Harb’s home claims called into question by RCMP

The house in Cobden, Ont. that Sen. Mac Harb once claimed as his primary residence, on July 26, 2013. Jamie Butler/Global News

TORONTO – A home that Senator Mac Harb claimed was his primary residence was ‘largely uninhabitable’ for the first three years of his declared occupancy, according to an RCMP officer investigating questionable housing claims made by a number of sitting senators.

MORE: Secrets of Senate expenses revealed

In documents released by the Ontario Superior Court on Thursday, RCMP Cpl. Greg Horton said that between 2003 and 2013, Sen. Harb erroneously claimed two houses as being his primary residence and collected compensation.

Since 1989, senators who visit Ottawa to perform parliamentary business and live more than 100 kilometers outside of the National Capital Region can claim up to $22,000 per year in living expenses.

“While he has owned homes in both Cobden and Westmeath, the investigation has shown that neither of those homes was his primary residence,” Horton says in the document.

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“I believe he resides primarily in the NCR [National Capital Region] and as such is not entitled to collect a housing allowance claiming that residence as ‘secondary.’”

Horton said that the results of an audit of Harb’s expenses by accounting firm Deloitte as well as the RCMP’s own investigation back up this statement.

The first home, 62 Durack Line Road in Cobden, On. was purchased by Harb in 2003, shortly after he was appointed to the Senate, which consisted of an old stone house in a pasture and a well.

Harb eventually hired contractors to perform renovations on the house, including adding an addition and upgrading the well. Horton says numerous contractors contacted during the course of his investigation said that it did not seem like Harb lived there. The document recalls a worker describing the house as in “very rough shape” both before and after he completed his work levelling the basement floor.

Further, driver’s license records between 1982 and 2013 obtained by Horton listed Ottawa as Harb’s home address, except for a four-year period between December 2007 and October 2011, when his Cobden address was listed.

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Horton spoke with neighbours and associates of Harb that said he was rarely seen on the property.

Larry Mulligan, who lives one kilometre from the Cobden address, says that he rented Harb’s pasture land for 3-4 years while Harb owned it.

He says he had his own set of keys so that he could manually reset the electrical breaker that powered the well, which he used with his cattle. He said that he checked on his cattle three to four times a week between May and October each year.

Mulligan and never saw people on the property during the week; on occasion, he would see Harb and whom he assumed to be his family on the weekend.

WATCH: Global National reports on Mac Harb’s questionable expenses 

In 2007, Harb sold 99.9 per cent of the house to Magdeline Teo, then the Brunei ambassador to Canada. Harb retained 0.01 per cent ownership of the house, which he continued to claim as his primary residence until the house was sold to a third party in 2011.

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In 2010, Harb purchased a residence at 52 Crosby Trail in Westmeath, ON, and claimed it as his primary residence on June 3, 2011. The majority of community members did not believe that anyone lived in the house after Harb took ownership.

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