“I’m not a cheat, I’m not a thief, and I don’t break the rules.” – from Senator Mike Duffy’s testimony in an Ottawa court, December 2015
A Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted July 18th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
Mike Duffy – the federal Conservative Party-appointed Senator thrown under the bus a few years back for allegedly going at the benefits package for the Red Chamber’s honourable members like an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord – is right in his recent refusal to pay back $17,000 government administrators claim he owes for expenses he billed the Senate.
On what legal grounds should he?
As one of Duffy’s lawyers, Donald Bayne, was quoted saying in a July 16th story in The Globe and Mail, the Senate has no legal right to pursue him in the wake of a federal court Justice’s decision earlier this year to exonerate him.
“The ruling is a final legal and factual determination that cannot be collaterally attacked,” the lawyer stated.
Further to that, I can’t think of any legal reason why Duffy should not be fully compensated for the more than $150,000 in senators’ pay and benefits he reportedly lost through the more than one year he was expelled from the Senate’s Red Chambers and put on trial.
Duffy should also have the roughly $90,000 he repaid to the federal government more than a year ago for expenses he previously billed paid back to him, and the same should go for any money owing in compensation to Senators Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin, whose charges of misusing their Senate expense accounts have recently been dropped after more than a year of putting them through what now appears to be totally groundless judicial hell and humiliation.
Finally, when the House of Commons reconvenes at the end of summer, one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first orders of business should be to call each and every Senator into the House of Commons, including Duffy, Brazeau and Wallin, and apologize to them on behalf of the Canadian people.
I am saying this even though I have always viewed the Senate, as it is presently constituted, as a medieval, undemocratic body that should be abolished or drastically reformed.
But I am obviously among a minority of Canadians who feel this way since the vast majority has expressed little or no outrage over the so-called expense scandals rocking the Senate over the past few years or over the many millions of tax dollars spent auditing other senators with expense claims that were extraordinarily high.
Nor does any idea of reforming or abolishing the Senate appear to be of interest to a majority of Canadians.
After all, Harper’s Conservatives were re-elected to government two or three times even though it did nothing to fulfill its promise to reform or abolish the Senate. And in last summer and fall’s federal election, the only mainstream party that made abolishing the Senate a feature of its platform – the NDP – lost its opposition party status and sank to third.
Canadians have a long history of loyalty to institutions rewarded with special privileges and entitlements – a history many remain loyal to given our continued embracing of the British monarch as Canada’s head of government.
So let’s pay out the compensation to those senators who, for whatever reason, were singled out for doing what the rules for that Red Chamber legally allow.
And let’s please stop wasting any more time and money on debates over reform or doing audits that go nowhere.
Even got other pressing issues in Canada we may be more willing to do something about.
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