"My actions regarding expenses do not merit criticism," Duffy says

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Stephen Harper says he did not know about chief of staff's $90K payment to Mike Duffy

CHARLOTTETOWN - P.E.I. Senator Mike Duffy says he welcomes his expenses being sent back to a Senate committee for investigation and maintains his actions do not merit criticism.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper leaves Ottawa, Tuesday, May 21, 2013., on route to Lima, Peru. Harper will also visit Cali, Columbia for the Pacific Alliance summit.

Duffy released a statement Wednesday after ducking reporters for days as the controversy surrounding his housing expenses has remained the focus of intense national scrutiny.

Tuesday night, the Senate decided to send the matter of Duffy’s expenses back to the Committee on Internal Economy for further review.

In his statement this afternoon, Duffy says he welcomes this move.

“Canadians deserve to know all of the facts,” Duffy wrote.

“I am confident that when they do they will conclude, as Deloitte has already concluded, that my actions regarding expenses do not merit criticism.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper also addressed the issue of Duffy’s expenses for the first time since news of his former chief of staff’s involvement in the matter was revealed last week.

Harper says he did not know about – nor was he asked to sign off on – the arrangement that saw his chief of staff, Nigel Wright, cut a personal cheque for $90,000 to Duffy.

Harper also said he would not have allowed Wright, who has since resigned, to give the money to Duffy had he known about it.

Wright resigned Sunday, and Duffy quit the Conservative caucus last Thursday, after the details of their transaction began to emerge.

The arrangement between the two is also under investigation by the federal ethics commissioner. The RCMP is also reviewing Duffy expenses as well as those of at least two other senators.

In his statement this afternoon, Duffy said he will fully cooperate with all authorities reviewing his spending, but said he will have no further public comment until those processes are complete.

During question period in Ottawa this afternoon, Charlottetown MP Sean Casey asked the Harper government to apologize to Prince Edward Islanders “for the insult of this Senate appointment.”

(With files from The Canadian Press)

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