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Wallin’s Senate expenses audit to be released next week

Conservative Senator Pamela Wallin in Ottawa February 25, 2013.


An independent audit into expense claims filed by Senator Pamela Wallin is complete and will be made public Tuesday.

Sources have said that she came under scrutiny partly because only a small proportion of her flights involved trips to Saskatchewan, the province she represents in the Senate. Ms. Wallin has said she often travels to Toronto and then continues on to Saskatchewan later.

The Saskatchewan politician is one of three Stephen Harper appointees to the Senate whose claims for reimbursement from taxpayers have come under heavy scrutiny and engulfed the Red Chamber in a crisis of legitimacy.

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A Jean Chrétien appointee, Senator Mac Harb, has also found himself fighting allegations of improper claims. The RCMP are already looking into Mr. Harb's questionable housing claims, but new information could land him in more hot water.

Brian Karam, an Ottawa lawyer who has for years done business with the federal government, was behind a $55,000 loan to Mr. Harb, documents obtained by The Canadian Press indicate.

The Criminal Code states that government officials cannot accept an "advantage or benefit" of money from someone who deals with the federal government without first getting written permission.

The Senate won't say if Mr. Harb sought or was granted the required permission before accepting the loan; neither he nor Mr. Karam have responded to requests for comment.

The RCMP was keeping tight-lipped. "We're not in a position to comment on the matter," spokeswoman Corporal Lucy Shorey wrote in an e-mail Wednesday.

The independent Deloitte audit on Ms. Wallin has been received by the Senate and is being translated into French before being shipped to a steering group that heads the Red Chamber's internal economy committee.

The committee will meet to review the report on Aug. 12, and receive a briefing from Deloitte, before making it public on the afternoon of Aug. 13.

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Gerald Comeau, a Conservative senator from Nova Scotia appointed by Brian Mulroney, leads the Senate committee overseeing the audit into Ms. Wallin's expenses. The other members are Carolyn Stewart Olsen, a Conservative who once served as Prime Minister Stephen Harper's press secretary, and George Furey, a Liberal.

Mr. Comeau said he hasn't read the Deloitte audit yet and won't until Monday. He said the audit period goes back to when Ms. Wallin was appointed to the Senate in January of 2009.

He said the internal economy committee will draw up its own report making recommendations to the Senate regarding what it recommends the Red Chamber do as a result of the audit.

Ms. Wallin has repaid $38,000 in expenses since the audit began.

"Depending on what's in the report, she may need to repay more," Mr. Comeau said.

Sources have told The Globe and Mail Ms. Wallin could be required to repay another $20,000.

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Since September, 2010, records show, Ms. Wallin has charged $375,000 in travel expenses, most of which was categorized as "other travel," or trips not directly between Ottawa and her home province of Saskatchewan.

In a June interview with the CBC, Ms. Wallin said the focus of her audit is flights she booked.

She acknowledged during the interview that she "made mistakes" in her paperwork.

"There's a lot of paperwork, particularly in government, every time you move, every time you go anywhere. Sort of more paperwork than is humanly possible to keep on top of. So I made mistakes," she said at the time.

With a report from The Canadian Press

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More


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