OTTAWA - Sen. Mike Duffy is blaming confusing paperwork for his mistake in claiming a Senate housing allowance he was not entitled to receive.
But the paperwork in question — a yearly declaration of primary and secondary residences —hardly seems complicated.
Senators are required to fill out the declaration to determine if they are entitled to the housing allowance, intended to compensate those who maintain a secondary residence in the national capital region while fulfilling their parliamentary duties.
The residency declaration, which Duffy described as "vague," required the senator to fill in the address of his primary residence in the province he was appointed to represent.
Hence, he filled in the address of his Cavendish cottage in Prince Edward Island, not his home in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata, where he lived for years before his appointment to the Senate.
What Duffy doesn't mention is that the declaration also asks senators to check a box indicating whether or not their primary residence is within 100 kilometres of Parliament Hill.
In order to obtain the allowance, Duffy would have had to tick the box saying his primary residence is outside the capital region.
The declaration also asks for information regarding a senator's secondary residence in the capital region — a section "to be filled only by senators whose primary residence is more than 100 kilometres from Parliament Hill."
The form goes on to spell out the conditions for being reimbursed for ownership or rental of a secondary residence in the national capital region.
The section concludes with another box which Duffy would have had to check to collect the allowance, declaring that "I own a secondary residence in the NRC and meet the above conditions."