Despite two weeks of debate and impassioned pleas by Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau, their colleagues have voted in favour of a motion to suspend them from the red chamber for claiming inappropriate expenses.
The vote to suspend, which happened on Tuesday afternoon, means that the three Senators will go without pay, but with benefits, for two years without pay.
The vote tally was as follows:
Motion to suspend Mike Duffy: For: 52; Against: 28; Abstentions: 11
Motion to suspend Pamela Wallin: For: 52; Against: 27; Abstentions: 12
Motion to suspend Patrick Brazeau: For: 50; Against: 29; Abstentions: 13
Several senators from both parties abstained from voting. Liberals senators did at the suggestion of leader Justin Trudeau, who didn't want to be seen as condoning the alleged misspending.
After the vote, Brazeau left without speaking to media. An emotional Pamela Wallin made a brief statement on her way out of the chamber.
"I think it's a extremely sad day for democracy if we can't expect the rule of the law in Canada then where on Earth can we expect it," she said.
Duffy was not on Parliament Hill; he was preparing for a heart procedure on Friday.
More Senate coverage:
Full coverage: Canada's Senate scandal
The suspensions come despite all three Senators claiming they did nothing wrong.
During the course of the debate, Duffy told his colleagues that senior officials in the PMO and Conservative leadership in the Senate approved his housing allowance. He also alleged that the PMO concocted the plan to have Nigel Wright — the prime minister's former chief of staff — give him money to repay his expense claims and forced him to cooperate under threat of expulsion.
Wallin argued that her suspension motion was based on retroactive rules and implied that the whole episode was due to a personal vendetta against her.
And in an emotional speech, Monday, Brazeau left a heartfelt message on the Senate record for his young children.
"It is very important that you know that I am not a thief, a scammer, a drunken Indian, a drug addict, a failed experiment or a human tragedy," Brazeau said.
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For his part, Prime Minister Harper was pleased with the outcome of Tuesday's vote.
"Removing these three senators from the public payroll was the right thing to do," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.
"They should not be collecting a public paycheque."
Harper may have been successful in getting rid of the 'problem Senators' but his 'Senate problem' still exists.
In the House of Commons, the opposition parties continue to hammer away at the PM about what he knew about the $90,000 from Nigel Wright to repay Duffy's inappropriate expense claims.
There are also ongoing RCMP investigations into the financial dealings of each of the three Conservative senators. Unfortunately for the Tories, the investigations led to regular correspondence and court filings that have already further implicated Conservative operatives and even the PMO.
On Monday evening, for example, CBC News reported that the "RCMP are looking for a chain of emails and documents that support Mike Duffy's allegations the Senate expenses scandal reaches into the Prime Minister's Office." According to CBC News:
The Nov. 1 letter by Supt. Biage Carrese from the RCMP National Division was obtained by CBC News on Monday and subsequently released publicly by Duffy on Tuesday.
Of particular interest to the Mounties are Duffy's allegations in the Senate last week that his initial story about repaying his disputed expenses by taking out an RBC loan was fabricated by senior advisers to the prime minister.
After the investigations — if charges are laid — court cases would presumably ensue in which senior officials of the PMO could be required to testify under oath.
Earlier this year, Yahoo Canada News spoke to several attorneys with regard to the possible timing of court cases. Our experts suggested that the court proceedings would be scheduled within 12 to 18 months of charges being laid.
And finally, the Auditor General will be reviewing the expenses of all the senators — it would be naive to believe that only these three senators made inappropriate expense claims — either deliberately or in error.
This is a scandal that isn't going anyway anytime soon.
(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)
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