May 31, 2013 4:03 pm
Updated: May 31, 2013 4:34 pm

Sen. Duffy claimed per diem while touting affordable housing in Charlottetown

Sen. Mike Duffy in Charlottetown, August 22, 2011, at the official opening of the Stars for Life Home and Resource Centre, an affordable housing development for persons with disabilities.

Sen. Mike Duffy in Charlottetown, August 22, 2011, at the official opening of the Stars for Life Home and Resource Centre, an affordable housing development for persons with disabilities.

Credit: CMHC.ca
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OTTAWA – You could say he knows a thing or two about the subject.

Under fire for more than $90,000 in ineligible housing claims, new information reveals Sen. Mike Duffy tried to bill the Senate for Ottawa expenses when he was in Charlottetown.

And on one day, he was touting affordable housing.

The per diem (worth about $86), submitted for Aug. 22, 2011, was rejected by the Senate after it was discovered Duffy also claimed Prince Edward Island travel.

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Duffy was in Charlottetown on Aug. 22 to attend the grand opening of the Stars for Life Home and Resource Centre, a five-unit building for people with disabilities, on behalf of Human Resources Minister Diane Finley. The $250,000 project was funded with $140,850 in federal money under the Canada-Prince Edward Island Affordable Housing Agreement.

“The Government of Canada is dedicated to helping those in need on the Island and across Canada,” Duffy said at the announcement, according to a release, which also features a photo of Duffy about to cut a ribbon.

“Through projects like Stars for Life, our government is providing safe, affordable housing to people with disabilities in our community while also creating jobs and stimulating our economy.”

The affordable housing announcement is one of 18 days in August 2011 when Duffy tried to claim living expenses but was rejected by the Senate because the administration learned he was not in Ottawa.

Duffy also appeared on CTV’s Canada AM from Charlottetown on August 23, to talk about the death of former NDP leader Jack Layton, according to a transcript.

He also tried to bill a per diem that day.

Duffy cried in his interview with host Beverly Thomson as he recalled a surprise visit from Layton in 2007 following Duffy’s heart surgery.

“It’s tough,” Duffy said.

“Seeing that. Yeah, yeah, he was the real deal. He was the real thing. What you saw on TV was what he was in person.”

Duffy did not immediately respond to request for comment as to why he billed per diems those days.

The Senate communications branch provided Global News Friday with a specific breakdown of dates when Duffy claimed or attempted to claim per diems over an 11-month period, after failing to release the information earlier in the week.

During Tuesday’s open internal economy committee, it was revealed Duffy had a habit of claiming per diems for days not spent in Ottawa. That includes 12 days in Florida in January 2012, recently revealed in a Deloitte audit which scrutinized his expenses, along with those of senators Patrick Brazeau and Mac Harb.

“It represents a pattern that raises concerns,” said Senate clerk Gary O’Brien.

“There were 49 days where per diems were claimed in Ottawa during a time period, according to the Deloitte report, that Senator Duffy does not appear to have been in Ottawa.” Of those 49 per diems, 25 were paid to Duffy.

O’Brien said all per diems were reimbursed to the Senate on March 26 this year. Nigel Wright, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff, personally cut Duffy a $90,000 cheque to pay back his expenses. Wright has since resigned, and Harper denies knowing about or authorizing the payment.

The committee also voted to send Duffy’s expenses to the RCMP.

 

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