RCMP looking at Senate expense claims

The RCMP says it is examining senators’ expense claims following an independent audit and pointed reports from the upper chamber’s internal economy committee.

OTTAWA — The RCMP says it is examining senators’ expense claims following an independent audit and pointed reports from the upper chamber’s internal economy committee.

But the Mounties stressed Sunday it was too early to know whether they will open a full-fledged investigation into accusations that three senators improperly claimed a housing allowance.

At issue is whether Conservative Mike Duffy, former Conservative Patrick Brazeau and Liberal Mac Harb were truly eligible for the allowance, intended to compensate senators who must maintain a secondary residence in Ottawa.

The matter is currently with the RCMP national division’s sensitive and international investigations section, said Sgt. Julie Gagnon, a force spokeswoman.

Based upon an evaluation of the information at hand, the RCMP “may or may not initiate an investigation,” she said.

“The RCMP is not in a position to comment further on this specific matter at this time.”

Generally, the RCMP would confirm an investigation only in the event that it results in criminal charges, Gagnon said.

“Should the investigation not generate sufficient evidence to support the laying of criminal charges, the RCMP would conclude its file.”

Confirmation the RCMP is looking into the matter capped days of charged debate, finger-pointing and speculation over the contentious issue of Senate entitlements.

Directed by the Senate’s internal economy committee to study the work and travel patterns of the three senators, independent auditor Deloitte concluded Duffy, Brazeau and Harb live primarily in the national capital region, but that the rules governing housing claims were unclear.

Still, the Tory-dominated committee said in the cases of Harb and Brazeau the rules were “amply clear,” and that the two senators must pay back the housing allowances they claimed.

Under the rules, senators whose “primary residence” is more than 100 kilometres from the national capital region may claim legitimate travel expenses as well as living expenses while in the capital for Senate business.

The committee’s reports on both Brazeau and Harb say that “plainly, if a Senator resides primarily in the (national capital region), he or she should not be claiming living expenses for the (region).”

No such language was used in the committee report on Duffy, which noted he had voluntarily repaid $90,172 in allowance monies.

That led Senate Opposition leader James Cowan to accuse the Conservatives of going easy on Duffy, a high-profile former television journalist appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to represent Prince Edward Island.

Harb listed a home in Westmeath, Ont., northwest of Ottawa, as his chief residence. He has signalled he will go to court to fight an order to reply $51,500, and has resigned from the Liberal caucus in the meantime.

Brazeau, who claimed a primary residence in Maniwaki, Que., was kicked out of the Conservative caucus this year after being charged with assault and sexual assault.

Cowan said Sunday he would welcome an RCMP probe of the housing allowance claims.

“My personal preference is that they do that,” the Liberal senator said in an interview.

“I’ve always felt that, when you have a situation like this and you’ve got large sums of public money involved, that if it looks like the Senate is simply closing ranks around its own, that that is a difficult concept to sell.”

Cowan said members of the public he’s heard from are “puzzled and they’re angry.”

Having said this, he feels the Senate handled the matter appropriately by calling in the external auditors.

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

Just Posted

A worker is constructing the frame of a new building at Clearview Ridge, near 30th Avenue and 67th Street in Red Deer. (Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff).
Alberta wages fell more than any other province in Canada in 2020

Alberta compensation fell by six per cent last year

People board and leave at the Century Park light-rail transit station in Edmonton on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Racism is a real problem:’ Growing number of attacks against Black Muslim women

‘Racism is a real problem:’ Growing number of attacks against Black Muslim women

Alberta Health Services declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Revera Aspen Ridge on Feb. 1. (Photo by Advocate staff)
Two COVID deaths linked to Revera seniors residence in Red Deer

35 active COVID cases at seniors residence

Red Deer musician Lorry Boschman has written a song about love in the time of COVID-19. Proceeds from his single, Romance during a Pandemic, will be donated to the local United Way. (Contributed photo).
Local musician records a song about love in the time of COVID-19 — for charity

Lorry Boschman will donate some proceeds to the United Way

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre can accommodate up to 20 patients requiring a ventilator, says Alberta Health Services.  File photo by Advocate staff
Opinion: UCP government reneging on Red Deer hospital funding

Another year, another Alberta budget and another blow to central Albertans. Budget… Continue reading

Seattle Storm guards Sue Bird, right, and Jordin Canada pose for photos Wednesday, March 3, 2021, on the roof of the Space Needle in Seattle after they raised a flag with the team's new logo on it. Bird re-signed with the Storm earlier in the week. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Sue Bird staying busy with 20th Seattle season on horizon

Sue Bird staying busy with 20th Seattle season on horizon

Lille players celebrate after Jonathan David scored his side's second goal during the French League One soccer match between Lille and Marseille at the Stade Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, France, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
David scores 2 as Lille wins to stay two points clear of PSG

David scores 2 as Lille wins to stay two points clear of PSG

Canada defender Shelina Zadorsky, right, passes the ball in front of Argentina forward Sole Jaimes (9) during the second half of a SheBelieves Cup women's soccer match, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. Alphonso Davies and Shelina Zadorsky have been named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Phelan M. Ebenhack
Davies, Zadorsky named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February

Davies, Zadorsky named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February

Manchester United's Fred, left, and Crystal Palace's Jordan Ayew challenge for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Crystal Palace and Manchester United at Selhurst Park stadium in London, England, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (Mike Hewitt/Pool via AP)
Grueling season starting to catch up with Man U, Leicester

Grueling season starting to catch up with Man U, Leicester

Gary Sanchez goes deep, Yankees hit three home runs to beat Blue Jays 4-1

Gary Sanchez goes deep, Yankees hit three home runs to beat Blue Jays 4-1

Toronto Raptors guard Norman Powell (24) dunks as Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Detroit, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. The undermanned Toronto Raptors, down five players and six members of their coaching staff due to health and safety protocols, are scheduled to host the Detroit Pistons in their first action since last Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Carlos Osorio
Powell, Lowry do their bit but undermanned Raptors beaten handily by the Pistons

Powell, Lowry do their bit but undermanned Raptors beaten handily by the Pistons

Canada's Ghislaine Landry, left, runs past France players during the Women's Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco, Friday, July 20, 2018. The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, grounded last year by the pandemic, will return for the women in May. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jeff Chiu
World Rugby unveils condensed 2021 sevens schedule with Vancouver a question-mark

World Rugby unveils condensed 2021 sevens schedule with Vancouver a question-mark

Most Read