In the wake of the Duffy Affair, Errol Mendes writes, the Senate has begun reforming itself:
The Senate to which Mr. Duffy returns is, in a multitude of ways, much different from the chamber from which he was suspended. The Senate leadership, in particular those on the powerful internal economy committee, has greatly tightened expenditure and travel rules. In the wake of the damning Auditor-General’s report, the Senate leadership, along with most senators, will also endorse a forthcoming independent oversight mechanism that they promise will be far more rigorous than anything seen in the House of Commons in terms of financial transparency and accountability.
The Duffy Affair began with Stephen Harper's claim that Mr. Duffy was a resident of Prince Edward Island -- a claim that Duffy himself had a hard time swallowing. And, when Harper referred his plans for reform to the Supreme Court, the Court informed him that reform would have to be done with the consent of the provinces -- because the Senate had to reflect the regions of the country.
So, as the Senate gets back to work, one of the first items on its agenda should be clarifying what residency means:
For this reason, the very loose rules of primary residence undermines the architecture of the modernized Senate. So, too, do the so-called strengthened rules that say senators only have to show that their driver’s licence and health card comes from their province of appointment, and that their taxes are filed in the same province.To improve the Senate’s credibility, and build Canadians’ trust in the revamped chamber, every senator must prove that the actual length of time they spend in their province reflects how they can be legitimately representing the interests of their constituents. Their physical assets, including property, should reflect and reinforce that representation.
Owning a cottage in a province should not be enough to make you a senator.