OTTAWA, Ont. – Senator Mike Duffy has admitted he may have made a mistake by claiming a housing allowance of more than $30,000 since 2010, and has promised to repay the money.
Duffy, who represents Prince Edward Island, is one of three senators who is under investigation for receiving thousands of dollars, without necessarily being qualified to receive it.
“Rather than go through months and months and months of an audit, we’ve got important work to do, so my wife and I talked last night and I said ‘let’s just get this off the plate’,” Duffy told the CBC in Charlottetown, Friday, after months of questions and criticisms.
The senator, who has a cottage in PEI, has mainly been living in Ottawa since the 1970′s, but received the money by claiming his cottage was his primary residence.
“In order to turn the page to put all of this behind us, we are going to voluntarily pay back my living expenses related to the house we have in Ottawa,” he said.
Duffy is blaming unclear rules in the Senate for the entire issue, explaining that the forms are vague and confusing.
“Until the rules are clear – and they’re not clear now – the forms are not clear, and I hope the Senate will renew the forms to make them clear – I will not claim a housing allowance,” he said.
The other two Senators being investigated include Liberal Mac Harb and the controversial Patrick Brazeau. In addition, Conservative Pamela Wallin is being audited for her travel expenses.
Duffy’s official statement:
Four years ago, I was given the opportunity to sit in the Senate as a voice for Prince Edward Islanders in Ottawa. I jumped at the chance. I was born here, I was raised here, I own a house here, I pay property taxes here, and most important, my heart is here.
I also started my career here, and took my Island sensibilities along when I was covering politics in Ottawa.
Being a Senator has allowed me to do a lot of good for PEI communities. And there is a lot more to be done.
Recently questions have been raised about my eligibility for the housing allowance provided to MPs and Senators.
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.
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.
I want there to be no doubt that I’m serving Islanders first.