Monday, October 28, 2013

The Canadian Senate expenses scandal 2013

The Canadian Senate expenses scandal is a political scandal concerning the expense claims of certain Canadian senators. Mike Duffy, Mac Harb, Pamela Wallin, and Patrick Brazeau claimed travel and housing expenses from the Senate for which they were not eligible (Mac Harb was also part of the scandal, but retired to avoid both the loss of his pension and charges.). As a result, the Auditor General of Canada began investigating the expense claims of the entire Senate. Duffy, Wallin, and Harb eventually repaid the ineligible amount.


1 Overview
2 Mac Harb
3 Wright and Duffy affair
4 Pamela Wallin
5 References

Between November 21 and December 6, 2012, the Senate began investigating Duffy, Harb, and Brazeau's housing expense claims on the basis that they were ineligible to make them.[1] On February 8, 2013, the Senate hired an auditing firm to investigate the claims.

Two months later, Duffy repaid the more than $90,000 in expenses he claimed.[2] On May 9, 2013, the Senate released a report into the expenses along with the audit, and concluded that the rules were unclear.[1] Harb and Brazeau were nonetheless ordered to repay the expenses; neither has yet to do so. As of July 25, 2013, Harb still maintained his innocence;[3] on July 3, 2013, the Senate announced it would reduce Brazeau's wages to repay the expenses.[4]

Prior to the release of the Senate's report it emerged that it had been whitewashed by the Conservative-dominated committee to reflect less poorly on Mike Duffy, who was at that time a Conservative.[5] After two weeks of controversy, and amid concerns that Duffy was claiming travel expenses from both the Senate and the Conservative Party, the Senate reopened Duffy's audit.[6][7]

On March 22, 2013, Brazeau was expelled from the Conservative caucus over sexual assault allegations.[8]

In the months following the revelations, many of Canada's political parties reiterated their parties' opinions that the Senate should be reformed or abolished. Prime Minister Stephen Harper sought clarification from the Supreme Court of Canada on the federal government's power to reform or abolish the Senate, but a decision is not expected until 2014 or 2015.[9] Significant reform or abolition requiring a constitutional amendment would require the support of at least seven of ten provinces; however, the provinces' respective premiers do not consider either a high priority.[10]

A June 2013 poll revealed that in the wake of the controversy, 49% of Canadians wanted to reform the Senate, 41% wanted to see it abolished, 6% wanted to keep it as it was, and 4% were unsure.[11]

On May 12, 2013, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced they were reviewing the expense claims.[1]

On August 14, 2013, it was announced that the Auditor General of Canada would be reviewing the expense claims of all Senators.[12]
Mac Harb[edit]

On August 26, 2013, Mac Harb announced his retirement, and that he had paid back the outstanding $180,166.17 to the Senate. He also dropped all legal action against the Senate. Harb retired with a full parliamentary pension of $122,989 per year.[13]
Wright and Duffy affair[edit]

In February 2013, the Prime Minister's legal advisor, Benjamin Perrin, secretly drafted a letter of understanding between Nigel Wright, the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, and Duffy.[14] The letter stated Wright's intention to transfer $90 172 to cover Duffy's invalid expense claims. On May 15, 2013, the Prime Minister's Office confirmed that Wright sent Duffy a personal cheque in that amount; the federal Ethics Commissioner announced that he would review the case.[15] The next day, Duffy resigned from the Conservative caucus;[1] he now sits as an independent senator. Although Harper maintained his support for Wright, Wright's resignation was announced on May 19, 2013.[1]. On October 28, 2013, Stephen Harper stated in an interview that Wright had been "dismissed", contradicting the previous account of Wright's termination.[16]

On May 22, 2013, Harper denied knowledge of the cheque,[1]; on June 5, he stated that no one in his office other than Wright knew of the transaction[17] Harper's legal adviser also denied knowledge of the cheque.

On June 6, 2013, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) filed documents with the courts, contradicting these statements by revealing that three senior members of the Prime Minister's Office and another Conservative senator, Irving Gerstein, knew about the transfer.[18] The documents further revealed that the Conservative Party of Canada initially intended to pay $30 000 for Duffy to repay his expenses before they learned the full amount, that Duffy was being investigated over three separate allegations of fraud, and that the investigation began of the RCMP's own volition in March, 2013.[18]

On October 21, 2013, Duffy's lawyer claimed that the Prime Minister's Office "pushed" Duffy into accepting the cheque, contrary to the Prime Minister's statements that no one in his office other than Wright knew of the deal.[19] The next day, Duffy told the Senate that Harper personally told Duffy to repay the money, quoting him as saying, "It’s not about what you did. It’s about the perception of what you did that’s been created in the media. The rules are inexplicable to our base".[20] [21]
Pamela Wallin[edit]

In February 2013, an external audit of Pamela Wallin's travel expenses began. From December 1, 2010, through November 30, 2012, Senate records show that Wallin claimed $29,423 in "regular travel" expenses for direct flights from Ottawa to her home province of Saskatchewan or back. Her "other travel" expenses (to other Canadian destinations, including Toronto) were $321,027 over that same 24 month period.[22] Senator Wallin noted in a Globe and Mail op-ed, a great deal of the "other travel" was actually to and from her home province of Saskatchewan, but didn't count as "regular travel" because the flights did not start or end in Ottawa [23] Although Wallin listed Saskatchewan as her primary residence records show she possessed a valid Ontario Health Card indicating her primary residence was in Toronto where she has a condo.[24] Wallin was one of several senators who faced questions about whether they lived in the province for which they were appointed.

The Senate is concerned that Wallin's travel expenses are unrelated to Senate business and has appointed the external auditor Deloitte to examine refunds she has claimed. Preliminary findings indicated “a pattern of claiming Senate expenses on personal or other business unrelated to the Senate, including boards she sits on.”[25] Wallin earned approximately $1 million in stock options and fees while on corporate boards since her appointment as senator.[26]

In May 2013 Wallin resigned from the Senate Conservative caucus pending the results of the external audit of her expense.[27]

A Postmedia News analysis indicated Wallin was ranked second highest in overall spending at $369,593 behind recently retired Conservative Senator Gerry St. Germain who spent $378,292 during the same period.[28]

On August 13, 2013, an audit by Deloitte into her expense claims found that Wallin inappropriately claimed overnight stopovers in Toronto on her trips between Ottawa and Saskatchewan and criticized other travel by Wallin for business unrelated to the Senate. The audit also questioned several of Wallin's "networking events" but found that further review by the Senate was necessary to see if these events qualified as Senate business. The audit ordered Wallin to repay $121,348 in inproper expense claims and was referred to the RCMP.[29][30] The same day the audit was released Wallin held a news conference and called the audit "fundamentally flawed and unfair".[31] On 13 September 2013, it was announced that Wallin had reimbursed the Senate.[32]

^ Jump up to:a b c d e f Global News, and The Canadian Press. "Timeline: Key Dates in the Evolution of the Senate Expense-claim Controversy." Global News, 18 June 2013. Web. 27 July 2013.
Jump up^ Cheadle, Bruce. "Duffy says he’s repaid housing expenses" Global News, 19 Apr. 2013. Web. 27 July 2013.
Jump up^ Fife, Robert, and Phillip Ling. "RCMP Allege Senator Mac Harb Claimed Expenses on ′uninhabitable′ Home." CTVNews. CTV News, 25 July 2013. Web. 27 July 2013.
Jump up^ Smith, Joanna. "Senate Expenses Scandal: Patrick Brazeau's Wages to Be Clawed Back." The Star, 03 July 2013. Web. 27 July 2013.
Jump up^ Ditchburn, Jennifer. "Tory-dominated Senate Committee Deleted Tough Parts of Mike Duffy Expense Report: document." The National Post. The National Post, 23 May 2013. Web. 27 July 2013.
Jump up^ Press, Jordan. "Senate Committee Accused of Whitewashing Initial Report Decides to Reopen Mike Duffy’s Expense audit." The National Post. National Post, 22 May 2013. Web. 27 July 2013.
Jump up^ Radia, Andy. "Mike Duffy May Now Be Investigated for Double-dipping amid Growing Anti-Senate Sentiment." Yahoo! News Canada. Yahoo, 17 May 2013. Web. 27 July 2013.
Jump up^ Woods, Michael. "‘Weathering the Storm,’ Sen. Patrick Brazeau to ‘vigorously’ contest sexual Assault charges." National Post. The National Post, 22 Mar. 2013. Web. 27 July 2013.
Jump up^ Payton, Laura. "Tories to Refer Senate Reform Questions to Supreme Court."CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 01 Feb. 2013. Web. 27 July 2013.
Jump up^ Benzie, Robert. "Senate Scandals Should Not Influence Reform, Premiers Say." The Star, 26 July 2013. Web. 27 July 2013.
Jump up^ CBC News. "Majority Wants Senate Changed or Abolished, Poll Suggests."CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 20 June 2013. Web. 27 July 2013.
Jump up^ "Auditor general to review all senators' expenses". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 15 August 2013. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
Jump up^ "Senator Mac Harb pays back $231,000 in expenses, retires". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 26 August 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
Jump up^ Janus, Andrea. "PM's Former Legal Adviser Arranged Deal for Wright to Give Duffy $90K." CTVNews. CTV News, 20 May 2013. Web. 27 July 2013.
Jump up^ Stone, Laura. "Ethics Commissioner Reviewing Mike Duffy Affair." Global News. Global News, 15 May 2013. Web. 27 July 2013.
Jump up^ Cheadle, Bruce. [1] National Post. "Nigel Wright was ‘dismissed,’ Stephen Harper says — at odds with May statement that former chief of staff resigned"
Jump up^ [ Hansard, 5 June 2013.] House of Commons.
^ Jump up to:a b MacKinnon, Leslie. "8 Things Revealed by RCMP's Court Filings on Mike Duffy."CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 06 July 2013. Web. 27 July 2013.
Jump up^ MacKreal, Kim. "Duffy’s lawyer says Harper's office pushed Senator into scandal"The Globe and Mail, 21 October 2013. Web. 21 October 2013.
Jump up^ CBC News. [2] "Mike Duffy claims Harper told him to repay expense money". CBC News, 22 October 2013. Web. 22 October 2013.
Jump up^ The Canadian Press. [3] CityNews Toronto. 22 October 2013. Web. 22 October 2013.
Jump up^ "Financial Reports". Website of the Senate of Canada. Retrieved March 7, 2013.
Jump up^ "Wadena is my home, the Senate is my job; Globe and Mail". Retrieved March 7, 2013.
Jump up^ Campion-Smith, Bruce (2013 [last update]). "Pamela Wallin, Conservative senator, holds Ontario health card | Toronto Star". Retrieved February 27, 2013.
Jump up^ Smith, Joanna (2013 [last update]). "Senate asked Deloitte to broaden investigation into Sen. Pamela Wallin’s travel expenses | Toronto Star". Retrieved June 1, 2013.
Jump up^ Smith, Joanna (2013 [last update]). "Pamela Wallin earned approximately $1 million as corporate director since Senate appointment | Toronto Star". Retrieved June 6, 2013.
Jump up^ CBC News (2013 [last update]). "Senator Pamela Wallin leaves Conservative caucus - Politics - CBC News". Retrieved May 17, 2013.
Jump up^ Press, Jordan (2013 [last update]). "Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy among the top 10 spenders in the Senate | Canadian Politics | Canada | News | National Post" Retrieved March 8, 2013. "378,292"
Jump up^ "Pamela Wallin may be asked to pay more by Senate committee". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 15 August 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
Jump up^ "Pamela Wallin's 'troubling' expense audit headed to RCMP". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 13 August 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
Jump up^ "Pamela Wallin audit details set for public release". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 12 August 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
Jump up^ "Sen. Pamela Wallin reimburses Senate for questionable travel claims". Maclean's. 13 September 2013. Retrieved 13 September2013.