Roundup: Pamela Wallin’s questionable claims

So, that was the audit report into Senator Pamela Wallin’s expenses – that she had a pattern of claims that were questionable even though she said that she was told they were acceptable (such as for attending functions at Guelph University, where she served as chancellor), that she had retroactively tried to change her calendar – supposedly on the advice of Senator Tkachuk, which he denied – and her belief that they applied rules retroactively is bunk. In fact, it’s addressed directly in the report that they didn’t, and there are even handy charts as to what rules were in place at what point, where they overlap, and so on. (That hasn’t stopped her few defenders, including Senator Hugh Segal, from trying to repeat this fiction in the hopes that it will become a truism). Oh, and Wallin spends most of her time in Toronto, for what it’s worth. It was enough that the Internal Economy committee has decided to forward this to the RCMP to let them sort out the discrepancies to see if there was anything untoward or deliberate, which now makes it all four embattled senators under RCMP scrutiny. Other Senators are taking exception to Wallin describing herself as a “different kind of Senator” who’s more “activist,” which let’s face it, is pretty self-aggrandising, given that most of them are active in their communities and in promoting causes. (I muse more about that here). PostMedia offers a primer on Senate expenses. And while some critics are (finally) pointing to the fact that this should affect the credibility of the Prime Minister given that three of the four are his appointees, it has been sadly pointed out that the focus remains on the Chamber itself and not the PM, which is a problem, as he is person who is supposed to be held to account.

And now the pundits’ reactions – Michael Den Tandt says that these revelations demand a deeper exploration of the relationship between political parties and public institutions and resources, John Ivision decries that politicians can no longer be counted upon to act honourably, Marni Soupcoff notes how these scandals point to Harper personally for his judgement in appointing them, and Tasha Kheiriddin has little patience for Wallin’s excuses.

While making a speech at a union convention in Chicago, Thomas Mulcair linked the Lac-Mégantic disaster to government deregulation. One wonders if he’ll recant this shortly, given that he previously linked the disaster to government cuts and immediately declared said that he didn’t (never mind that it was on tape). I also wasn’t aware that any conclusions had been reached from any of the investigations into the disaster. One wonders if the NDP has a precognitive branch in their research bureau that can tell him these future facts.

Chris Alexander has signalled that Canada’s refugee system will look favourably on Russian gay and lesbian refugee claimants, given the new repressive laws in that country.

Omar Khadr’s lawyer is now arguing that he is being held illegally in federal prison because the crimes he supposedly committed in Afghanistan were done as a minor, and that under the International Transfer of Offenders Act, Khadr should be held in a provincial facility. Our new public safety minister, Stephen Blaney, responded that the government would fight any attempt to free Khadr before his sentence is complete.

David McLaughlin diagnoses what went wrong with the PBO and the need to fix it – but seems to have understated the fundamental problem of opposition parties fobbing off their homework to the PBO and using his credibility as a neutral authority as a blunt instrument rather than their own research and policy tools.

Former Senator Raymond Lavigne is staying in prison for now, as the parole board couldn’t come to a unanimous decision about his status.

A division of SNC-Lavalin, which is under a ten-year ban on bidding for aid projects by the World Bank, got a government contract for Canadian troop support, seeing as the ban doesn’t apply to Public Works. And yes, the NDP are outraged by this.

Unhinged homophobic anti-feminist group REAL Women is digging in with regards to the controversy they started with attacking John Baird. Apparently they too don’t way the gays to get the death penalty, but they claim that the Russian and Ugandan laws aren’t persecution. Oh, and now they are being persecuted for these views – because playing the martyr card always works. Peter O’Neil recounts one of his previous run-ins with the group, and their disconnection from reality.

And Philippe Lagassé explains the concept of Crown Consent, and why it’s important.