Kenney faces allegations over residential subsidies
United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney says allegations that he fraudulently collected residential subsidies on a secondary residence are false.
The allegations were made over the weekend by Kyle Morrow, an Ottawa-based lawyer with connections to Alberta.
Morrow is suggesting that Kenney collected $10,825.90 in taxpayer funded expenses for a secondary residence between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015 while not actually residing in the home that he listed as his primary residence.
Between 2014 and 2015, Kenney listed his primary residence as a seniors’ retirement village in Calgary. In a written statement, Kenney claims that his widowed mother owned the detached bungalow in the retirement village, and he rented the finished basement in order to assist her while he was in Calgary.
He also says that despite the fact he had a residence in Ottawa, his driver’s licence and health card were Alberta issued.
“I have been a proud resident of Alberta for nearly three decades.”
“I have been a proud resident of Alberta for nearly three decades. During that time, I have always owned, co-owned, or rented my principal residence in Alberta,” Kenney wrote.
“I paid my taxes in Alberta. My driver’s license and health card were from Alberta. My doctor and dentist were in Alberta. My Parish and volunteer activities were and are in Calgary. This of course all remains true to this day.”
An expenses guide for Members of Parliament states that an MP’s primary residence should be in the province or territory where they have a driver’s licence or health card, and also the residence occupied more often than the other residence. However, Morrow points to Kenney’s publicly available flight records during that time period, which show that he only travelled to Calgary four times during the time he collected the expenses for a secondary residence.
“As a Member of Parliament, I was afforded the same living allowance that all MPs get for accommodation in Ottawa. All was in line with House of Commons policy, and my principal residence remained in Calgary throughout.” Kenney wrote.
The Alberta NDP put out a statement Monday highlighting a registration fee of $399 Kenney made to the Ontario Progressive Conservatives in 2016.
Kenney's spokesperson, Matt Wolf, said the amount was a registration fee—not a donation.
"Mr. Kenney did not donate to the Ontario PC Party, as he was of course a resident of Alberta."
Lori Williams, a political scientist at Mount Royal University in Calgary, says while the allegations likely won’t pose legal any troubles for Kenney, it's bad press in an election year.
“I don’t think legally he’s in any difficulty here. I think the bigger question is people might raise questions about his commitment to Alberta,” Williams told CTV News.
“I think that tells us two things: one is that we’re really in election mode and people who are opposed to Jason Kenney are coming forward with their concerns, many of which they consider to be quite legitimate but some are just opponents just looking for an opportunity to call him down.”
Morrow says he has forwarded the documents to the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy.