Does he live here or doesn’t he? That is the question.
And it should have an easy answer. It should be simply yes or no, based on how many nights one slept cradled in the waves.
Over the past few months, P.E.I. Senator Mike Duffy’s residency has been called into question. Duffy contends that he does have a cottage in Cavendish where he spends his summers and he rents a place in Charlottetown during the winter.
Problem is he also spends a lot of time in Kanata, one of the largest suburbs of Ottawa where he and his wife bought a house five years before he was appointed to the Senate.
As Duffy was contending that P.E.I. was still his home, other Senators, like Pamela Wallin, were being questioned about their primary residency and their living expenses in Ottawa.
Then there are the absentee senators who are brought into question from time to time as they are discovered to be spending little time in the Red Chamber while still finding time to spend their paycheques.
As is usually the case when questions are raised about senators and their spending, there quickly follows questions about whether or not we need a Senate.
Perhaps it is time for the Senate to go the way of the penny.
Like the copper coin, the Senate was once useful, but not so much any more. As Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said as the last penny was minted, the coin was too expensive to produce and no longer needed for business. Well so is the Senate.
And like the penny, the Senate is costing Canadians more than what it’s worth.
Duffy alone has claimed more than $33,000 since September 2010 for expenses incurred due to his primary residency being more than 100 kilometres outside Ottawa.
If all the senators’ expenses and salaries were added up over the course of the year and measured against the value of their work, would they come out even at least? Likely not.
Like the penny, the actual value of the Senate would be determined to be less than the cost.
So let’s put aside our affections for the Upper House of Parliament and our sense of nostalgia for the house of sober second thought, as we did with our beloved penny, and say farewell to the Canadian Senate and all its baggage.
Then a penny saved would be a senators’ salary not earned.