Senate motion would suspend Duffy, Wallin, Brazeau without pay for 'gross negligence'
Published Thursday, October 17, 2013 1:46PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 17, 2013 7:52PM EDT
The Senate is moving to suspend embattled Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau from the upper chamber without pay.
The government’s leader in the Senate, Claude Carignan, said the senators should be suspended for “gross negligence” in their handling of taxpayer money.
Carignan said three motions to suspend, one for each senator, were presented Thursday and will go before the Senate on Tuesday next week.
All three senators are under investigation by the RCMP external audits released last spring found they filed ineligible claims linked to housing and travel expenses.
“This is not an error of good will or accounting,” Carignan told reporters Thursday afternoon.
He said he was “angered enormously” by the Senate expense scandal and believes many Canadians are angry about it as well.
“When you have a position of privilege you need to respect the citizens and you have to present yourself with dignity,” he said.
If the motions pass, not only would Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau be suspended without pay, but they also would not be allowed access to Senate resources or living allowances.
“I hope they get the message,” Carignan said.
Before Parliament was prorogued earlier this year, Brazeau had already been suspended with pay after he was charged with assault and sexual assault. However, prorogation caused that suspension to be lifted.
News of the motions came shortly after Duffy announced he is taking a medical leave due to health concerns and won’t return to the Senate until he gets an “all-clear” from his medical team.
Carignan said Duffy’s medical leave will not affect the motion to suspend him.
In a letter sent to Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella, Duffy sought to explain his absence from Wednesday’s Speech from the Throne, which opened the fall session of Parliament.
Duffy revealed in the letter that he spent two-and-a-half days in hospital at the end of August after suffering “unstable angina,” or chest pains, at his Prince Edward Island home.
“On examination here this week, my Ottawa GP fears the disease has progressed,” Duffy wrote. “He is suggesting immediate tests. My GP suggests that to avoid further stress on my system, I stay off work until I get the all-clear from my medical team.”
Duffy had open-heart surgery in 2006 and during the operation, doctors found three blockages. However, due to complications, doctors only fixed “the main problem,” according to his letter, and did not fix the other two blockages.
“They suggested that surgery could come later,” Duffy wrote.
Duffy’s Senate expenses are the subject of an RCMP investigation after an outside audit last spring found he had filed ineligible claims. The Mounties are also investigating the $90,000 cheque Nigel Wright, former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, wrote to Duffy to help him repay those expenses.
Earlier this month, the RCMP filed court documents requesting bank records on allegations that Duffy used his Senate office budget to pay a friend $65,000 for work “that was of little or no value.”
Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau were all appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
But Carignan said the move to suspend them is “not a question of (being a) Conservative, Liberal or Independent.”
Carignan’s predecessor, Sen. Marjory LeBreton, told CTV’s Power Play Thursday that she’s “very supportive” of his motions.
“None of us could have anticipated the actions of these senators,” she said, noting that the expense scandal has damaged the Senate’s reputation.
“It’s been a death by a thousand cuts.”
LeBreton said it was new rules introduced by the Conservative-dominated Red Chamber that helped expose “very serious flaws” with some senators from both Conservative and Liberal caucuses, as well as flaws in the Senate administration.
Liberal Sen. Grant Mitchell said moving to suspend the three senators is “not an overreaction.”
LeBreton said Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau will have an opportunity to address the Senate before the vote takes place.