Mike Duffy makes quiet return to Parliament Hill
P.E.I. Senator to sit as an independent, can take his seat in Red Chamber tomorrow
Mike Duffy returned to Parliament Hill on Monday, a little more than a week after a court dismissed all of the 31 charges against him related to his Senate expenses.
The P.E.I. senator casually strolled past waiting reporters without saying anything, and entered Centre Block through the front doors that lead to the Senate chamber. He was similarly silent when he later came upon reporters outside his third-floor office.
The Senate is not sitting Monday, but Duffy could return to the Upper Chamber when business resumes on Tuesday. He has not appeared in the Senate since 2013, when he addressed the controversy around his expenses shortly before senators voted to suspend him without pay.
- Mike Duffy will face a battle if he wants back pay, senior Tory senators say
- Mike Duffy's expenses: 'The matter is closed,' senior senators say
- Duffy ruling could put brakes on expense cases against other senators
That suspension ended with last year's election call. And with last month's verdict, Duffy was cleared to return to the job to which he was appointed in 2008.
Senior Conservative senators have already said that they will fight any effort by Duffy to collect that back pay, saying the suspension process was separate from the criminal trial proceedings.
"There is no appetite among senators to revisit this. It brings back some very tumultuous times," Conservative Senator Leo Housakos, chair of the internal economy committee, told CBC News last week.
Claude Carignan, the leader of the Conservative opposition in the Senate, added Monday that he is staunchly opposed to cutting a cheque to Duffy.
"I completely disagree with [back pay for Duffy]. If he asks for that I will disapprove because that was in fact a completely different situation. He was suspended on a disciplinary sanction for negligence in the management of his office. His criminal charges were something completely different," he said.
James Cowan, the leader of the Senate Liberals, added that it would be up to Duffy to make his case to fellow senators.
"Any senator is entitled to bring anything before the Senate," Cowan said outside the chamber. "I think the proper thing is to let Senator Duffy come back and make his own decision about how he should behave and deal with that situation, and then we'll deal with it. But it's not up to us, it's up to him."
In any case, Duffy is free to take his seat in the Red Chamber as if the three-year long saga never happened and will sit as an independent.
There is likely little appetite on Duffy's part to return to the Conservative caucus after senior Tory senators led the effort to have him, and former Conservative senators Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau, removed from the chamber.
with files from J.P. Tasker