Nine senators to have spending referred to RCMP
Published Tuesday, May 26, 2015 10:44AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 26, 2015 10:09PM EDT
Nine senators will have their spending referred to the RCMP after Auditor General Michael Ferguson hands over his long-awaited audit to the Senate late next week.
The report will be given to the Board of Internal Economy, and released to the public the week of June 8.
Most of the nine senators are no longer sitting in the upper chamber, CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported Tuesday.
Another 21 senators filed questionable expenses that Ferguson says should be repaid.
If all 30 senators want to dispute Ferguson’s findings, the Senate has appointed former Supreme Court of Canada justice Ian Binnie as a special arbitrator. He served as a Supreme Court justice for nearly 14 years before his retirement in 2011. In the 1980s, he served as the associate deputy minister of justice.
Sitting senators who don't repay the funds will have their wages garnished, Senate speaker Leo Housakos said Tuesday.
Retired senators will also have access to the arbitration process and will be asked to sign an agreement that the process is binding, Housakos said. If they fail to repay what Binnie says is owed, the Senate will take them to court.
Housakos said the Senate has “all the trust in the world” in Binnie’s credibility. He said the Senate is “working hard” to ensure transparency, as well as fairness for the senators whose expense claims are questioned. He said all of Binnie’s decisions will be made public.
Binnie said the new process will be independent, fair and impartial. "Every citizen has the right to due process," he said.
"The Senate arbitration process ensures this," he added.
No such arbitration process existed in 2013, when the Senate voted to suspend Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau.
Duffy has since been charged with fraud, breach of trust and bribery and is now on trial.
So far, Duffy has paid back $90,172 in disallowed expenses.
Brazeau also faces charges relating to his Senate expenses. The Senate has garnished his wages to recover $48,745.
Wallin has paid back $138,969 related to her expense claims.
Mac Harb, who retired as a Liberal Senator in 2013, paid back $231,649 following the first audit.