Mike Duffy edited Senate residency declaration to remove word 'primary'

As the Senate scandal exploded around Mike Duffy in 2013, he turned his finely honed journalism skills to editing the Senate's residency declaration form, crossing out "primary" and "secondary" in the descriptions of his homes in Kanata, Ont., and Cavendish, P.E.I.

Suspended senator scratched out 'primary,' 'secondary' on key form in Senate expenses furor

Suspended senator Mike Duffy arrives at the courthouse for the second day of his trial in Ottawa Wednesday. Evidence submitted Tuesday by the Crown included Duffy's declaration of residence. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Mike Duffy turned his finely honed journalism skills to editing the Senate's residency declaration form at the height of the 2013 uproar over his spending, crossing out "primary" and "secondary" in the descriptions of his homes in Kanata, Ont., and Cavendish, P.E.I.

As the Senate scandal exploded around Duffy, Liberal-appointed senator Mac Harb and Conservative-appointed senators Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau regarding their expense claims, the members of Parliament's Upper Chamber still had to turn in their annual paperwork to the Senate regarding where they lived.

On Duffy's form, which a stamp shows was received by the Senate's finance directorate on May 22, 2013, the now-suspended senator checked off both options to declare whether his primary residence was within or outside 100 kilometres of Parliament Hill. The 100-kilometre mark is the determining factor in whether a senator can claim reimbursement for meals and accommodation, which is worth up to $22,000 a year.

The form provides check boxes next to two options: "my primary residence is within 100 kilometres from Parliament Hill" or "my primary residence is more than 100 kilometres from Parliament Hill."

Duffy crossed out both references to "primary," checked both boxes, and indicated his "NCR [National Capital Region]" residence was within the bounds defined by the Senate, and that he also had a residence outside the territorial limit, labelling it "P.E.I."

On the line regarding owning a secondary residence in the capital, Duffy scratched out "secondary" so the line read "I own a [redacted] residence in the NCR and meet the above conditions" for claiming living expenses in Ottawa.

The form is one of the hundreds of records made public on Tuesday during the former Conservative senator's trial on 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery.

(CBC News)

Expenses questioned

Duffy says he did nothing wrong by claiming expense payments. In his opening statement Tuesday, Duffy's lawyer, Donald Bayne, argued the suspended senator was entitled to the $90,000 in expenses he allegedly claimed fraudulently.

The former broadcaster has lived in Ottawa since the 1970s and bought his home in Kanata, the suburb west of Ottawa where the city's NHL team is located, in 2003. Prime Minister Stephen Harper named Duffy to the Senate to represent Prince Edward Island, the province where Duffy grew up and where he owns a cottage in Cavendish.

Duffy's first trip as a senator was days after Harper announced the plan to name him to the Upper Chamber. He and his wife flew to P.E.I. and applied for driver's licences, his calendar shows.

Duffy started claiming a Senate meal per diem on Dec. 23, 2008, the day after Harper said in a news release that he would name Duffy and 17 others to the Senate. Mark Audcent, who was the Senate law clerk at the time, said he and other Senate officials met with Duffy on Dec. 23 regarding the appointment.

The records released Tuesday as part of the court case show Duffy and his wife paid off the remaining $77,000 on their mortgage within a year and a half after his appointment to the Senate.

View an interactive slideshow with excerpts from Mike Duffy's diary from The Canadian Press.

with files from Terry Milewski