Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Senators, Start to Fly Right -- or Crash

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Senators, Start to Fly Right -- or Crash

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Senators, start to fly right -- or crash

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An editorial from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, published June 11:

In an examination of Senate expense claims released on Tuesday, Auditor General Michael Ferguson pointed to three Nova Scotians -- Liberal senators Terry Mercer and Jim Cowan and retired Conservative senator Don Oliver -- whose expenditures were questionable.

Particularly concerning is the referral of suspect expenses from nine current or former senators, including those of Mr. Oliver, to the RCMP for investigation.

The nation's top auditor says Mr. Oliver has not provided information the office has requested. Mr. Oliver reports that his electronic calendar didn't accurately reflect his activities and accuses Mr. Ferguson of misrepresenting "what the Auditor knows based on the Senator's previous and patient explanations...."

In the report, Mr. Oliver chastises the AG for, among other things, making "scurrilous and irrelevant comments about the employment of (my) wife," referring to some of Mrs. Oliver's travels to and from Nova Scotia. She was often unaccompanied by the senator and the AG ruled that the billing of such travel to the Senate violated a family reunification requirement.

Despite Mr. Oliver's combative tone, he has repaid more than $23,000 of the $48,000 in expenses in dispute.

Sen. Terry Mercer arrived in the Senate after long experience in the non-profit sector, where strapped NGOs typically have strict rules on reimbursement because they can't afford not to. He argues he didn't break any rules and no one called him to account for overspending of $29,000. …

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