Another day, another Senate controversy.
Last week, Senate officials confirmed that they have asked Deloitte to review the primary residency claims of senators Mike Duffy (Con), Patrick Brazeau (Ind) and Mac Harb (Lib).
[ Related: Will the Senate be an election issue in 2015? ]
It looks like we can add Conservative Senator Pamela Wallin to that list.
In an email exchange with CTV News, Wallin admitted that she has also been questioned by Deloitte auditors about her travel expenses. The report notes that Wallin has claimed $321,037 in 'other travel' and $29,423 on flights from Ottawa to her home province of Saskatchewan since September 2010.
"I certainly did willingly meet with a representative from Deloitte to review travel expenses and I answered all questions and have provided all the necessary information regarding claims," she wrote.
"No offer of repayment was made or asked for. I spent 168 days in Saskatchewan last year and most of my travel was to my home province."
Wallin also defended her costs in an op-ed published in the Globe and Mail stating that her primary residence is in Wadena, Saskatchewan which is "a 21/2-hour drive from the airport in either Saskatoon or Regina."
The Senate’s policy [on travel] is not based on dollar amounts – although dollar amounts are what are reported – so senators who live in the West or the North have higher bills than those who commute to Montreal or Toronto. The system is based on annual travel points per senator, so we are all treated equally – we have the same number of flights, regardless of distance. And I have never exceeded my designated points. If I did, I’d be on the hook for any costs.
A source, however, told CTV that 70 per cent of her travel expense were for tickets from Ottawa to Toronto, where Wallin owns a condo.
In an interview with Yahoo! Canada News in November, Wallin said that she does travel a lot within Saskatchewan.
It's also no secret that senators — of both Conservative and Liberal stripes — sometimes use their senate travel budgets to simply attend party fundraisers.
Could that be the case here?
Whatever the case, it seems appropriate that Canadians ask for and receive a detailed accounting of the $350,000 in travel expenses that Senator Wallin 'expensed' in a period of just over 2 years.
(Photo courtesy of The Canadian Press)
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