Musings —04.10.2015 09:22 AM—
I used to be the courts and cops reporter for the Ottawa Citizen. I watched Don Bayne do his thing, up close, many times. When Mike Duffy made the decision to retain Bayne, he made a very smart decision.
Here’s just one reason why. In his cross with the Senate bureaucrat offered up by the Crown, Bayne inserts the first reasonable doubt – that is, Duffy needed to only own land in the place he represented. He didn’t actually need to live there.
“Mark Audcent, retired Senate law clerk, testified for the Crown that residence is a question of “fact.” He suggested it could be determined by a “whole package” of facts, like where you have a home, where your family lives, where you vote, where you pay your taxes, where you get government services like a driver’s licence, or health coverage.
But he agreed under cross-examination by Duffy’s lawyer, Donald Bayne, that the Senate never set out clear definitions of “primary” or “secondary” residence, never defined residence for the purpose of determining eligibility to hold a seat in the upper chamber, nor for seeking payment of expense claims.
Bayne suggested repeatedly Duffy had no other choice — Senate rules, policies and guidelines all but required him to declare the P.E.I. cottage as his “primary” residence or risk losing his seat — because the Constitution required all senators to be resident in the province they represent.
Audcent agreed there is a “danger” of a senator losing his seat if he fails to hold property or be resident of the province he represents. He also agreed the $100,000 worth of renovations Duffy poured into his P.E.I. cottage showed a “commitment” to that residence.
…To bolster his argument that Duffy made his declarations in “good faith”, Bayne highlighted a memo from office of the Conservative government leader in the Senate, Marjory Lebreton, to “rookie” senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin (also now facing police investigation over her travel claims.)
Written by Lebreton’s policy adviser Christopher McCreery, it suggested they needn’t worry about “disqualification.”
“I checked all of the authorities on the senate and residency is not defined,” McCreery wrote. “My interpretation is . . . that so long as a senator owns property in his or her province of appointment then they are allowed to sit as a senator from that province, even if they live in Ottawa 99 per cent of the time.”