United Conservatives leader Jason Kenney disputes expense allegations while MP
Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, January 21, 2019 6:47PM EST
EDMONTON -- Alberta United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney and his staff are firing back at a lawyer who is questioning Kenney's residential expense claims from his time as a cabinet minister in Ottawa.
Kenney's spokesman Matt Wolf says Kyle Morrow's suggestions are not true and he can't point to any rule Kenney is supposed to have contravened regarding having homes in two cities.
"Mr. Morrow has no case to be made," Wolf said in an interview Monday. "He hasn't shown any rule that's been broken."
Wolf called it an attack from a former provincial Liberal candidate meant to undermine Kenney as a provincial election approaches this spring.
"Mr. Morrow has certainly proven nothing other than injecting innuendo and sleazy partisan smears," he said.
Morrow, an Ottawa-based lawyer, has been sharply critical of Kenney in previous Twitter posts, particularly accusing him of working against or failing to support LGBTQ issues.
In recent days, Morrow has posted travel and expense documents on his Twitter feed and questioned why Kenney, while working as an MP, listed a Calgary home as his primary residence from 2013 to 2015 when flight records suggest he spent little time there.
"Jason Kenney was collecting around $900/month in secondary residence subsidies at the same time he was listing his address in Calgary as a senior's retirement home. Those subsidies were contingent on him permanently residing in Calgary," Morrow posted.
Morrow could not be reached for comment Monday.
Kenney has said he rented out part of his mother's home in a retirement village at the time to be near her and to help her out when he could.
House of Commons rules say that time spent living in a home is only one of many conditions to be considered for an MP to qualify to have a residence in a second city.
The rules state that as long as MPs have ties to an area -- such as paying taxes or having a driver's licence from there -- they qualify for the second residence.
Wolf said Kenney met those conditions in Calgary.
"If you look at the House of Commons rules, it makes it very clear that Jason checks multiple boxes to qualify for his Calgary residence as his primary residence," he said.
"He's been a Calgarian for over 20 years, either owning, co-owning or renting his primary home in Calgary. He pays his taxes in Calgary, he votes in Calgary, his driver's licence and health card are from Alberta."
Kenney has also said the Calgary housing expenses came out of his own pocket while he received about $10,000 a year allowance to subsidize his place in Ottawa.
Kenney, in a weekend Facebook post, said the allegations are false.
"Yes it is true that my work as a senior cabinet minister in Stephen Harper's government also meant I spent a large amount of time outside of Calgary.
"As a member of Parliament I was afforded the same living allowance that all MPs get for accommodation in Ottawa."
In his Twitter posts, Morrow also accused Kenney of lying to Elections Canada in 2013 by listing his home that had been sold by his mother the year prior.
Wolf said that would have been filed by a volunteer or someone else on Kenney's campaign and was likely to have been an honest mistake. He noted other filings at the same time gave Kenney's correct address.
Premier Rachel Notley's NDP waded in on Monday by alleging Kenney broke election rules in 2016 when he contributed $399 to Ontario's Progressive Conservative party while not being eligible to do so because he was living in Alberta.
"For somebody to have spent 20 years in Ottawa, claim that you're an Alberta resident, donate to an Ontario political party ΓÇª and then say, 'Trust me to govern your province,' I think there are a lot of questions," deputy premier Sarah Hoffman said at the legislature.
Wolf said the $399 was a registration fee, not a donation, when Kenney attended the 2016 Ontario PC general meeting in Ottawa.