Conservative Senator Mike Duffy has repaid more than $90,000 in housing expenses, according to the Senate committee responsible for internal spending.
Mr. Duffy announced in February that he would repay the money he has claimed to cover his living allowance in Ottawa since he became a Senator in 2009, saying he “may have been mistaken” when filling out forms about where his primary residence is located. Senators whose primary residence is more than 100 kilometres away from Ottawa are entitled to claim the allowance to cover the added costs of staying in Ottawa for work.
“Senator Duffy has reimbursed the Receiver General $90,172.24 for living allowance expenses,” a statement attributed to the committee on the internal economy said.
Mr. Duffy was born and raised in PEI and represents that province in the Senate. But he has lived and worked in Ottawa for years, and bought his home in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata before he was appointed to the Red Chamber.
In a statement posted on the website National Newswatch on Friday, Mr. Duffy said he had repaid the money in March.
“I have always said that I am a man of my word. In keeping with the commitment I made to Canadians, I can confirm that I repaid these expenses in March 2013,” he said in the statement.
Earlier this year, the Senate sent Mr. Duffy’s and three other senators’ expense claims to auditing firm Deloitte for further scrutiny, and is still waiting for the results of those audits. Liberal Senator Mac Harb, independent Senator Patrick Brazeau and Mr. Duffy are all having their housing allowances reviewed, while Conservative Senator Pamela Wallin is being audited for her travel expenses.
Marjory LeBreton, government leader in the Senate, has said the results of all four audits will be made public.
The announcement from the Senate about Mr. Duffy’s repayment came after several days of confusion.
Global News reported on Wednesday that Mr. Duffy would not say whether he had paid the money back or not, and on Friday, parliamentary House Leader Peter van Loan suggested during Question Period that Mr. Duffy may not have promised to repay the money in the first place.
The expense controversy in the Senate is contributing to growing calls for reform of the Red Chamber, where members are appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister and allowed to sit until their retirement. The government has referred a series of questions about Senate reform to the Supreme Court of Canada.