REGINA — Premier Brad Wall says there is disappointment in Saskatchewan over an expense scandal involving Sen. Pamela Wallin, who represents the province in the upper house.
An audit of Wallin’s spending flagged more than $121,000 in inappropriate expenses and called for further review of nearly $21,000 in additional claims. The RCMP has been called in to investigate.
Wall says he was surprised and disappointed to hear the dollar amount.
“On the face of it, the information that’s there, absolutely there’s disappointment. We’ll have to see how it all works out,” Wall said Tuesday at the legislature.
“You know, I think all of us in public life, we need to be very careful with these sorts of things. Obviously we’re not spending our money. We’re spending someone else’s money — the people for whom we work — and we need to err on the side of caution. It doesn’t seem like that happened in this case.
“Again, we won’t know all the details, not all the process is out, but there are a lot of details out, and I think it’s just a reminder for the rest of us that this is someone else’s money that we’re using to try to carry out our duties and we need to be stewards of that.”
Conservative fundraisers, a short hop to catch a flight to the sunny Caribbean and awards galas are just some of the expenses Wallin billed to taxpayers as Senate business.
The former broadcaster has called the audit into her travel claims “fundamentally flawed and unfair.”
She has repaid $38,000 and has said she will pay back other disallowed expenses with interest.
Members of the Senate committee that reviewed the audit said Wallin’s ability to travel on the taxpayers’ dime will be restricted for at least the next 12 months. They also said they would keep a close eye on her future claims.
Wall said he has not spoken to Wallin, who is from Wadena and has held a membership in the Saskatchewan Party. The senator has spoken at party events in the past, but the premier couldn’t say what her role might be going forward.
“There was a few occasions when there was an involvement there. I don’t think it’s been a very active relationship. I don’t see where it would go in the future frankly. We won’t have a lot of events coming up where the request would go out anyway.”
The premier used to advocate for Senate reform, but changed his mind this spring. He says he’s come to believe reform is impossible and the upper chamber should be abolished.
A resolution on getting rid of the upper house was defeated in a split decision at the party’s convention last November. But Wall said in May that only about 250 people voted at the convention and that the recent expense scandal prompted some to ask that the issue be revisited.