Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Senators, MPs Need to Be Watched

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Senators, MPs Need to Be Watched

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Senators, MPs need to be watched

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An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published June 9:

Before members of Parliament get on their high horse -- that's you in particular, Tom Mulcair -- to criticize the Senate as a soiled institution that needs a change in diapers, they should take a look at the dirt in their own stable first.

And the suggestion the Senate should be abolished because many of its members abused their spending privileges is absurd. No one is talking about eliminating the House of Commons because of spending abuses there. That's not the way it works.

As auditor general Michael Ferguson says in his damning report on Senate expenses, Canada's red-faced chamber needs a major overhaul in the way its members manage and spend their money. There must be clear rules monitored and audited by an independent body.

The Senate might be an anachronistic institution that has lost the respect and trust of the people, but its future is a question for another day. For now, the priority is finding a way to ensure the politicians will behave.

That is the only way public trust can be restored, assuming it has not vanished for good.

Too many of the senators who got caught in Mr. Ferguson's web have wiggled and squirmed and pretended if mistakes were made, they were honest ones. The rules weren't clear, they say.

Everyone knew what was going on; nothing was hidden; money, in some cases, will be repaid, even if nothing improper was done, and on and on.

In the case of one former senator, the auditors could not even determine if all his expenses were for parliamentary business. They did find nearly $50,000 in spending that had nothing to do with Senate business, including personal travel with his wife. Like most of the other senators under scrutiny, he protested his innocence and denied any wilful wrongdoing.

The various excuses and equivocations might have worked if proper auditing functions had been in place at the start. …

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