Bid to suspend senators exposes rift in Tory ranks

The Harper government’s bid for summary execution of disgraced senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau has turned into an agonizingly slow soap opera that is exposing a nasty — and increasingly personal — family feud within the ruling Conservative caucus.

OTTAWA — The Harper government’s bid for summary execution of disgraced senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau has turned into an agonizingly slow soap opera that is exposing a nasty — and increasingly personal — family feud within the ruling Conservative caucus.

Debate over government motions to suspend, without pay, the three erstwhile Conservatives continued to rage in the Senate for the third straight day — with no end in sight.

Thursday’s debate saw Marjory LeBreton, former government leader in the Senate, fired back at Duffy for alleging she was part of a “monstrous” conspiracy to intimidate him into accepting a secret deal to pay back ineligible expenses or face being disqualified from sitting in the Senate.

She variously described Duffy’s claims as “utterly preposterous,” “blatant falsehood” and “stretching credulity.”

And, although LeBreton didn’t directly question Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s judgment in appointing Duffy to the upper chamber, she revealed that she was never a fan of the former broadcast journalist, who hosted a daily show on federal politics until his elevation to the Senate in 2009.

“I sometimes found myself . . . frustrated by his style of journalism, trading as he did, more often than not, on gossip and the latest hot rumour,” LeBreton told the upper chamber.

“And sometimes I was so disgusted that I felt like putting my foot through the television set.”

When anyone complained, Duffy would say, “It’s showbiz,” LeBreton said, implying that Duffy has taken the same approach to justifying his role in the Senate expenses scandal.

Duffy and Brazeau, along with former Liberal senator Mac Harb, are under investigation by the RCMP for allegedly fraudulently claiming Senate housing allowances and living expenses.

The Mounties are also investigating the fact that Duffy accepted $90,000 from Harper’s former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, to reimburse his ineligible expenses.

That $90,000 cheque was again a focal point down the hall during the daily question period in the House of Commons, where the prime minister’s combative bluster from the day before was gone, replaced by a bob-and-weave defence.

Where Harper insisted in June that nobody but Wright and Duffy knew of the reimbursement scheme, he changed his tune Thursday, saying Wright “informed very few people” — all of them known to be key Harper confidantes.

“Mr. Speaker, I refer the prime minister to Hansard of June 5,” retorted NDP Leader Tom Mulcair. “There was no ‘very few’ in there. It was ‘nobody.”’

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

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Marcus Golczyk, with Taco Monster, hands food to a customer during Food Truck Drive and Dash in the Westerner Park parking lot in Red Deer Friday afternoon. The drive-thru event will run every Thursday from 4-7 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through June. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff
Food Truck Fridays, Food Truck Drive and Dash return in Red Deer

Red Deerians are able to take in a drive-thru food truck experience… Continue reading

Don and Gloria Moore, of Red Deer, are set to celebrate their 70th anniversary later this month. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

Red Deer couple Don and Gloria Moore are set to celebrate their… Continue reading

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault chairs a premiers virtual news conference as premiers John Horgan, B.C., Jason Kenney, Alberta, and Scott Moe, Saskatchewan, are seen onscreen, Thursday, March 4, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Several provinces bring in new restrictions as high COVID-19 case numbers persist

Several provinces are gearing up to tighten public health measures once again… Continue reading

Members of the RCAF take part in a Royal Canadian Air Force change of command ceremony in Ottawa on Friday, May 4, 2018. The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open its doors to military pilots from other countries as it seeks to address a longstanding shortage of experienced aviators. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
RCAF turns to foreign pilots to help with shortage as commercial aviators stay away

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open… Continue reading

An arrivals and departures information screen is seen at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Halifax on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. The chief executive of Atlantic Canada's largest airport is hoping for COVID-19 testing for arriving passengers "sooner rather than later," as an added measure to combat the province's third wave of the virus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Halifax airport CEO hopes for more on-site COVID testing ‘sooner rather than later’

HALIFAX — The chief executive of Atlantic Canada’s largest airport is hoping… Continue reading

Shoppers wear mask as they shop at a nursery & garden shop on Mother's Day weekend during COVID-19 pandemic in Wilmette, Ill., Saturday, May 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Tearful reunions mark second Mother’s Day under pandemic

Last Mother’s Day, they celebrated with bacon and eggs over FaceTime. This… Continue reading

Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet, standing, watches the game during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild won 5-2. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
Tocchet won’t return as coach of Coyotes after 4 seasons

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes and coach Rick Tocchet have mutually… Continue reading

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella shouts at an official after a fight between Columbus Blue Jackets' s Gavin Bayreuther and Florida Panthers' Sam Bennett during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, April 19, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Tortorella out after 6 years as Columbus Blue Jackets coach

COLUMBUS, Ohio — John Tortorella is out as coach of the Columbus… Continue reading

A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada's vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel's approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images
Parks Canada captive caribou breeding proposal gets OK from scientific review panel

JASPER, Alta. — A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada’s vanishing… Continue reading

The smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alta., are seen in a May 16, 2011, file photo. The wildfire that is devastating large swaths of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray comes just five years after another blaze destroyed 400 buildings and left 2,000 people homeless in Slave Lake, Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ian Jackson
Ten years later: Five things to know about the Slave Lake wildfire

A wildfire burned about one-third of Slave Lake in northern Alberta in… Continue reading

Most Read