UPDATE: A statement from the Standing Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration on Friday afternoon says Senator Mike Duffy reimbursed $90,172.24 in living allowance expenses to the Receiver General.
Just a day after awkwardly dodging questions from a reporter, Duffy admitted to Global News on Thursday that he has not reimbursed the tens of thousands of dollars he once said he collected improperly.
In fact, the representative for Prince Edward Island wants to wait until his audit comes out to learn if he is “required” to pay back the money.
“We haven’t heard from Deloitte. But I said I’m a man of my word, and if repayment is required, it’ll be repaid,” he said.
If you are thinking that sounds awfully different than the promise he made just months ago, you’re right.
In February, Duffy said he would pay back the living expenses just to put the matter behind him and his wife.
“We decided that in order to turn the page, to put all this behind us, we are going to voluntarily pay back my living expenses related to the house we have in Ottawa,” he said.
But now Duffy is whistling a different tune.
“I didn’t say I made a mistake,” he told Global. “I said I may have made a mistake. Words are important.”
The news clearly didn’t sit well with NDP MP Charlie Angus, who suggested Duffy was already “welching” on his promise.
“For crying out loud. Is there no honour with this man, or with the Senate?” Angus asked.
Duffy collected $33,000 in living allowances since 2010 by claiming a cottage in Cavendish, P.E.I. was his primary residence and his long-time home in an Ottawa suburb was a “secondary” residence.
Duffy blamed the entire controversy on confusing paperwork.
On Friday afternoon, Government House leader Peter Van Loan denied that Duffy ever said he'd repay the allowance in the first place.
Angus asked in Question Period why the senator was suddenly adopting a "catch-me-if-you-can attitude" and not just ponying up the cash.
"I do not believe he made those comments," Van Loan said. "We will wait for the findings of the (auditor's) report, of course, but our government has been clear. We have committed to ensuring that all expenses are appropriate at the Senate, that the rules governing expenses are appropriate and that the Senate does follow through on that."
Duffy's scandal proved embarrassing for the Conservatives this winter and made him one of several senators allegedly behaving badly this year.