Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: The Senate Still Resists Being Held Accountable for Its Spending

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: The Senate Still Resists Being Held Accountable for Its Spending

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: The Senate still resists being held accountable for its spending

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published April 29:

Like a junkie on the prowl for the next fix, Canada's discredited Senate can't seem to get enough of the secrecy it craves -- to avoid being held accountable for how its cosseted members spend $100 million in taxpayers' dollars.

By now, Canadians might have expected that the 105 unelected denizens of the Red Chamber would have learned that a little more transparency and accountability is in order, if only to shore up their fractured credibility. They badly need to throw open the windows, to let the public see how they operate on its dime. The institution's integrity hangs in the balance.

Senators are awaiting Auditor General Michael Ferguson's audit report on their expenses with something approaching dread. A damning report would heap yet more public opprobrium on an institution that already is widely reviled.

Conservative senator Mike Duffy, meanwhile, is on trial for fraud, breach of trust and bribery in a case that calls into question Prime Minister Stephen Harper's political judgment. Fellow Conservative Patrick Brazeau and Liberal Mac Harb both face fraud charges. And Conservative Pamela Wallin is under police investigation. All in connection with an expenses scandal that saw the three suspended Conservatives and the Liberal (who has resigned) make more than $500,000 in improper expense claims, most of which they have repaid.

So what's the Senate's reaction to this mortifying cavalcade? A little shamefaced transparency? A bit of grudging accountability? Dream on.

As the Star's Tonda MacCharles and Joanna Smith report, the Senate seems intent on cloaking its dubious behaviour in yet more secrecy.

Exhibit A: The Senate intends to invoke "parliamentary privilege" to prevent an internal review it ordered of senators' claims of primary and secondary residences, and the proof they gave to support the claims, from being introduced at Duffy's trial, MacCharles reports. …

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