Conservative MP Michelle Rempel says Wright wanted to ensure no taxpayer money 'on the hook'
Karolyn Coorsh, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, May 19, 2013 9:51AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, May 19, 2013 12:30PM EDT
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel said she’s “disappointed” over the ongoing Senate expenses scandal but stands firmly by her party, and the government is motivated by a “desire to make sure that we have accountability and transparency in the Senate.”
Speaking for the Conservatives on CTV’s Question Period Sunday, the Calgary-Centre North MP expressed her frustration over the expense claims controversy.
CTV Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife reported earlier this week that Nigel Wright, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, helped Sen. Mike Duffy pay back a $90,172 debt to the Senate for improperly claimed living expenses.
The PMO then confirmed that Wright, a former Bay Street executive, wrote a personal cheque to Duffy as a gift to an old friend, although sources say the two men are not close.
Rempel says that based on her understanding, there were no strings attached to that cheque.
“Based on my understanding, Mr. Wright was seized with a burden of making sure that taxpayers’ dollars were not on the hook in this situation,” Rempel said.
The interview was conducted before Sunday morning’s announcement that Wright had resigned.
“I think when these expenses came to light, there was a desire on behalf of the government to ensure that -- even though they might not pass the smell test -- that we need to make sure taxpayers first and foremost have a sense of accountability and transparency with this government. And I think that’s where these actions stem from.”
“Certainly, am I as a person disappointed in what appears to be some serious problems on behalf of one of our former senators? Yes, I am, and I’m sure your viewers are as well,” Rempel told CTV QP host Kevin Newman.
“But I don’t think that there can be an implication here that there is anything other than a desire to make sure that we have accountability and transparency in the Senate on a go-forward. ”
No one is more disappointed in the situation than Harper himself, Rempel said.
She said the Conservatives were brought into power with a promise for more government transparency and the government has not strayed from that mandate, citing the Conservatives’ introduction of The Federal Accountability Act.
“When you look at individual accountability and responsibility, you also have to understand that there a group of people that should not be painted with the same brush,” she said.
Speaking on Question Period, NDP MP Olivia Chow said there are many unanswered questions regarding the expense matters that came light last week.
“We need to get to the bottom of it, which is why we need an independent investigation,” Chow said.
What to expect when parliament reconvenes this week? Watch CTV Question Period live at 11 ET across the country for insights, including more from CTV Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife and the @CTVQP panel of political experts.