" in Winter how come residents in Ch'town were not aware of this? If he has Six Heart Specialists in Ottawa why would he not have a PEI Health Care Card given his Heart Condition is so Serious? I had no problem getting a PEI Health Care Card. I also have a Serious Health Condition and make 5 trips per week every week to the QE Hospital. I have also had to make trips to the S'Side Hospital. I don't receive a travel allowance! I am truly grateful for the parking pass I receive after every treatment at the Centre and our Expert, Caring, Compassionate Staff . Thank You. I feel Senator Duffy needs to Resign Now. If he doesn't choose to do so then our Prime Minister needs to request he Step Down along with paying back his living expenses.

  • Gerry
    February 24, 2013 - 14:10

    More than the abusive senators' heads should roll. Who are the government officials who have been repeatedly signing-off (under the Financial Administration Act) that the claimed expenses have been verified as "valid?" Are senators' expenses exempt from Treasury Board guidelines, etc., if so, why so? Time to purge the Senate and its' support staff who are knowingly turning a blind eye to the blatant thievery. Where is the "whistle blower" protection, or is that another joke?

  • Gerry
    February 24, 2013 - 14:00

    More than the abusive senators' heads should roll. Who are the government officials who have been repeatedly signing-off (under the Financial Administration Act) that the claimed expenses have been verified as "valid?" Are senators' expenses exempt from Treasury Board guidelines, etc., if so, why so? Time to purge the Senate and its' support staff who are knowingly turning a blind eye to the blatant thievery. Where is the "whistle blower" protection, or is that another joke?

  • Captain Canuck
    February 24, 2013 - 13:31

    Sigh. Love the investigative journalist: Mike Duffy, the most intelligent man on Parliament Hill, yet he is suddenly not capable of understanding a simple rule. He blinded me with science political for a generation, and wowed me with ignorance with something as simple as a bank statement as a "fat-cat" senator. (P.S. Sorry and thanks, Jocelyn, if you can't allow some of my more more flowery language to be posted! You're a good sober second thought.)

  • Brian Duffy
    February 24, 2013 - 13:05

    Come on people everyone makes mistakes .When are you going to leave Mr Duffy be as he told you he has a temporary residence in Charlottetown and lives in Cavendish in the summer???You would think he committed a homicide or something all he did was make a simple mistake on a form ...like we haven't made a mistake before on a piece of paper .Keep up the good work you are doing for P E I like you were appointed to do ...have a nice day and thank you for reading

    • Island Boy
      February 24, 2013 - 14:49

      What planet are you on Brian Duffy??? It is more than messing up expenses, Islanders do NOT want Mike Duffy to represent them in the Senate. He has totally sold out Island Veterans; EI applicants; tax payers with questions and etc to act as Harper"s mouthpiece. He not only owes paying back what he has Taken but he also owes Islanders an apology for short changing their representation in the Senate.

    • Captain Canuck
      February 24, 2013 - 15:27

      It would be nice to be able to come to Mike Duffy's aid, Brian, but really - a mistake like that is the hallmark of someone unable to so much as understand the "Balancde Due" field on a monthly phone bill. If he were to make "mistakes" like this then his finances would be in a horrible state and the mind that comes with that kind of person would not be that of a political genious - which Mike Duffy is! It is not possible to consider this a mistake. It is also not possible to prove otherwise in a court, so we'll have him get away with it because of his and the Senate's public profiles.

    • Bill Kays
      February 24, 2013 - 15:52

      Brian, the big deal is this. Mike Duffy is not a regular person, he is a politician. Politicians (leaders) are supposed to be vetted and or held up to higher standards than the rest of us poor fools because after all, they are the new royalty and can do no wrong. All they ever do (and it seems the only things they do) is make mistakes. All politicians are liars because they will not tell you the whole truth. They deal continually in the gray areas, with holding vital info because they deem "the public couldn't handle it". One thing you can be sure of is this. The more Duffy tries to defend himself the more guilty he looks. TELL HIM TO RESIGN. IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

  • statler
    February 24, 2013 - 12:02

    The count is at 31 comments so far and not one good word for ol Duff what dose that tell you???

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    February 24, 2013 - 12:00

    Public officials used to resign at the merest hint or possibility of inappropriate behavior or alleged wrong doing. Why does that not happen anymore? When did it become ok to "hold office" or "stay in power" ? You see, all politicians are now corrupt. If they were not all corrupt, the uncorrupted ones would stand up to corrupted ones and call them on their corrupted practices. THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION IS - no one resigns anymore because they are not made to, there are no more righteous standards to uphold because the whole entire system is corrupt.

  • Arrogance
    February 24, 2013 - 11:59

    When you travel in the circles of the "high and mighty", it's not long before you are as arrogant and proud as they. Remember, "pride goeth before the fall"!!

  • marcus
    February 24, 2013 - 11:00

    The bigger you get, the harder you fall. Maybe it's time to take a fiscal diet and reassess your lifestyle Mike.

  • Donnie
    February 24, 2013 - 10:06

    Look Mr. Duffy, there are rules. Corrupt appointees to the Senate, after years of voting their party lines, usuallly as MP's, and walking that fine line of looking like they're doing enough to be re-elected but still really only voting as the party tells them, must reside in the province that they fail to represent. It's democracy. Gail Shea has paid her dues by running out the doors when it came time to vote on employment insurance, it's only fair that you step down and the next Tory drone be allowed to fill the seat. It doesn't matter who fills it after all, Harper is just going to put in another of the party faithful, and you're all interchangeable, but at least he'll get credit for tossing in a female Tory drone to replace you. Just tell yourself it's for the good of the party, like you've done for every vote during your entire political career, and it'll be easier to swallow. Then you can go "retire" to your permanent residence in Ottawa and go back to being a political pundit for the Tories.

  • Allan C
    February 24, 2013 - 09:36

    The arrogance of this man astounds me...." islanders know Gail and i will be coming with the cash" He couldn't even sit down with Bruce for 2 GD minutes and address the issue with any semblance of honesty. We must speak out against this CFA (come from away) appointment. Surely there is a way to rid ourselves of such un-elected, embarrassing representation!

  • bye the way
    February 24, 2013 - 09:05

    February was a bad month for Groundhog Duff...he didn't know which den to run back into when he saw his shadow in Halifax...there certainly is 6 more weeks of winter left for him ...here on the Island anyway. I'm sure Harper has the Crocus blooming for him on the Hill .

  • pinochio'swatcher
    February 24, 2013 - 08:51

    Nice move Duffy. Trying to keep ahead of a fraud charge? I would like to see the application for myself and see how this mistake was made. Bottom line for me is that Duffy is still trying to pull a fast one. He doesn't live on PEI. PERIOD. We can be sure that if this same scenerio involved someone with NDP or Liberal history, he'd be placing his well fed round face infront of every camera he could find to squawk in his usually form. I have zero respect for a person with this character. He doesn't represent me as an Islander, that is for sure. He's an embarrassment.

  • Jim Jimmerson
    February 24, 2013 - 08:19

    I looked at the form on twitter and even re-tweeted it @dumbersidepei and if Mr.Duffy finds it confusing than he should also have his drivers license revoked because a 10 year old child could fill out that form.

  • Marie
    February 24, 2013 - 08:16

    Me thinks the math/cash problem goes a lot higher than theiving Senators!!! Does Tkachuk not feel a bit stupid...at this late point...to say he's doing HIS job???? I can't believe he admits that reviewing senator expenses is his job. Apparently not doing a very good job of it hahaha Government math 101 LOL "Senator David Tkachuk, who chairs the senate committee reviewing all senators' expenses, said Friday the committee had not yet heard formally from Duffy. "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. The Steering Committee will be meeting to discuss this next week" Should discuss why they're NOT DOING THEIR JOBS!!!

  • marlowe blue
    February 23, 2013 - 22:22

    I would like to see a complete audit of mr. duffy,s expenses made.he somehow went through more than 104,000 dollars in just three months after becoming a senator..in fact i would like to see a complete audit of all senators, mps and mla made public.These people are using the taxpayers for a trough deeper than the mirianna trench and it just has to stop regardless of what political party is involved.Some of these folks like mr.duffy feel they have an unlimited right to suck up the taxpayers money and no matter how immoral or wrong it is they feel somehow entitled..make all of these expense accounts public for scrutiny might embarras them enough to stop doing it ,though not likely will they stop until the public gets mad enough...make all expense accounts open to the public is my thought for the day

  • Just a Mistake
    February 23, 2013 - 21:21

    This is the good ol' Duff we Islanders know. I knew all along it was a simple mistake and if he thought for a minute he did anything wrong he'd pay it back. So all you bad mouthers who's, embarrassed now? The Duff I know and trust did the right thing and will pay back the money. We need more good honest men like Duff in Ottawa. Thank You Prime Minister Harper for putting such an honorable man in the Senate.

    • Dm
      February 24, 2013 - 02:15

      Well that's the thing most islanders don't know him at all or ever see him because he is and has lived in Ottawa for the last 30 years, have you been following this story at all? Lol no one has seen him for a reason I have never known him to be an honest man as well he is always trying to make himself look good for. Reason I'd say like most ppl that way

  • BCfromBC
    February 23, 2013 - 21:18

    I appreciate reading all of your comments here, as the main stream media across Canada is portraying that Mike Duffy has 100% support from the people in his riding. It is only by reading your posts, that I get the real story. I am sorry to hear he has not represented you well, you deserve better. New polls are showing a majority of Canadians are calling for abolishing the senate. What has your senator done for your riding to help you? How often have you seen him in the riding talking and holding meetings? Has he participated in community gatherings and important events? Does he keep you apprised of what is going on in Ottawa? It appears that he doesn't have a PEI health card nor pay taxes and everyone else realizes that a requirement of being a senator is he must be a resident, so please continue sharing with your fellow Canadians whether he is there with you or not and if he is really doing his job for you or not. It was PM Harper who must have known that Duffy, Wallin and Petersen were not actual residents of their ridings, yet proceeded anyway ignoring the laws and never believing they would some day have to answer to it.

  • marlowe blue
    February 23, 2013 - 21:03

    i would like to know when we get the 104,000 dollars worth of expenses back that he ran up in only the first three or four months after becoming a senator...what in the world were you spending that kind of money on in that short of time??? i certainly hope they audit that too !!!!

  • Will To Peak
    February 23, 2013 - 19:51

    Mike Duffy states that he has done nothing wrong. No one from the senate has said he does not meet residence requirements' but won"t state what they are.They will be changing the rules soon to fit the crime.I"m not sure his heart can take all this travelling.To dine or resign that is the question.

  • This is a JOKE
    February 23, 2013 - 19:45

    I am sorry...but charge him...If any of us, and I mean ANY of us, were to incorrectly file our EI claim, they would come after us, charge us, fine us, and in some cases, CUT off our EI..... If we were to take money that was not ours from our EMPLOYER.......we would be CHARGED, and then ordered to PAY IT BACK.....but note the words, we would be charged....with FRAUD..... yet Mr. Duffy, just because he is in the Senate....can get away by paying it back.....I don't care where he lives, in a house, on a boat, in Ottawa or PEI.....the simple matter is....he STOLE from his employer, and should be rightly prosecuted...... charge him....let him stand before Judge Nancy Orr and see what she would do with him.....bet she would have no mercy on him and do justice for everyone.....people like this make me ILL.....they use their "power" to get away with things that the ordinnary, or common citizen, would never get away with.....NEVER..... charge him, kick him out of the Senate, and see how he likes it....treat him the same way you would treat us.....

    • Dm
      February 24, 2013 - 02:04

      Well said if we were all treated equal would be the thing but with people like duff and Harper in power only the rich and privilege will be treated equal

  • wearyofitall
    February 23, 2013 - 18:50

    "The Senate rules on housing allowances aren't clear, and the forms are confusing." Yes, Mr Duffy, government forms are very difficult to interpret. If reading comprehension is a problem for you, perhaps working as a Senator is above your capabilities.

  • John Brothers
    February 23, 2013 - 17:59

    Sorry Duffy but you gotta go, Harper should see that, Gail Shea can see that. You are so far off the radar on how the average Islander thinks our country should be run it's pathetic. Take a long hike, maybe Harper and Minister Shea could help you along.

  • Really Duff
    February 23, 2013 - 17:57

    Duffster... It ain't just the $33,000.00 that you stole from Canadians..... You silly old fool. You still are NOT an Islander! So why do you represent me in the Senate? You are a hack, paid back. But you forgot the mandatory... Gotta live on PEI rule... How many more weeks of pure political purgatory (read running thru kitchens) must you endure? If you were a TRUE Islander, you would own; a drivers licence, a tax bill paying your fair share of our debt, and a health card issued by PEI. Until that time your are a big fat fraud..... of a man.... And A true Islander is anything but a fraud.

  • A Real Islander
    February 23, 2013 - 17:54

    He should be in (JAIL) if I stoled 33,000 I'd be in jail by now

  • Island Boy
    February 23, 2013 - 17:47

    Duffy should do the "honourable" thing and resign. It is obvious tha Islanders have no wish for him to be their representative. Since his appointment he has been a Harper "mouthpiece". He has supported Harper's Government line short changing veterans, both dead and alive. He and Gail Shea (she of the "absence at vote) have been insult to Island intelligence. At least we can vote out Shea but Duffy is like "crap on a blanket" and you cannot even shake him off...so let him respect Islander's wishes and resign after he repays the thousands of dollars he has collected in expenses over the past FOUR (4) years, not just last year.

  • An actual resident
    February 23, 2013 - 17:45

    I just don't believe him.

  • Andrew
    February 23, 2013 - 17:35

    "I'm entitled to be a senator" Kinda sums up all Canadians need to know about their political 'leadership'. Librano, Con, its the same old song. The dippers will simply be happy to bankrupt us all. Political parties are the cancer of demcracy.

  • bitter islander
    February 23, 2013 - 17:17

    there better be fraud charges come out of this produce reciepts from the inns at great george if your being honest ( which i doubt ) if this were the private sector there would be charges so which do you prefer duff sleepy hollow or ottawa jail cause thats where you belong THIEF

  • voter
    February 23, 2013 - 16:59

    he is trying to buy his way out of any theft and / or fraud charge that a smaller ,less important canadian peon would definitely be saddled with- when you are a HIGHLY IMPORTANT POLITICAL PERSON you can get away with these minor annoying legalities lesser people must endure. imagine the lawyers , judges, politicians, party clingons,friends and family members who accept this as normal political behaviour ---he sends a great big liberal trudeau-style fuddle duddle with a reformed conservative snort to you and you and you

  • Anyone know
    February 23, 2013 - 16:51

    which province his wife lives in. Does she stay in Ottawa. Dont they live together at all times. But where?

  • Fooling noone
    February 23, 2013 - 16:34

    Pay the money back Mr Duffy. Do the right thing. Than Harper should recommend he be charged and if convicted he should be removed from the Senate. This Policy should also apply to all the other Senators who may have done the same thing or worse. This daily foolish news has to stop. Deal with the issue in the appropriate manner and move forward. This feeding off taxpayers with no accountability is and absolute disgrace .

  • Donnie
    February 23, 2013 - 16:32

    Lobsters aren't the only thing that get end up in boiling water on P.E.I. eh Mike?

  • Home From Away
    February 23, 2013 - 16:29

    So who is paying Duffy's bill at the Inns on Great George...hopefully not the Taxpayers

    • john a macdonald
      February 24, 2013 - 10:45

      Oh, I'm sure that Puffster is getting his ''apartment'' rent paid by a kind generous benefactor for a poor senator (yeah right)

  • Just the Facts
    February 23, 2013 - 16:26

    When filing his income tax returns, what did Mike Duffy state was his province of residence on Dec 31st? Does he file as an Ontario or PEI resident? If his heart health concerns were so paramount that he must carry an OHIP card, why did he look to have a PEI health card fast-tracked? His insistence on heeding his Ontario doctors to remain in that province for care certainly doesn't say much for the quality of care Island heart patients are receiving. I guess one has to be a Senator to get the first class treatment. I don't care how Ottawa or a committe of self-interested Senators defines residency. The senate representative must (by constitutional law) be a resident of Prince Edward Island. Bottom line is simple.....the PEI government has the right to establish the criteria for Island residency. On the all-important issues of taxation and health, Mike Duffy fails to meet the standard.

  • Keith
    February 23, 2013 - 16:10

    The way I see it Mr. Duffy can't have it both ways. Is he a resident of PEI? If so he defrauded the government of Ontario by using their health card. Is he a resident of Ontario? If so he he defrauded the people of PEI and Canada because he is ineligible to be a PEI senator. He now claims he is indeed a resident of PEI, but uses an Ontario health card. It seems he figures the health care system and now the reporters in PEI aren't good enough for him and therefor he shouldn't be good enough for PEI.

  • DennisM
    February 23, 2013 - 15:17

    Mr. Duffy lied about his primary residence to receive the additional 22,000 dollars housing allowance he was not entitled to. He says he has repaid the monies and claims to have made a mistake. By this action Mr. Duffy admits he committed a fraud , not a mistake as I do not think he is a stupid man and knew exactly what he was doing. The right thing for him to do is to leave the Senate and avoid further action. Failure to do this would only reenforce what most taxpayers already think about government wasting of taxpayers monies and not being accountable for those who are paying the BILLS ! Governments have no money they extract it from the people working hard each day and it is about time they started to realize who is paying the bills and start showing some respect and accountability.

  • Steven
    February 23, 2013 - 15:01

    He's paying money back because he's guilty, hoping all the fuss will go away. He is not a resident of P.E.I, why should he represent us as senator. Seems pretty cut and dry to me.

  • ScottPEI
    February 23, 2013 - 14:33

    Thanks for paying double taxes on your "residence" here all these years, Mike! And for billing Ontario for your medical costs instead of PEI!! Oops - why did you do that if you are a "resident" of PEI ?? Now if only you would have paid income tax to PEI instead of Ontario :-(