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Sen. Duffy repays more than $90K in housing expenses

Conservative Senator Mike Duffy has repaid more than $90,170 in Senate housing allowances to the Receiver General.

“I have always said that I am a man of my word. In keeping with the commitment I made to Canadians, I can confirm I repaid these expenses in March 2013,” Duffy wrote in a statement Friday, despite one day earlier telling Global News he was unsure he had to repay any money.

The news comes after days of futile questioning.

On Wednesday, Duffy dodged the question, telling Global News only that he is “a man of (his) word.”

One day later, he said he wasn’t sure he was “required” to repay the money he had vowed to return almost two months earlier. Instead, he said, he’d wait for the release of an external auditor’s report before repaying.

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In February, Duffy told Canadians he would repay several years’ worth of housing allowances he admits he may have mistakenly collected, blaming “confusing” forms.

“Rather than let this 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 Feb. 22.

“The Senate rules on housing allowances aren’t clear, and the forms are confusing,” Duffy said in a statement at the time. “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.”

The journalist-turned-senator came under fire last year for claiming more than $33,000 in housing allowances since 2010 after he reported his primary residence was his cottage in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island – the province he represents in the Upper 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.

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Duffy is one of four senators whose expenses are under scrutiny in an ongoing external audit. The Senate has yet to set a date for the audit’s release.

– With files from Rebecca Lindell