Senator Mac Harb claimed an “uninhabitable house” as his primary residence: report

·Politics Reporter

Move over Mike Duffy -- It's time for Mac Harb to take centre-stage in the Senate expense scandal.

CTV News has obtained a copy of a RCMP affidavit, about the Harb investigation, filed in court on Thursday.

The report is nothing short of damning.

It claims that — as a long time Ottawa resident — Harb purchased a home in Cobden, 123 kilometres from Ottawa, only three months after being appointed to the Senate in 2003 by then Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien.

Coincidentally — or not — Senators are allowed to claim a living allowance if their primary residence is more than 100 kilometres from our nation's capital.

But, as explained by CTV, the mounties are alleging that Harb didn't really live there.

"By all accounts, that house was largely uninhabitable for the first three years that he owned it due to demolition and reconstruction," [lead investigator RCMP Cpl. Greg Horton] said.

In October 2007, Harb sold 99.99 per cent of the ownership of the Cobden home to Magdalene Teo, then the Brunei high commissioner to Canada. Harb maintained a 0.01 per cent of the stake in the property, but still claimed it as his primary residence so he can continue to collect a Senate housing allowance.

The full report by CTV can be read here.

[ Related: Senator Mac Harb owes over $230,000 in improperly claimed expenses ]

The RCMP have also now produced and the court has accepted a production order asking Senate staff to provide details about Harb's travel and cell phone expenses.

In an interview with Postmedia News, Harb's lawyer advised caution with regard to the RCMP report.

"You will understand that it would be inappropriate to respond to the allegations you refer to through the press. Great caution should be used with respect to unverified allegations made at the investigative stage," Simon Ruel, said.

"Senator Harb has not been interviewed by the RCMP and the information you mention, which we have not seen, has not been verified. Sen. Harb will co-operate with the authorities. He maintains that his declarations of primary residence were accurate."

[ Related: Constitutional can of worms? Report suggests Saskatchewan to introduce motion to abolish the Senate ]

Harb resigned from the Liberal caucus in May, vowing to fight a Senate edict which now is asking him to pay back $231,649 in improperly claimed living expenses.

To date, he's repaid $51,000, in protest.

News of Harb's growing debt puts Liberal leader Justin Trudeau in an awkward position.

Last month, in an interview with Global News, Trudeau suggested that Harb's troubles were "an honest mistake or a misunderstanding of the rules."

"For me, there’s a real difference between what Mac Harb is going through and what Senators Duffy and Wallin seem to have on their plate," he said adding that Harb could be allowed back into the Liberal fold once the matter is cleared.

The RCMP seem to think otherwise.

(Photo courtesy of The Canadian Press)

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