It has recently come to light that the Senate Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets, and Administration has constituted a three-member subcommittee to explore whether the living allowance expenses of several senators are legitimate. However, if the problem appears to be widespread, then it will be more than a question of whether a few tens of thousands of dollars need to be returned—it will be a question of whether several senators hold legitimate seats.
Section 23(5) of the Constitution Act, 1867 requires that each member of the Senate "be resident in the Province for which he is appointed." The Honourable Senator Mike Duffy (Prince Edward Island) recently agreed to pay back his living allowances for what he had identified as his "second home" in Ottawa, because it was revealed to be in all material respects his primary residence. This is more than a question of whether the honourable senator claimed public funds inappropriately; it is moreso a question of whether, if he is not primarily resident in Prince Edward Island, he is constitutionally entitled to sit as a senator in the Upper House to start with.
In the event that several senators are found by the internal economy committee to not fulfill the provincial residency requirements, then the Senate could be put in a position where it is required to exercise its section 33 authority under the Constitution Act, 1867, to declare several senators to be "not qualified" and to thereby expel them from the Upper House of Parliament.
This investigation will be conducted over the next several years by The Honourable Senator Elizabeth Marshall Q.C. (Newfoundland and Labrador), the Whip for Her Majesty's Government; The Honourable Senator Gerald Comeau (Nova Scotia); and The Honourable Senator Larry Campbell (British Columbia). The chairperson of the three-person subcommittee, Senator Marshall, previously served as the Auditor General of Newfoundland and Labrador.