Conservative Senator Mike Duffy has not paid back the tens of thousands of dollars in housing expenses he said he’d return almost two months ago.
And now, he says he isn’t sure he’s “required” to.
A day after dodging questions from Global News, Duffy said he is waiting for an audit to come out before repaying the money.
“We haven’t heard from Deloitte. But I said I’m a man of my word, and if repayment is required, it’ll be repaid,” Duffy said outside the Senate Thursday.
“I didn’t say I made a mistake. I said I may have made a mistake,” he said.
“Words are important.”
In February, Duffy said he would pay back several years’ worth of housing allowances he admits he may have mistakenly collected, blaming “confusing” forms.
“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,” he said on a network television interview.
He alluded again to paperwork confusion Thursday.
“I think everyone agrees there’s confusion, and I’ll be waiting to hear what Deloitte has to say about the forms and about what the Senate should do to make it clearer for everybody,” he said.
“I followed the forms as I thought they should have been filled out, and if I was wrong and made a mistake I’ll repay it. And if I wasn’t wrong, I assume that’ll be reported as well.”
The journalist-turned-senator came under fire last year for claiming $33,000 in housing allowances since 2010 after he reported his primary residence was his cottage in Cavendish, PEI – the province he represents in the Red Chamber.
But Duffy has lived in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata for years, even before his appointment to the Senate.
Senators are required to keep a home in the province they represent. If a senator’s primary residence is more than 100 kilometres away from the National Capital Region, he or she is eligible for an allowance to offset the costs of keeping a second home.
To prove where they live senators are required to fill out a declaration including the address of their primary residence. The declaration also asks for details about a senator’s secondary residence.
Duffy is one of four senators whose expenses are being scrutinized by an ongoing external audit. The Senate has yet to set a date for the audit’s release.
– With files from Rebecca Lindell