Pamela Wallin accuses 2 Senate colleagues of having 'personal vendettas'
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, October 23, 2013 9:21AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 23, 2013 9:12PM EDT
Sen. Pamela Wallin is accusing two Senate colleagues of having “personal vendettas” against her, and says that a motion to suspend her from the upper chamber without pay is “baseless and premature.”
In a measured and forceful speech in the Senate chamber Wednesday afternoon, Wallin accused the government and its leader in the Senate, Claude Carignan, of putting “the cart before the horse,” in attempting to oust her from the Upper Chamber.
Wallin singled out Sen. Marjory LeBreton, former government leader in the Senate, and Sen. Carolyn Stewart Olsen, saying they “could not abide” that she was outspoken in caucus, sometimes critical of their leadership and being an activist senator who “once garnered the praise of the prime minister.”
Wallin accused LeBreton and Stewart Olsen of leaking information to the media in a campaign that she says was designed “to cast my conduct in the worst possible light.”
“In this chamber, Senator Marjory LeBreton derided me, accusing me of having an inflated view of my role.
'“This narcissism … is the crux of the situation before us,’” Wallin quoted LeBreton as saying.
“In fact, the crux of the situation is not about narcissism – not hers or mine or anyone else’s – the crux of this matter is the lack of due process and a flawed system that allows personal vendettas to be indulged.”
Wallin said her lawyer wrote to Senate leadership asking for an investigation into the source of the leaks, but the request did not receive a reply.
When Wallin finished speaking, LeBreton immediately rose on a point of order to deny the allegations, saying “nothing could be further from the truth.”
LeBreton says she did not discuss Wallin’s expenses with anyone, and only spoke to Wallin about them when questions were first raised about some of her claims.
“I can’t imagine that Carolyn Stewart Olsen and I ever spent more than two minutes talking about Sen. Wallin,” LeBreton said. “This idea that we were these two people sitting in a back room hatching up a crazy plot, this is utter nonsense.”
LeBreton added: “I’m very sorry that you felt that you had to deliver that speech today.”
Carignan is moving motions to suspend Wallin, along with Senators Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau, for “gross negligence” regarding their expense claims. They would not receive pay or benefits, or have access to Senate resources.
The three, as well as former senator Mac Harb, were ordered to repay thousands of dollars in expenses after outside audit found they filed ineligible claims related to housing and travel.
Wallin spoke a day after Duffy rose in the chamber to attack the move to suspend him. In his fiery speech, Duffy implicated the Prime Minister’s Office, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in what he called a “conspiracy” to have him repay $90,000 in expenses to make a political liability go away, regardless of whether they were inappropriately claimed.
Duffy was not in the Senate on Wednesday, although Brazeau arrived after question period got underway.
Wallin also said that she believes that new travel expense rules, brought in force in June 2012, were used to assess her expense claims dating back to 2009.
“It was designed to inflate the numbers and to inflame public opinion,” she said of the move.
“In other words, they had to exaggerate the total amount of my alleged misspending so that the public outcry would justify the radical response we see in the motion they now propose.”
Wallin also said that earlier this year, Ray Novak, at the time Harper’s principal secretary, and LeBreton, called and said they were speaking for the prime minister. They demanded that she resign because “my being a part of the Conservative caucus was now an embarrassment to him,” Wallin said.
Wallin says she asked the pair, who called her on the Friday evening of theMay long weekend, why she had to resign when her audit had yet to be completed: “I was told again they were speaking for the prime minister, he wanted me gone.”
Wallin said she agreed only that she would recuse herself from caucus, but moments later LeBreton “broke the deal and publicly declared that I had resigned.”
She says follow-up emails from her lawyer to both LeBreton and Novak asking for an explanation have not received replies.
Wallin noted that her audit has been forwarded to the RCMP, and asked why the Mounties are not allowed to finish their work on her file before moving to oust her.
“Why would we not await the outcome of that process? You are the ones that called the RCMP in in the first place, you even sent them your report. You won’t even wait for the investigation to conclude?” Wallin said.
“Why is the Senate acting as accuser, judge, jury and executioner before I’ve had that day in court?
“That is exactly why this whole process is flawed.”
Wallin said she supports a motion put forward Tuesday by Liberal Sen. James Cowan that calls for special public hearings that would allow the senators to appear and tell their sides of the story.
Meanwhile, Stewart Olsen confirmed Wednesday that she is leaving the Senate subcommittee that was responsible for overseeing the audits of the senators’ expense claims.
In a statement to CTV News, Stewart Olsen said she asked for a committee change.
“I want more time to spend on (New Brunswick) issues and to sit on committees that reflect that. I have helped make changes in the rules for the Senate -- a goal of mine and think it is time to let someone new sit on this very important committee.”