Senate looking into continued suspension for embattled members: Speaker
Michelle Zilio, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, May 10, 2015 10:17AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 11, 2015 12:00AM EDT
The new Senate speaker says the Red Chamber is looking at ways to maintain the suspension without pay of senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin after the election, despite prior assumptions that their pay cheques would resume once this parliamentary session ends.
Leo Housakos told CTV's Question Period that the Senate has the power to continue to garnish the wages of the suspended senators after the current session wraps up.
Duffy, Brazeau and Wallin’s suspensions only apply to this session of Parliament, which is set to dissolve later this year before the October election. Prior to Housakos’ comments, the Senate had said that the $142,400 base salaries of Duffy, Brazeau and Wallin will resume during the election.
"It's not an automatic thing after his suspension, in the case of Senator Brazeau, that he will come back and start garnering a salary," said Housakos.
"In the case of Senator Duffy, he's already before the courts. He would certainly have to extract himself from the Senate of Canada until his court proceedings are done and again the ethics committee will probably review that case along with a few others as we go along."
It was originally thought that the Senate would have to debate a new motion to suspend the trio again without pay after Parliament reconvenes. But Housakos said the Senate will revisit each suspension when the new Parliament resumes.
In the meantime, Housakos said the Senate is awaiting a report from Auditor General Michael Ferguson reviewing every senator's budget; it’s expected at the beginning of June.
The report was initiated after allegations of misspending by four senators -- Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau, and former Liberal Senator Mac Harb. All except Wallin -- who is still under RCMP investigation -- face charges.
While Housakos could not say what was in the report, he said he and the Senate have given a "solemn oath" to make the entire thing public.
"If he (Ferguson) names names … (they) will be named. If he gives recommendations in terms of changes that are required to be made, we will make those changes as well," he said.
Housakos also said if the report finds that other senators have broken the law or hurt the reputation of the Senate, "we will be as severe with those cases as we have been severe with previous cases.” He added that the Red Chamber won’t hesitate to refer cases to the proper authorities as needed.
For Housakos, the report will be a "watershed moment" for the Senate.
"I look forward to, one day, the Canadian people looking at the Senate of Canada as a place where they can empower themselves to fight for issues that are important to Canadians."
Housakos was named the new Speaker earlier this month after former speaker Pierre Claude Nolin died of a rare form of cancer.