The Crown has invoked a Canadian pop sensation as part of its argument that Mike Duffy was not a resident of Prince Edward Island when he became a senator in 2008.
The Crown is alleging that Mr. Duffy was an Ottawa resident and did not meet the qualifications to represent PEI when he was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Crown attorney Mark Holmes said that just because Mr. Duffy had to be a PEI resident to become a senator, doesn't prove that he was a resident when he was appointed.
Mr. Holmes compared the residency rule to the requirement that all senators be 30 years old, arguing that someone under that age wouldn't instantly become 30 upon being summoned to the Red Chamber.
"Bear with me," Mr. Holmes asked his witness, recently retired Senate law clerk Mark Audcent. "Do you know who Justin Bieber is?"
Mr. Audcent acknowledged being aware of the Canadian singer, who is 21, according to Mr. Holmes.
"If the Governor-General, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, appointed Justin Bieber to the Senate tomorrow, would he become 30?" Mr. Holmes.
"Of course not," Mr. Audcent answered.
Judge Charles Vaillancourt certainly got the point, but asked Mr. Holmes to "keep on topic."
Mr. Duffy is facing charges of fraud in relation to $82,000 in living allowances that he obtained by declaring that his home in Ottawa was his "secondary residence" and that he deserved to be compensated for being on "travel status" while in Ottawa.
According to Mr. Holmes, Mr. Duffy lived, voted, paid his taxes and received his health services in Ontario, and shouldn't have designated his cottage in PEI as his "primary residence."
In his examination by the Crown on Wednesday, Mr. Audcent said that in his view, there were a series of criteria to be met before a senator could designate a "primary" residence in the province that he represented.
Mr. Duffy's lawyer, Donald Bayne, then spent two days in cross-examination with Mr. Audcent to make the point that Senate rules on the issues of residency were vague and ill-defined.
According to Mr. Bayne, Mr. Duffy faced a constitutional obligation to declare that his "primary" residence was his cottage in Cavendish and not his main residence in Ottawa.
Mr. Bayne has gone through a series of Senate records going back to 1998 and shown that the documents only offered precise language on residency requirements in 2013, after a controversy over the expenses of Mr. Duffy and other senators. The charges against Mr. Duffy, however, predate those rule changes.
Mr. Audcent ended his testimony on Friday. The trial will resume on Monday with officials from the human-resources and financial divisions of the Senate.