Since it appears almost as difficult for some of Canada's illustrious Senators to fill in the blanks on their annual Declaration of Primary and Secondary Residences form as it does for their fellow Senators to find them guilty of misdeeds with taxpayers' money, I thought I'd provide you with the questions asked of Senators every year, followed by the rules as outlined in the Senators' Travel Policy adopted on May 10th, 2012.
First, every Senator is required to fill out the Declaration of Primary and Secondary Residences on an annual basis, covering the period from April 1 to March 31 each year.
For your illumination, here is a copy of the form (please pardon the poor quality):
They have two choices to make:
1.) Their primary residence is within 100 kilometres from Parliament Hill.
2.) Their primary residence is more than 100 kilometres from Parliament Hill.
This seems like a relatively easy question to answer; either your primary residence is more or less than 100 kilometres from Parliament Hill. It does not seem that complicated! In the case of Mike Duffy, this is quite obviously not his primary residence:
Then, Senators are to provide the following:
"For the purpose of the Twenty-Second Report of the Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, adopted in the Senate on June 18, 1998, the address of my primary residence in the province or territory that I represent is the following:...."
By giving the address of the pictured cottage as his primary residence and, despite the fact that he has lived in Ottawa for decades, Mike Duffy must have claimed that his primary residence was more than 100 kilometres from Parliament Hill meaning that the beige bungalow with all of the snow piled up in front of it is his primary resident.
Senators who live more than 100 kilometres from Parliament Hill have all of their expenses covered while they are in Ottawa. Since these expenses are funded from a separate budget, they are exempt from the point system as shown here:
Here's another twist:
Basically, it appears that Senators win either way! Even if they own a second home in Ottawa, we as taxpayers pay.
Back to Mike for a minute. Here's an interesting tidbit from the Elections Canada website:
Here's the address information that he provided for both this donation and two additional donations of $298.50 to the Malpeque Conservative Association on September 25, 2009 and to the Cardigan Conservative Association on November 9, 2009, recalling that Mr. Duffy was appointed to the Senate by our current Prime Minister on December 22, 2008:
From the Senators' Travel Policy publication, we find the following:
Here is the Designated Traveller and Dependent Children Annual Declaration form:
This means that Mike Duffy's wife, if she was his choice as his designated traveller, would qualify to have her travel expenses covered under the 64-point travel system only if his primary residence was outside the 100 kilometre limit. For your information, here's a brief summary of the 64-point travel system:
The number of points used for a trip vary with the destination and departure points, the number of days of travel and the mode of travel used. A single point is deducted for every regular trip to the nation's capital no matter how many days are spent at either destination. Travel within the Senator's region by car result in the deduction of one-quarter of a point and air travel between cities like Ottawa and Toronto would result in the deduction of one-half point for each round trip.
Please note that according to Section 2.6.3, a Senator cannot name a staff member as a designated traveller. In case you wondered, according to Section 2.9.1, the standard for air travel by Senators, their designated travellers and dependent children is business class, after all, why sully yourself by travelling cattle class with the sweaty masses who are footing the bill!
In fiscal 2011 - 2012, Senate transportation and communications cost Canadian taxpayers $10,614,992, professional services, hospitality and meals cost $3,136538 and accommodation cost $13,158,452.
Here is a listing of the Senate sitting dates for 2012:
Here is a listing of the Senate sitting dates for 2013:
While I realize that Senators have the responsibility to sit on various Committees, their base work year consists of a whopping 90 days of sitting in the Red Chamber, usually on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Must be nice "work" if you can get it! Fortunately, they have their taxpayer-issued Crackberrys to distract them while they sit there and listen to each other drone on endlessly.
All of this is ours for a mere $100,000,000 annually, give or take a few million!
As I stated in the title, it's a tough job being a Canadian Senator and thank goodness we have a few willing souls that are brave enough to tackle the hardships involved.