Yesterday I wrote about Kenney’s $10,000 per year subsidy for his secondary residence. Using the basic facts we currently have, I concluded that if everything he says is true, he would have qualified for the housing allowance. Kenney and the Party have been in public relations management mode since Kyle Morrow first published the documents on Twitter last Friday; deny, deny, deflect.
Supporters are calling for Liberals and New Democrats to be investigated as well because “they’re all doing it”. The latter has been a source of continuing amusement because I can’t recall the last time a UCP supporter demanded the conservatives be investigated after a “Liberal” scandal. However, I agree; MP expenses from all Parties should all be reviewed immediately. Most recently, the Government of Alberta initiated a review of all MLA expenses after Mr. Fildebrandt’s discrepancies were brought to light. While I seriously doubt “all” MPs are “doing it”, as one politically inclined observer noted: it is an “abuse of a system that was set up to be abused”. That needs to change.
More information has come to light since the story first broke that calls the basic facts of Kenney’s claim into question. To begin with, the retirement residence where Mrs. Kenney lived does not allow subletting (renters) according to a former employee. A neighbour in the residence told reporters “your children don’t live with you here” and that Kenney “didn’t live (t)here”.
Additionally, Alberta Supportive Living Accommodations Licencing Regulations require leasing agreements for all residents and registration of guests in compliance with Alberta Supportive Living Accommodations Standards. This was first brought forward by the Alberta NDP, which does not negate the facts presented if you don’t happen to support them. As Mr. Morrow originally determined through his research, no lease agreement was on file with Kenney’s residency claim. The fact that Mr. Morrow once bothered to put his name on a ballot for the Alberta Liberal Party does not negate the evidence he presented.
Kenney sat down with Alberta at Noon’s Judy Aldous on Tuesday and spoke to the residency debate. He clarified that he co-owned a Calgary residence with his parents because they had “fallen on hard times”. He reiterated there is no requirement for a Member to be physically present at their primary residence for a certain period of time (and I discussed the uselessness of the term “ordinarily” in the last post). He was a busy guy who used to joke that he “lived on an airplane” because he traveled so much.
Kenney also mentioned that all of his schedules and expense reports were “probably shredded” when he “left in 2015”. He misspoke, referring to his parliamentary end date but he has consistently demonstrated confusion around that for some reason. He also said his residency at the retirement home was approved by his expenditure officer and that he welcomes the investigation.
But the issue isn’t whether it was approved by the Board of Internal Economy. The issue is whether he resided there. While Deputy Minister Sarah Hoffman has requested an investigation on behalf of the Board of Internal Economy at the House of Commons, the Lake Bonavista Village Retirement Residence should have all the documentation as a matter of their adherence to Alberta’s regulations and compliance standards.
While the spin masters continue their work trying to paint Mrs. Kenney as a victim of online harassment, or Kenney himself as the dutiful son, that he may have paid out of pocket for the home his mother lived in is noble, but no further than many Candadians go for their parents. The difference is that few other Canadians can claim a subsidy to maintain their own home at the same time.
If Kenney’s claim cannot be independently verified through lease agreements or visitor logs, the idea that Jason Kenney may have fraudulently claimed a subsidy he had no right to during his mother’s residency at Lake Bonavista will throw shade on whether he should have been eligible prior to that as well. Canadians will wonder. Albertans will as well; and this election season isn’t long enough for them to forget.
But if evidence becomes available that suggests Kenney was indeed a resident at the retirement home, whether you support the Party should not negate its veracity. Tit for tat and all that.
This post contains both fact and opinion.