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Senator Mike Duffy returns to Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 2, 2016.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Senator Mike Duffy returned to work on Parliament Hill for the first time since his acquittal on criminal charges ended his two-and-a-half-year suspension from the unelected Senate.

He is now free to take his seat in the Red Chamber when it resumes sitting on Tuesday, with full privileges.

"I would say he was subdued," said Conservative Senator Don Plett, who spent time with Mr. Duffy in his office on Monday. "He was happy to see me, but at the same time, listen, he has been through a lot. … I think he needs to collect himself. It is going to be an emotional period for him."

The once-outspoken Mr. Duffy, looking frail and pale-skinned, was spotted chatting to staff in the Centre Block cafeteria, but the former broadcaster remained tight-lipped when confronted by his former colleagues in the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

As he was trailed by TV cameras and reporters, he refused to comment on whether he wants the Senate to reimburse him for back wages and legal expenses.

Ontario Court Justice Charles Vaillancourt acquitted Mr. Duffy on 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery on April 21, delivering a verdict that strongly criticized the actions of Stephen Harper's Prime Minister's Office, which the judge described as "mind-boggling and shocking."

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson told reporters on Monday that he would not discuss the court verdict or say when he would release a long-promised legal opinion on why Mr. Harper's former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, was not charged with bribery in the Duffy affair.

The RCMP laid bribery charges against Mr. Duffy for accepting a $90,000 cheque from Mr. Wright to pay for questionable living and travel expenses. Justice Vaillancourt ruled that Mr. Wright and other top Harper lieutenants had cajoled Mr. Duffy into accepting the money.

"I am not going to speak about the Duffy matter. I'm just not gonna do that because it's inappropriate," Commissioner Paulson said after testifying before the Senate committee on national security and defence.

The Crown has not yet decided whether to appeal the verdict. It has until May 20 to make a decision.

Mr. Duffy, along with Senators Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau, was suspended without pay in November, 2013, and removed from the Conservative caucus. Soon after, the RCMP charged Mr. Duffy and Mr. Brazeau, and began a criminal investigation into Ms. Wallin. Mr. Brazeau's court case has not yet begun, and Commissioner Paulson said the RCMP will soon decide on whether to charge Ms. Wallin.

Mr. Duffy's criminal lawyer, Donald Bayne, and some senators, such as independent Senator John Wallace, say Mr. Duffy should be repaid his $270,000 in wages now that he's been acquitted. For that to happen, either Mr. Duffy or another senator must table a motion in the Senate.

NDP MP Charlie Angus said the Senate would be playing with political fire if it voted to pay back Mr. Duffy's lost salary.

"What we're seeing is a real disconnect between the Ottawa political bubble and ordinary Canadians who, you know, work hard and play by the rules, and now we're supposed to be all feeling bad for a senator who's going to go back and demand all his back pay for all the time that he was in court," Mr. Angus told reporters.

Conservative Senate leader Claude Carignan said he did not believe Mr. Duffy could collect enough votes to get reimbursed for his salary, or to have taxpayers pick up the tab for his legal expenses.

"He was suspended for disciplinary sanction, something that is completely different than why he was charged criminally," Mr. Carignan said. "On legal fees, he could ask, but personally it would be a precedent if senators are reimbursed for legal fees on a criminal hearing. So personally I would be against it."

However, he said he believed the Senate would support a motion to allow Mr. Duffy to top up his pension during the time he was suspended.

Conservative Senator Leo Housakos, who chairs the chamber's internal economy committee, said the Senate was within its rights to suspend Mr. Duffy and there is little desire to see the funds reimbursed – a view shared by many of Mr. Duffy's former Conservative colleagues.

"The Senate made a decision about his salary as part of the sanctions process against Senator Duffy and that sanctions process took place, and that's the end of that," Conservative Senator Linda Frum said.