Review brings end to Wallin’s flights of fancy

You never know who you’re going to run into on the Ottawa-Toronto shuffle. You’ll find cabinet ministers, MPs, lobbyists, spin doctors, journalists — the legions who have one foot in each city. And on more than one occasion, the honourable senator from Wadena.

You never know who you’re going to run into on the Ottawa-Toronto shuffle.

You’ll find cabinet ministers, MPs, lobbyists, spin doctors, journalists — the legions who have one foot in each city. And on more than one occasion, the honourable senator from Wadena.

It’s unlikely I’ll run into Pamela Wallin again soon on her now infamous Toronto Two-Step on the way to and from Saskatchewan, her future now in the hands of the RCMP.

The Senate has clipped her wings, her taxpayer-funded wanderlust is now a form of house arrest, she is under order to pay back $121,348 in travel expenses (including the $38,369 she had forked over on her own).

Another $20,978 is still under review.

Wallin said she will repay the money plus interest, but it is unlikely she can rebuild her reputation.

I’m surprised I didn’t run into Wallin more often because we now know that the Saskatchewan senator stayed at her Toronto home more than 75 nights in 94 trips to Saskatchewan, claiming “Senate business,” time and again for trips home to her mid-Toronto condo.

A comprehensive audit of her travel and spending patterns released on Tuesday showed Wallin spent more time in Toronto than either Saskatchewan or Ottawa during the 45-month period studied.

Those Toronto stopovers cost taxpayers $31,025 more in higher air fare and cab fares than had she flown home directly to Saskatoon, then driven to Wadena. Of course, that is mere pocket change compared to the $532,508 (73 per cent legitimate) she billed in travel expenses over that time.

Perhaps most damning, auditors from Deloitte found Wallin and her staff made more than 500 additions, deletions or modifications to her personal calendar over the 1,369 days audited, turning up travel claims for non-existent dinners, speeches that were not made, a meeting that was actually done by phone. Her office deleted a reference to “Senate business” that referred to the convocation at Guelph University, where she was chancellor.

Wallin has blamed the record changes on advice provided by Conservative Sen. David Tkachuk, continuing a Wallin pattern of blaming everyone but herself. Since she has been under this cloud of suspicion, she has blamed her troubles on a mountain of paperwork she could not keep up with.

She has claimed there were no direct flights back to Saskatchewan from Ottawa, doubtless news to those booked out of here to Saskatoon on Air Canada on Tuesday evening.

She has claimed the Senate changed the rules, applying new 2012 rules to her pre-2012 travel, that the process was flawed, that she was an “activist” senator.

Fine, but she billed for a limo in Calgary while on private time, claimed $438.40 for “Senate business” to get from Trenton to Toronto to appear as the Conservative on a pre-election television panel and in late June 2011, she billed $1,654.88 return airfare from Ottawa to Toronto because she had been advised to remain close to Ottawa in case she was needed for a vote. She was receiving a living allowance in Ottawa, but flew home to Toronto “so she would be able to return to Ottawa in a timely fashion.’’

On one trip, Wallin told me on the ferry to the Toronto City Airport that she was heading to the Dominican Republic the next morning to speak at an international women’s conference.

What she didn’t tell me was that the $511.14 for the flight from Ottawa to Toronto to catch a connecting flight was billed as “Senate business.” Deloitte has told her to pay it back.

About a year later, with Wallin embroiled in the spending scandal and a news story about her plight strewn through the Porter departure lounge, she was less effusive.

As she spoke on her cellphone, she spotted me, scooped up three bags in one arm and without breaking conversation, disappeared, only to reappear in seat A1 of the Porter flight, where, as an airline board member, she had pre-boarded.

A “good morning, senator,’’ was met with a death stare.

Before poring through the 95-page audit, I was prepared to believe Wallin had been blindsided by an extended audit in which her older spending was subjected to newer rules, that she was indeed an “activist” senator operating in grey area in what constituted Senate business, that perhaps she and another disgraced celebrity-senator, Mike Duffy, had been given a nod and a wink when Stephen Harper appointed them, leaving them with the impression they were somehow operating on a different plane with different rules.

But after wading through the Deloitte study, one can only conclude that Wallin has buried herself and potentially eclipsed a lifetime of accomplishments under the weight of hubris and entitlement.

Tim Harper is a syndicated Toronto Star national affairs writer. He can be reached at tharper@thestar.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta’s budget promises more help for COVID-19 with a hard deficit

EDMONTON — Alberta’s COVID-19-era budget made a hard landing Thursday with an… Continue reading

The expansion of the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre has been discussed for over a decade. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer hospital expansion gets about $6 million in 2021 provincial budget

According to the government’s three-year plan, the project will get $59 million by 2024.

The Town of Sylvan Lake has launched a new contest to attract a new business. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Sylvan Lake offering rent-free storefront space to lure new businesses

Winning business proposal will get a storefront space rent-free for a year

Red Deer Rebels forward Josh Tarzwell is hoping to pick up where he left off last season as the 2020-21 WHL season kicks off Friday in Red Deer against the Medicine Hat Tigers. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Rebels set to host Tigers in WHL season opener

24-game WHL Alberta only season kicks off night Friday at the Centrium

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

Calgary Flames defenceman Mark Giordano tries to help goaltender David Rittich stop a shot from Ottawa Senators right wing Drake Batherson during first-period NHL action Thursday, February 25, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Colin White scores two goals to lead Ottawa Senators to a 6-1 win over Calgary Flames

Colin White scores two goals to lead Ottawa Senators to a 6-1 win over Calgary Flames

Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy Vice-Admiral Art McDonald is seen during an interview with The Canadian Press in Ottawa, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Military reeling as new defence chief steps aside amid allegations of misconduct

Military reeling as new defence chief steps aside amid allegations of misconduct

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta’s budget promises more help for COVID-19 with a hard deficit

Alberta’s budget promises more help for COVID-19 with a hard deficit

‘Black box’ in Woods SUV could yield clues to cause of wreck

‘Black box’ in Woods SUV could yield clues to cause of wreck

Team Saskatchewan skip Sherry Anderson reacts to her shot against Team Quebec at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Peterson’s wild-card team edges N.W.T. skip Galusha to qualify for championship pool

Peterson’s wild-card team edges N.W.T. skip Galusha to qualify for championship pool

No-size-fits-all residence approach a reality for Canadian Hockey League teams

No-size-fits-all residence approach a reality for Canadian Hockey League teams

FILE - New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist reacts after a save during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers in New York, in this Sunday, March 1, 2020, file photo. The Flyers defeated the Rangers 5-3. Star goalie Henrik Lundqvist will sit out the upcoming NHL season because of a heart condition, announcing the news a little more than two months after joining the Washington Capitals. Lundqvist posted a written statement and a videotaped one on social media Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, saying it was a "pretty tough and emotional day." The 38-year-old from Sweden was bought out by the New York Rangers after 15 seasons and signed a $1.5 million, one-year deal with Washington in October. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
Lundqvist back on ice, ‘months’ away from deciding future

Lundqvist back on ice, ‘months’ away from deciding future

Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa holds up water collected from Neskantaga First Nation, where residents were evacuated over tainted water in October, during a rally at Queen's Park in Toronto on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Feds didn’t supply enough resources to end water advisories on First Nations: auditor

Feds didn’t supply enough resources to end water advisories on First Nations: auditor

Most Read