Wednesday, February 27, 2013

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Could Mike Duffy and Pam Wallin be turfed from the Senate?

For Senators Mike Duffy and Pam Wallin, the fundamental question is not whether they fiddled their expense accounts. It is whether they even qualify under the Constitution to be members of Parliament’s upper house.

This is the real import of the latest Senate scandal. Those who are not “residents” of the provinces or territories they purport to represent can’t sit in the Senate. Period. The Constitution is quite clear.

Yes, Duffy has promised to pay back the more than $42,000 in housing allowances he obtained by claiming a primary residence in Prince Edward Island. And yes, Wallin has reportedly agreed to repay some of the $350,000 she took as recompense for flights to undisclosed locations.

Yet as they try to deal with these misspending charges, both are acknowledging something far more serious. They don’t live in the provinces they claim to represent — at least not in the way most Canadians would understand.

Wallin says she spent just 168 days last year in Saskatchewan, the province she was appointed to speak for. That’s not enough to qualify her for, say, a Saskatchewan health card (the magic number there is 182 days).

Indeed, the Star has reported she holds an Ontario health card — a privilege granted only to permanent residents of Ontario.

Duffy has given up the fiction that he lives in Prince Edward Island, the province he claims to represent, and has admitted that his real home is the Ottawa suburb of Kanata. (Source: Toronto Star)