P.E.I. premier says Sen. Duffy's health card request did not reach him
Prince Edward Island’s Liberal Premier Robert Ghiz says he had nothing to do with Sen. Mike Duffy’s request for an expedited P.E.I. health card, as controversy continues to swirl around the senator’s residency claims.
“Prince Edward Island is a small province, but I’m not dealing with health cards in my office,” Ghiz told CTV’s Power Play Thursday.
Duffy, a Conservative senator, is facing questions over his claim that a home in Cavendish, P.E.I., is his primary residence.
His office tried to expedite his health card application in P.E.I. after the Senate asked all members of the upper chamber to submit documents by Jan. 31 to prove where they live.
The request was denied because it was considered to be an application for a brand new health card, which is subject to a three-month waiting period.
Duffy has claimed $42,802 for living expenses in the Ottawa area since September 2010. Senators can claim up to $21,000 in housing and meal expenses annually, if their primary residence is located more than 100 kilometres from the capital.
Duffy has denied misusing the taxpayer-subsidized housing allowance. He also said that he keeps two residences in P.E.I. -- the home in Cavendish, and another he rents in Charlottetown during the winter.
The Canadian Constitution requires all senators to reside in the province which they represent.
Ghiz said it’s now up to the Senate to determine whether Duffy primarily lives in P.E.I.
He said he’s known Duffy most of his life and thought the former broadcaster’s rise to the Senate could have been “a fruitful appointment for Prince Edward Island.”
“He’s obviously been perhaps more of an attack dog politically than I thought Mike Duffy ever would be,” Ghiz said.
Asked whether he believes that Duffy is representing the island’s interests in the Red Chamber, Ghiz said he and the senator have “philosophical differences in terms of policy issues.”
“I think the role of a senator should be representing the views of the jurisdiction that he represents, but obviously we call that a philosophical agreement. I wish that he would take the views that our Islanders are giving to him, and represent those in Ottawa rather than the other way around,” he said.