Light shed on Senate scandal

Some startling details emerged last week into the ongoing Senate expense scandal—and the findings could spell trouble for Sen. Pamela Wallin and the Conservative government of Stephen Harper.
Back in the 2011 campaign, the NDP raised red flags about Conservative and Liberal senators campaigning on the public dime. We asked Canadians to help us out by e-mailing us or using the #sawasenator hashtag on Twitter and other social media.
Our campaign received a lot of responses from Canadians all across the country.
The reason we did this is because we knew that unelected and unaccountable senators with jobs for life—you know, like Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin—were out on the campaign trail working hard to elect Conservatives right across the country.
It was obvious to us at the time that something was amiss. We had never seen so many senators out and about doing anything, but especially campaigning for a political party.
Following the election, New Democrats asked Mr. Harper in Question Period how he could allow senators to campaign using public dollars.
In response, Mr. Harper offered on June 4, 2013: “Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party has been clear that it pays its own campaign expenses.”
As it turns out, this statement was completely false.
Fast forward to last week’s release of an independent audit conducted by Deloitte of Ms. Wallin’s travel expenses. It found many problems with her travel, but mostly that she was undertaking personal business while on these trips and billing the Senate as if it were part of her work in Parliament.
The cost to taxpayers of Ms. Wallin’s ineligible travel came to more than $120,000.
I think the worst part was that the auditors found that Ms. Wallin charged taxpayers for attending partisan Conservative fundraising events in Saskatchewan, Toronto, Kitchener, and Montreal (a fundraising gala for former prime minister Brian Mulroney), as well as a TV panel appearance during the election campaign to spin for her political party.
So, mark this week down as the one when it was confirmed that you (yes, you!) helped pay the travel and accommodation expenses of Ms. Wallin as she worked hard to help elect Conservatives MPs right across the country.
If you think this is bad, though, wait until the audit on the other 104 senators, including the 59 senators that Mr. Harper has appointed, is completed sometime in the next year or so.
In other words . . . stay tuned.

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