Marjory LeBreton, the Conservative government’s Senate leader, called for an audit of Senate expenses June 3, two weeks after the Mike Duffy expense scandal broke. After asking for unanimous consent, LeBreton encountered resistance from Liberal and Independent senators. The audit will examine claimed expenses by members of the Senate.
The expenses scandal has placed the Conservative government in an awkward position, as they are usually the ones pointing the finger at government overspending. On May 9, the Senate released a report of the audit of four senators, which revealed large amounts of improperly claimed expenses. What took the scandal to the next level was the revelation that Prime Minister Harper’s Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright, secretly gave Duffy $90,000 to repay his ineligible claims.
Since then, Wright resigned his position, Conservative party officials have been hounded in the House of Commons and the RCMP has opened an investigation. The Prime Minister eluded reporters throughout the week as the scandal grew when emails between Duffy and a Conservative strategist about how he should be rewarded for his, as he put it, “expanded role with the party.”
Senate ethics officer Lyse Ricard suspended her scrutiny into the $90,000 payment as she awaits the outcome of the RCMP investigations. There is no telling what will come from this scandal but there is a growing appetite for Senate reform.