My Response: Senate Expense Scandal
“Thank you for writing to express your displeasure at the Senate expense scandal and to demand that the Conservatives come clean about the cover-up by the Prime Minister’s Office.
There are still many questions left unanswered, but at the heart of this story is the fact that the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff secretly paid a parliamentarian $90,000 for what appears to be a plan to obstruct an audit. Canadians are justifiably outraged over the abuse of public money, secret deals between the Prime Minister’s Office and Mike Duffy, and the whitewashing of an official Senate report on illegitimate expenses. The public outcry over the past several weeks has brought much needed attention to the lack of transparency and accountability in the Prime Minister’s Office, and to the fundamental need for Senate reform in Canada.
Liberals have long been in favour of reforming the Senate. I gave a speech on a Senate reform bill back in February 2012 (available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAFukxoPucU). As a result of Liberal pressure, the Conservative government finally referred this matter to the Supreme Court on February 1, 2013 so that Canada’s highest court can say how the significant proposed changes to the upper chamber may be effected while respecting the Constitution. In the meantime, making the Senate more transparent and more accountable to Canadians is a priority for the Liberal Party, but any major changes must follow the rules set out in our Constitution and, importantly, include consultation with the provinces.
[The Supreme Court of Canada is expected to hear arguments give its opinion over the coming year. All the provinces have asked to speak to the court on this matter.]
I believe that this issue is bigger than Nigel Wright, Senator Mike Duffy, or Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Canadians need to have their faith restored in our parliamentary institutions and be able to expect ethical conduct from all parliamentarians.
Thank you again for writing,