Richmond MLA qualifies for housing allowance: AG

Nova Scotia's auditor general will allow a housing allowance for Liberal MLA Michel Samson.

Rules need to be clarified says Lapointe

Cape Breton Liberal MLA Michel Samson qualifies for monthly housing allowances as an outside member of the Nova Scotia legislature, the auditor general ruled.

But Jacques Lapointe said the rules need to overhauled.

MLAs are eligible to receive an allowance if they live more than 40 kilometres from the legislature. They get up to $1,470 a month to rent accommodations in the city. Under the rules it can't be a principal residence and the rental arrangement can't benefit the member or any associated persons.

Samson represents the riding of Richmond, but he and his wife have been living in Halifax since his re-election in 2006.

He was reprimanded by the Speaker in April. Gordie Gosse said the house he rents in Halifax is his family's primary residence.The matter was then handed over to the auditor general.

On Friday, Jacques Lapointe ruled that Samson lives in both Arichat and Halifax and on that basis alone would not qualify as an outside MLA, but under the Elections Act he is registered as a voter in the Cape Breton town.

Lapointe also said the rules need clarifying because the allowance is intended to pay for an apartment, not a house

Deputy premier Frank Corbett said the government will review the housing regulations, but won't change the rule requiring MLAs to rent apartments.

He said it prevents MLAs from buying property and having taxpayers pay the mortgage and then selling for a profit.

Since 2006, Samson has billed taxpayers for more than $115,000 in rent. Samson had asked for a review of his living arrangements after a CBC investigation raised a number of questions about the house he rents in the city.