P.E.I. residents say it's time to turn the page on Duffy saga
Published Tuesday, May 3, 2016 7:46PM EDT
Sen. Mike Duffy returned to his Senate seat for the first time in two-and-a-half years Tuesday and those in his home province of Prince Edward Island say it’s time to turn the page on the expenses scandal.
Duffy was acquitted almost two weeks ago of all 31 fraud, breach of trust and bribery charges he faced over living and travel expenses he claimed.
The senator has refused to talk publicly since returning to Ottawa Monday. His lawyer thinks Duffy should be reimbursed for more than $250,000 in salary he lost during an unpaid suspension his colleagues imposed in November 2013.
While Duffy has remained silent, his lawyer believes he should get that money back. Reimbursement would require a motion from a senator.
Islanders are divided on that score.
“I think that he should get living expenses because I think that, honestly, would only be fair,” Choyce Chappell of Charlottetown told CTV Atlantic. “But $250,000 I don’t think is fair because that’s a lot more money than the average citizen makes.”
Christian Hansen said he doesn’t want to see Duffy paid his back salary.
“But since he was found innocent, we kind of have to give him the money back because he, under definition, didn’t commit any crime.”
Don Desserud, a professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island, says the Duffy case has set a precedent for future senators.
“Islanders think actions speak louder than words. So if the question is what can any of the senators do to move forward, they’re going to be judged on their actions, not on their words. Not on their promises but on what they actually do.”
Some P.E.I. residents are firmly behind Duffy.
“He’s proven to be a loyal and intelligent man we need in power,” said Jason Sark. “He’s paid his dues, came out on top. I think he’s a good man.”
Others say Duffy doesn’t represent them, but the saga should be put to rest.
“He certainly doesn’t seem invested in the things we’re doing,” said Chappell.
“I don’t think he represents Islanders because he doesn’t live here,” said Hansen. “But it goes down to the legal speaking of it, if all it says is you need to own property.”
Duffy now sits as an independent in the Senate after being expelled from the Conservative caucus.
With a report from CTV Atlantic