Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Partisan Activities, Travel Part of a Senator's Job: Auditor General

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Partisan Activities, Travel Part of a Senator's Job: Auditor General

Article excerpt

Partisan activities part of Senate job: AG

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OTTAWA - The auditor general's report into Senate spending refers specifically to partisan activities as legitimate official business -- an argument that has been made by the defence in the trial of Sen. Mike Duffy.

Duffy had pleaded not guilty to 31 charges, including several that involve travel to Conservative party events which he in turn billed to the Senate.

The AG's report, a copy of which was viewed by The Canadian Press, provides definitions that were used as criteria by auditors who scrutinized the books of individual senators.

The definition of parliamentary functions reads, "Duties and activities related to the position of senators, wherever performed, and includes public and official business and partisan matters..."

Public business is defined as including "official business, representative business, partisan business and related travel, but does not include attending to one's private concerns."

The only areas specifically excluded are activities related to getting a person elected to the Commons, and to the private and personal business of a senator.

Duffy's participation in political events would often dovetail with personal visits he had also arranged.

Of the 30 senators who have been singled out as having questionable expenses in the auditor general's report, none appear to have been engaged in specifically partisan travel.

The contents of the auditor general's report will be closely examined by the players involved in Duffy's trial, as well as lawyers representing suspended senators Mac Harb, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau.

Duffy has pleaded not guilty to 31 charges of breach of trust, fraud, and breach of trust in relation to his Senate office, living and travel expenses.

His lawyer Donald Bayne has pointed to the Senate's own rules as justifying travel to partisan events. …

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