Mike Duffy may be on trial for expense irregularities but a plan before the a secretive Senate committee could ensure no other senators face the same fate.
According to details obtained by The Toronto Star, senators found to have questionable travel or living expenses could quietly pay the Senate back without the public every finding out.
The Senate standing committee on internal economy, budgets and administration is planning to debate a resolution behind closed doors this week that would allow senators whose expenses are flagged by administration to take part in a confidential dispute resolution process involving an arbitrator, according to a draft obtained by the Star.
That process could come to an abrupt end at any time — or never even begin — if a senator decides to reimburse the expenses in question, says the draft resolution to be debated by the committee.
Senator Mike Duffy is currently on trial for fraud and breach of trust over $90,000 in disputed expenses that he paid back, with help from Nigel Wright, the former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Duffy's expenses had become a public embarrassment for the Conservative government when Wright gave Duffy the money to pay the expenses back. Under the new system it's likely future senators in similar situations would be kept secret.