Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Address meaning of 'home'

  • Print

The Senate, reeling in controversy, is greatly worried that respect for the upper chamber is being eroded, again. It is looking seriously at writing rules about which senators should be permitted to file for housing expenses in Ottawa when their main residence is not within reasonable driving distance.

The fact the Senate only now sees cause to write well-defined rules for tapping the public treasury reveals an accountability blind spot. The investigations into expenses claimed by three senators -- P.E.I.'s Mike Duffy, Quebec's Mac Harb and Patrick Brazeau and Saskatchewan's Pamela Wallin, all of whom claim primary residences at least 100 kilometres outside of Ottawa -- should be expedited. Allowances wrongly claimed should be repaid.

That decision won't be so easily made because of the lax wording in the Senate's guidelines of what constitutes a residence, or how primary residence is defined. The Senate now has asked all senators to show proof of residency in their home provinces. That sent Sen. Duffy scrambling for an expedited health insurance card from P.E.I., which turned him down. His cottage there is registered for a special non-resident property tax.

Some senators are having difficulty producing the identification common to residents of provinces -- a driver's licence, proof of registration on voter lists or a health card -- because they essentially live full-time in Ottawa.

That raises a bigger question. The upper chamber is intended to give regional representation to Parliament, the appointees are to be the voices of their provinces.

The Constitution seems fairly clear on the issue: Senators must own land and "shall be resident in the province for which he is appointed." That indicates a senator must be living in his or her province, returning there when not required in Ottawa, rather than vacationing on occasion or holding property as a result of inheritance.

Conservative Sen. David Tkachuk, chairman of internal economy committee, noted nothing specifically dictates that senators must keep their primary residence in their provinces. Indeed, he added, flying "home" frequently would tax the health of some senators.

The Senate now wants to better define the issue of residency, and to write more precise rules to prevent abuse. It's high time, but it might also be too late. Most Canadians know full well what residency means. The fact senators are asking for clarification of what it means to "be resident" may simply show the widening gulf between senators' sense of entitlement and the value Canadians believe they get from a body of patronage appointees costing them $92 million a year.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 14, 2013 A14

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Your top TV picks for Dec. 1-4

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A monarch butterfly looks for nectar in Mexican sunflowers at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Monday afternoon-Monarch butterflys start their annual migration usually in late August with the first sign of frost- Standup photo– August 22, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos


Should Canada send heavy military equipment to Ukraine?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google