April 29, 2015

Senate plans secret repayments of expenses

Brian LilleyArchive

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.

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commented 2015-04-30 10:51:36 -0400
I agree with you on this one, Terry Rudden! Transparency, disclosure, and accountability should be the norm! However, it appears that Senate rules governing some of these issues must be clarified. Duffy’s lawyer is doing a great job of exposing the lack of clear and accountable rules when it comes to Senate expenses.
commented 2015-04-29 19:06:31 -0400
What sort of BS is this. They all want to pay the stolen money back, and now everythings ok?
Get all their criminal asses out of there. Investigate every last one of them, charge them, convict them, jail them and throw away the key. Get rid of the Senate once and for all.
commented 2015-04-29 14:27:54 -0400
It would never do, to learn the facts, about all those Liberal appointed, Independent Senators. We do not want to upset poor Justin. Do we?
commented 2015-04-29 14:19:02 -0400
Of course this would be Liberal senators who get the quiet payback deal< no? If it’s adopted it should be called the “Duffy clause”.
commented 2015-04-29 14:01:43 -0400
Douglas McEwen, I agree. Most of the problem with expenses seems to be unclear rules. Don Plett tells us that when he became senator, he asked what qualified as expenses he could deduct and was told something to the effect of “whatever you want to deduct”. While many senators (and MPs) may have deducted way too much, been way too greedy, poor judgement is not criminal. The rules need to be tightened up and made clear. The watchdog concept is excellent.

As to the current bunch – if they want to pay us back, I say let’s allow that. Our courts need to be used for matters in which there is some dispute. But I still want that made public.
commented 2015-04-29 12:39:01 -0400
When my son was little he believed that ‘right and wrong’ was based in whether he got caught or not. Seems to me that the Senate has the same infantile attitude to ‘right and wrong’. We consider this childish bunch as providing sober second thought., I think not! At some tide you have to embrace the idea that “When the horse is dead, dismount”.
commented 2015-04-29 11:22:39 -0400
This is so damned simple I can’t believe there is so much debate here. How about this: Senator submits expense for approval; expense watchdog says “yes” or “no”. If answer is yes, senator gets money. If answer is no, senator gets no money. Done deal. Clear and effective guidelines would eliminate all this palaver and finger pointing. What am I missing here?
commented 2015-04-29 10:49:34 -0400
So let’s go through this again. Senator commits a crime. Senator gets caught. Senator says oopsie, pays back what he owes (with no disclosure – sure that’ll work well). No one knows about it.

What a disgusting idea – the politician pigs have raped this country for decades racking up trillions in debt. You get caught, you lose job, you get charged and you do time, just like LIBERAL SENATOR RAYMOND LAVIGNEhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Lavigne

You belong in jail Duffy.
commented 2015-04-29 10:17:21 -0400
Very bad idea. More disclosure, more transparency, and more accountability are needed – not better ways of covering up corruption.