The audits on Senators Duffy, Brazeau and Harb came out yesterday and found against all three, and while Duffy had pre-emptively repaid all of his expenses, Harb was ordered to pay some $51,482 and Brazeau some $48,744 (both figures include interest). No word on Brazeau’s reaction but Harb is not going down quietly. While he did resign from the Liberal caucus, he has also retained a very prominent lawyer to represent him as he challenges the findings. Because part of the audit also found that there was ambiguity in the rules, and those ambiguities are were Harb really fell into. There was also news that Senator Duffy had improperly charged per diems while he was in Florida on vacation – but he blamed that on a temporary assistant while his usual one was on maternity leave, and that he repaid those expenses immediately upon finding out the error. Meanwhile, the Liberal Senate leader, James Cowan, has said he does want to see if these results can be turned over to the RCMP, the Senate has also adopted new rules that spells the end of the “honour system” that the Senate previously operated under. The Senators that I’ve spoken to have no problem with this, but this isn’t over yet. Susan Delacourt muses about the public reaction to misspending rather than egregious behaviour like these three senators’ entitlements, lying to the House or contempt of parliament, and what kind of signal that sends.
It was also “March for Life” day on the Hill yesterday, with the usual retinue of Catholic high school students bussed in from around the region and overestimated crowd figures, but a couple of interesting things happened. For one, the focus has shifted to the “gendercide” of girls, which attempts to dress the movement up as one of human rights. There were also no Liberal MPs to address the crowd, which is unusual because there are still a couple of pro-lifers in the caucus. When he addressed the crowd, Conservative MP Rob Anders urged the supporters to get their friends to help stack nomination meetings as the next election will feature open nominations, and they not only want to protect the pro-life MPs already in caucus, but add to them. And Mark Warawa stood in the House outside of the list and made his statement about “gendercide,” and was apparently taken to the whip’s office and bollocked for it afterward. But he won his little battle with the whip’s list, and life on the Hill got a lot more interesting as a result. Michael Den Tandt writes about the growing chasm in the caucus between the social conservatives and the “libertarian wing” and how Harper will need to patch that up before the next election.
Maclean’s got a copy of the allegations that the federal government has been making against Adil Charkaoui, one of the people who had been living under a security certificate until it was struck down by the Supreme Court. The allegations are that he was a sleeper agent and was known to be associates with some high profile terrorists and had attempted al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. It’s interesting reading, regardless.
Jonathan Kay writes an interesting piece about how urban-bound Aboriginals are a greater concern for integration than immigrants – using data from the census National Household Survey – and argues that we need to put more resources into ensuring that their acclimatisation process is less perilous than it currently is.
A quick reminder that it cost us more to get less reliable data from the National Household Survey instead of using the mandatory long-form census. BRILLIANT PUBLIC POLICY MOVE!
The attempts by the CBC to get answers on just why it costs so much for the design phase of the Arctic offshore patrol ships is verging on the point of farce, as Chris Alexander claims figures were given that weren’t and deadlines for the provision of said figures continue to pass without word. But remember – this is “the most open and transparent government in history!”
The Canada Revenue Agency is playing catch-up as it asks the US, UK and Australia for access to their data on offshore tax havens, which appears to be from the same leak as that which was given to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
It looks like a deal has been struck to allow scientists to continue their research at the Experimental Lakes Area this summer as it gets transferred from federal hands to a new consortium with the assistance of Ontario.
Stephen Harper will be in Winnipeg today at a cyberbullying forum, where he will meet with the parents of Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons.
And shameless self-promotion alert: I was on CTV News Channel yesterday afternoon to discuss the Senate audit.