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Ottawa Star • November 7, 2013


Hockey Outside audit into cards as wayward Senate part of “Hall expenses cost taxpayers of Shame” almost $530,000 unveiled by NDP O By Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press

By Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

CALGARY—The federal NDP is immortalizing members of the current Senate. The party has released a set of 99 Ottawa senator hockey cards as part of the “Senate Hall of Shame.” “We think these playing cards that don’t come with gum but come with a lot of information will become really popular on the streets of Canada in the coming weeks,” said Peter Julian, the NDP Member of Parliament who was in Calgary to observe the Conservative policy convention. The tongue-in-cheek cards include a photo of the senator with party affiliation and career stats. It lists both the appointment and scheduled retirement date and the total estimated cost to Canadians based on the amount of salary and office expenses the senators would get during their time in public office. There’s also a brief bio. “Long-time journalist turned consul general Pamela Wallin was appointed to the Senate in the Class of ’08. This theoretical senator from Saskatchewan really lives in Toronto, when she isn’t crossing the country campaigning on the taxpayer’s dime,” reads the card. The total cost to taxpayers was listed at $3,257,425. Mike Duffy’s cost was $1,853,381. “This former journalist scored the scoop of a lifetime when Stephen Harper appointed him in 2008. He was a constant on the Conservative fundraising circuit, but one place you won’t find him much is in Prince Edward Island, the province he claims to represent,” the card said. One of the biggest pricetags is attributed to the third senator that the Conservatives are trying to suspend without pay for past indiscretions. Patrick Brazeau’s total bill comes to $7,981,274, according to the NDP. “The youngest current Senator got expelled from the Conservative caucus after being appointed by Harper four years earlier. He got caught making false claims abut his primary residence, and was charged with sexual assault in the same year,” the card said. The cards also single out Duffy in where he represents as “Prince Edward Island???” and Wallin for representing “Saskatchewan/Toronto/New York???”.

TTAWA—The effort to hold Canada’s allegedly free-spending senators to account has a new price tag—and it’s a whopper. The independent audit of Sen. Pamela Wallin’s expenses has cost taxpayers $390,058, nearly three times the amount of ineligible expenses she was required to pay back, Senate officials disclosed Friday. It’s also more than twice the total cost the auditing firm in question, Deloitte, billed for its review of expense claims filed by senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and now-retired Liberal Mac Harb.

The audit into their living allowances and expenses cost $138,784. “We know this is a significant cost,” said a statement from Sen. Gerald Comeau, the Conservative chairman of the Senate’s board of internal economy, which oversees contracts and spending. “However, once the audit was ordered, we had to allow it to be fully concluded in order to get a fair and consistent reading of the issues involved.” Wallin has paid back more than $138,000 in expenses declared ineligible. Some $90,000 involving Duffy was paid by the prime minister’s former • PAGE 11 chief of staff. Harb gave back $231,649, covering eight years, and Brazeau is having his $48,744 expenses tab taken out of his paycheque. “Sadly, it is the price to find the infractions that were found,” said Sen. Claude Carignan, the Conservative government leader in the Senate. New Democrat MP Alexandre Boulerice said an audit was necessary, but he wonders why it had to be done by an outside firm when the federal government already has extremely competent services in the auditor general’s office. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation agreed, but pointed out the auditor general works to his own timetable and reports to Parliament as a whole— something that wouldn’t sit well with the Harper government’s damage-control effort. “What they wanted was to control the timing, the release of the information. They wanted an advance look at it,” said Gregory Thomas, the federation’s national director. The auditor general is now reviewing the expense claims of everyone in the upper chamber.

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