EDITORIAL: Senate expenses beg questions

Conservatives facing criticism in wake of yet another Senator with "troubling" travel expenses.

There can be no doubt Pamela Wallin has joined a select, but unenviable, group of senators, following fallout over her “troubling” travel expenses.

The ostracized few – including fellow former Conservatives Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau – are no longer permitted to charge travel expenses other than direct flights to and from their home ridings.

Wallin’s apparent habit of charging taxpayers for sidetrips to Toronto, while travelling between Saskatchewan and Ottawa, is part of a pattern that led auditors to call for her to repay more than $121,000 of her travel claims for 2009-’12.

Wallin argues auditors used 2012 rules to evaluate pre-2012 expenses and suggests some discrepancies are a result of sloppy bookkeeping. Others suggest senators were given erroneous information when they assumed their duties.

None of which alters the fact that Wallin – as a former high-profile TV personality, like the previously disgraced Duffy – should have known the damage bad optics have done time and again to political figures, particularly when there is any suspicion of misuse of the public dime.

It’s no secret that Wallin – like Duffy – was an appointee of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and that both were vociferous in campaigning on behalf of his party. Could that have accounted for a certain sense of invulnerability on her part?

While the Conservatives have since done everything they can to distance themselves from Wallin, Harper has not escaped criticism for giving Wallin’s expenses a clean bill of health as recently as February. By May, Wallin was asked to resign from the Conservative caucus.

Asked for comment on the Wallin affair, South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale Conservative MP, Russ Hiebert responded by email, also noting former-Liberal Senator Mac Harb’s fall from grace after alleged financial improprieties.

“I think all Canadians have been disappointed to learn about the apparent actions of Senators Wallin, Harb and Duffy, all of who have been removed from their Conservative or Liberal caucuses.”

While noting he awaits a “just resolution” of these matters at the hands of an RCMP investigation, he said these cases had led the Harper government to “toughen up” Senate rules and demonstrated the need for Senate reform.

But constituents could be forgiven for asking what changed about Wallin’s expense claims, between February and May, to alter Harper’s tune so dramatically on such an ardent – and presumably useful – supporter in the red chamber.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Semi and BMW collide on South Surrey highway

At least one person to hospital, both vehicles sustained significant damage

White Rock dogs-on-promenade survey shows majority approval

City figures suggest that off-season program could continue

UPDATE: Pedestrian dies after being hit by bus in uptown White Rock

Collision occurred July 3 at North Bluff Road and Johnston Road

PHOTOS: South Surrey tractor project evokes ‘$1-million smile,’ helps connect neighbours

Retired Surrey firefighter Ron Henze began project for friend’s dad to fill time during pandemic

Intent of killing at centre of Surrey man’s West Kelowna murder trial

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Allison Beames is anticipated to return with her decision in August

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

Langley vigil demands justice for Ontario animal activist killed protesting slaughterhouse

More than two dozen people gathered at Britco Pork to remember Regan Russell, and fight Bill 156

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

Most Read

l -->