Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Thanks, Chronicle Herald....

David Bulger oversimplifies Canadian law in regards to residence

Among those looking for further excuse -- any further excuse -- to complain about Stephen Harper's recently-appointed Senators, University of Prince Edward Island law professor David Bulger seems to think he's hit a home run.

Mike Duffy's appointment to the Senate, he insists, is unconstitutional.

Bulger insists that Mike Duffy resides in Ottawa, not Prince Edward Island.

"What it comes down to is: does he have to be a resident in the province at the time when he’s appointed? Some of us, and I am one of them, would argue yes," Bulger insists.

Bulger goes on to claim that the Elections act is the only piece of legislation in Canada that defines an individual's residence. "It states if you work in one place and you live in another, then where you sleep is your residence — and Mike Duffy sleeps in Ottawa," he continued.

Unfortunately for Bulger, however, this isn't true. The truth is that various pieces of legislation in Canada define what an individual's residence is. These acts cover various things, from taxation to eligibility for social services.

While for the most part these acts stipulate that individuals have to live full-time in those provinces in order to be eligible for social services, these laws do maintain exceptions for individuals who must spend significant portions of the year -- in some cases, up to eight months -- living outside of their home province for the purpose of work or education.

To top it off, Bulger's insistence that where an individual sleeps defines their residence is incredibly oversimplistic. It overlooks the very nature of the profession that Duffy -- and many other Canadians -- work in.

Simply put, Duffy works as a journalist. His job -- which one expects that he will be resigning from -- required him to spend significant portions of the year in Ottawa.

Duffy's job is very similar to other examples: blue collar shift workers who often work in other provinces while maintaining residences at home, and the other example that Bulger himself mentions, that of a Member of Parliament.

In the specific latter case, the individual in question lives for significant portions of the year in Ottawa while they work in Parliament. Yet when election time rolls around, these individuals vote not where they sleep for most of the year -- in Ottawa -- but rather in their own ridings, where they presumably maintain permanent residences.

Likewise, shift workers who in many cases can sleep up to two thirds of the year in aother riding, province, or even country vote not where they sleep, as Bulger insists, but in the riding in which they maintain permanent residences.

One would have expected a Constitutional expert of Bulger's alleged calibre to know the difference. One would at least have expected the editorial staff of the Chronicle Herald to check Bulger's facts before reporting them.

Other bloggers writing on this topic:

Canadian Firebrand - "Mike Duffy Gets His Reward"

John Cairns - "Big TV News Names to the Senate: Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin"

LeDaro - "Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin: Santa Did Visit Them"

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