Patterson a legitimate Nunavut resident, Senate committee says
"Senator Patterson satisfied the committee that his primary residence is in Nunavut"
The chair of the Senate’s internal governing committee ruled Feb. 28 that Conservative Sen. Dennis Patterson is a legitimate Nunavut resident.
The report, tabled by Sen. David Tkachuk, chair of the Senate’s bipartisan internal economy committee, follows a review of residency expenses claimed by senators.
As part of that review, the committee asked all 98 senators to submit a driver’s licence, a provincial health card and information from income tax returns.
After that, they interviewed two senators: Patterson and Sen. Rod Zimmer of Manitoba. Around that time, CTV News broadcast stories Feb. 15 that raised questions about Patterson’s residency claims.
But the senate committee said their interview with Patterson convinced them that he resides primarily in Nunavut.
“Following these interviews, media reports suggested, incorrectly, that the residency status of Senator Patterson was in question. Senator Patterson satisfied the committee that his primary residence is in Nunavut,” Tkachuk said in a statement.
Patterson, who lived continuously in Nunavut from 1975 to about 2001, told Nunatsiaq News Feb. 21 that he lived in British Columbia at the time of his appointment in August 2009.
But since then, he has rented apartment unit 5104A in the Plateau neighbourhood of Iqaluit, rented out his house in Vancouver, and more recently, acquired a condominium in Ottawa for use while working there.
“I have a place in Iqaluit. I have identified it. I have my personal belongings there. I have hunting equipment and a personal cabin I go to when I am in Iqaluit. I have children and grandchildren in Iqaluit and I’ve been there since 1975,” Patterson said in an interview with Nunatsiaq News.
In its report, the senate committee did not offer any comment on the constitutional meaning of “residency” as it pertains to senators.
“It is neither in our mandate nor our jurisdiction to make any findings on the constitutional question of residency. There has been some confusion on this matter, ” the report said.
The report also said “primary residence” is a term found on “a rather recent administrative form” used for submitting expense claims since 1998.
Most of the Senate’s constitutional rules haven’t changed since 1867, and some are older than Confederation.
For example, Sen. Charlie Watt, who was appointed in 1984, does not legally represent Nunavik, his home region.
That’s because Quebec’s 24 senators, unlike senators in all other regions of Canada, are named to specific Senate divisions that are set out in legislation codified in 1859, when Quebec was known as “Canada East,” part of the United Province of Canada, which existed between 1841 and 1867.
Watt, who now lives in Kuujjuaq, actually represents a Senate division known as “Inkerman,” which in the 1859 legislation is described as comprising “The Counties of Argenteuil, Ottawa and Pontiac.”
Liberal Sen. Willie Adams, who represented the Northwest Territories and Nunavut for 32 years between 1977 and 2009, lived for many years in a home outside Ottawa with his family
The Senate has asked the Deloitte firm to conduct audits on residency expense claims filed by Senators Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy and Mac Harb, and travel expense claims filed by Sen. Pamela Wallin.
Those audits are not yet complete.
The Senate committee recommends that in the future, senators should be required to provide a driver’s licence, health card and income tax information with their annual primary residence declaration.