Senate will not immediately implement AG recommendations
CTV News has learned the Senate will not immediately implement recommendations put forth in a costly auditor general's report due out today, even as the upper chamber faces heavy criticism for alleged spending abuses by at least 30 of its members.
CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife says the Liberal-appointed Opposition Leader and Conservative senate leader have indicated they will not immediately accept Auditor General Michael Ferguson's recommendations to clean up the Senate and better police members' spending habits.
Ferguson spent two years and $21 million developing a set of strong recommendations aimed at increasing fiscal oversight in the upper chamber. Ferguson's recommendations include setting up an independent panel of experts to review spending and conduct regular audits of senators' expenses.
Jim Cowan, who leads the Liberal-appointed members of the Senate, said it would be "unwise" and "premature" to accept the auditor general's report without reviewing it first.
"It took the AG two years to produce this report," Cowan told other Liberal-appointed senators, in a memo obtained by Fife. "Much more study and consultation needs to take place on our part before any recommendations can be accepted or rejected."
He added that he felt it would be "unreasonable to expect our caucus or the Senate to respond definitively on Tuesday."
Cowan is one of 30 current and former senators whose questionable spending habits are detailed in the auditor general's report.
Cowan said on Monday that he has repaid the $10,397 that he is allegedly on the hook for in the AG report. Cowan also stood by his spending practices, calling them "entirely appropriate" in an interview with CTV Atlantic.
Speaker Leo Housakos also repaid about $7,500 in travel expenses.
Housakos has forwarded nine of the 30 senators' cases to the RCMP for further investigation.
The 30 senators' questionable expense claims add up to almost $1 million, with at least one senator's expenses totalling more than $175,000.
Those 30 names don't include Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau, and Mac Harb, who are in court or will be soon for alleged spending abuses.