Senate reform needed to clean up ‘very disappointing’ transgressions

Many of you have contacted me following the Senate travel and expenses scandal involving four Senators

Many of you have contacted me following the Senate travel and expenses scandal involving four Senators, three from our Conservative caucus. I am very disappointed by these revelations. This looks like the “culture of entitlement” that we have been fighting against in successive elections.

I have consistently stood for accountability and safeguarding taxpayer funds, as has the Conservative party. Going forward, as your member of Parliament, I can assure you that our government will hold all senators to account.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed the national caucus saying, “We have worked hard, collectively as a party, as a caucus, and as a government, to dramatically strengthen accountability rules in Ottawa and to apply those standards to ourselves.

“I need not remind you, that in 2006, this government was first elected to clean up the Liberal sponsorship scandal, to ensure the rules are followed and to ensure there are consequences when they are not. Our Federal Accountability Act, the toughest accountability legislation in the history of this country, forever changed the way business is done in Ottawa. We have: strengthened the powers of the Auditor General; toughened the office of the ethics commissioner; reformed political party financing; dramatically tightened lobbying rules; and, beefed up auditing and accountability within government departments.”

The Hon. Marjory LeBreton, Leader of the Government in the Senate, announced tough new rules governing Senate travel and expenses proposed by Conservative senators. Forty-eight hours after unveiling them May 28, they were adopted by the Senate of Canada.

Included in the 11 new measures, we will: remove the presumption that a senator acts honourably with respect to expenses; clarify residency expense claims; require specific purposes for travel when claiming expenses; require mileage logs; mandatory taxi receipts; restrict per diems; reduce the travel-point system; restrict a senator’s designated traveller to a spouse or partner; require monthly reports on travel patterns; amend travel categories; and limit international travel.

Our government has been working on Senate reform since 2007 and has consistently introduced legislation to change the Senate. On Feb. 1, we launched a reference on Senate reform to the Supreme Court of Canada. We look forward to receiving the Supreme Court’s opinion on what specifically is required to reform the Senate and what is required to abolish the Senate.

The RCMP are now investigating and Senator LeBreton is calling for the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a comprehensive audit of Senate expenses. The government will continue to advocate for and push for Senate reform. We will continue to protect taxpayers from abuses of public trust.

— From the Hill

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