One month in the high-flying life of Pamela Wallin

In June 2009, the senator charged taxpayers $11,835.73 in travel expenses. Nick Taylor-Vaisey tracks her flight patterns.

by Nick Taylor-Vaisey

Tom Hanson/CP

While her parliamentary colleagues passed 18 bills into law during a frenzied rush to summer in June 2009, Sen. Pamela Wallin, the former TV anchor now embroiled in scandal over improper expense claims, spent much of that month in the skies.

The details of Wallin’s furious travel schedule that time period fill just three of the 95 pages of the Deloitte audit submitted to the Senate, but they raise serious questions about how she claimed to spend her time as a senator.

Consider the four days starting June 8, during which Wallin’s schedule took her back and forth between Ottawa and Toronto four times at a cost of $2,870.55. (Incidentally, that’s despite the fact that senators, their spouses and children all receive free travel on Via Rail, including upgrades to business class.)

Her office told auditors that, while in Toronto, Wallin participated in two meetings on Senate business—one with a World Bank official, the other with a New York-based marketing firm. A Deloitte audit found no evidence those meetings occurred, but did discover Wallin attended a University of Guelph convocation ceremony in her capacity as the school’s chancellor. Deloitte said Wallin should pay back almost every penny she claimed on that trip.

Within days, she was back in the air on another round trip between Toronto and Ottawa, and then, later in the month, the senator travelled to Calgary on private business, and eventually to Saskatoon and Wadena, Sask., where she maintains her primary residence. In Saskatoon, Wallin rented a car for 11 days and billed the Senate.

In total, Wallin initially claimed $11,835.73 in travel expenses for June 2009, of which Deloitte determined she must pay back $8,223.68. So far, the senator has reimbursed less than one-third that amount.

If that month had marked the end of Wallin’s questionable expense-account claims, she might not be facing an RCMP investigation today. But the Deloitte audit is filled with such examples. In 2011, for instance, Wallin billed taxpayers for four flights between Ottawa and Toronto over a three-day stretch starting on Halloween. Her claims added up to a whopping $4,414.11. Of that, Deloitte said she should repay roughly $3,070, which she did in February.

Over nearly four years, Wallin dinged taxpayers for $532,508 in travel. The eagle-eyed Deloitte auditors, who pored over every receipt, calendar and claim they could find, calculated more than $121,000 in improperly claimed expenses. The vast majority of the time, they found Wallin had conducted private business, not Senate business, while on her trips. Often, auditors simply found no proof Wallin had attended meetings she’d claimed were legitimate business. Wallin, who claims the audit was “fundamentally flawed and unfair,” paid back $38,369.




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One month in the high-flying life of Pamela Wallin

  1. Now that I have read the article I am not sure I wanted to know the details. I feel ill. I suppose it is too much to ask someone with such low regard for honesty to do the honourable thing and resign.

    • Yes, Charlie it is too much to ask. Just hope we can get her out somehow.

    • i am afraid it is too much to ask. too bad we don’t have the power to fire her and all of the others. i hate that these loafers have pensions for life, after doing next to nothing and stealing from the public purse, when a lot of hard working people have no pensions at all.

    • They don’t know the meaning of the word ‘honourable’…such a feeling of entitlement, with no shame at all.

    • Honorable? That word does not apply to her. If there is enough public outcry or if she if forced to resign, she will resign and make up an excuse so as not to lose face. Or they may just give her another job within the Senate so that she can continue to receive a high salary and get to fleece the public some more. With these types of leech, they always have their cake and eat it too!

  2. HOW SAD THAT THESE SO CALLED DO – GOODERS ARE MORE INTERESTED TO
    LINE THEIR POCKETS OR ENJOY THEIR LIVES AT THE EXPENSE OF THE HARDWORKING HALF STARVED TAXPAYERS AND CANADIANS?????
    DO THESE PEOPLE EVER THINK OF OTHERS AT ALL?????

    • ‘Half starved taxpayers’? Doooo be serious.

      • A lot of folks labour pretty darn hard for those dollars they have to cough up in taxes so that these fancy pants can trollop around with nary a regard for thrift.

        • No one likes Senators or MPs wasting money or defrauding the public….but James got carried away.

          • Are you Pamela’s sister?

          • LOL There are no ‘half-starved taxpayers’.

          • Of course there are half-starved taxpayers. Even starving ones when they let the kids eat and there’s no food left for them.

      • It is true. Many living in poverty line or below have to pay income tax and help fund $40 billion in hidden taxes on food, cloths and the inflated prices over taxation causes throughout society. Income tax kicks in not at poverty level, but at an amount less than half of that. Then you have city, provincial property taxes, even if you rent it is in there.

        It is literally true that we do tax many poor, working taxed poor so many idle whiners can live well…. But disabled get less than 1/2 poverty…..as our social system isn’t just a ruse, its a flipping mess of corruption and waste.

        • So run for office and fix it.

    • No need to shout but yeah running expenses of about $300 a day has to be unimaginable to a lot of Canadians.

      • Actually, her expenses were more than that, the waste was $300 over 3-5 years.

        Her expenses of travel, housing, pension, secretaries and assistants as well as office space costs is far in excess of $300/day.

      • A lot of Canadians only work part-time and some don’t even make $300 a week before taxes are deducted.

  3. Did she become this shady after being appointed to the senate or was she always working the angles. Makes me wander how honestly she reported news stories in her previous job.

    • Probably honestly, but journalism is really low paid. If you ever want coverage of anything, offer free wine and hors d’ouvres — they’ll descend like buzzards! So if one is living that life, and is both resentful and ambitious, when they move to the next level they milk it for all they’re worth. In short: she was probably an honest newsperson, and almost certainly a criminal Senator.

      • I don’t think it is low paying at the level Wallin and Duffy were at. They were national news people. Certainly the people working at weekly newspapers aren’t making much but come on, those two were doing all right. I believe it is easy to fall into that situation where you don’t feel accountable because the organization is so big that you don’t think about where the money is coming from. You feel entitled to you entitlements. After all, you don’t really have a boss that you are ripping off. When it comes to government, there is so much waste anyway….your little bit of excess seems like nothing.
        It doesn’t help that these senators have a guaranteed job until they are 75.

    • The internal auditors at the CBC should be asking themselves this question.

      • Someday they will. As G8 debt fraud economics fails the economy, and it make take 1 or 10 years….at some point the government is going to worry more about government than CBC. And trust me when I say government unions will not save CBC the cuts if it costs them anything.

    • Doesn’t matter whether or not she was a big spender before or after her appointment. It’s just very tempting for some people when they realize that ‘finally’ they get to spend other peoples’ money and not have to pay back. This news about her is made public and this is her reality. Thank God for auditing, and forcing her to pay back. She is relentless in over billing the public purse and will continue to do so, based on her history of lying and over spending her budget. Anyone else who does this would be called a thief. For her, this is a ‘mistake.’

  4. So, Wallin admits there is money improperly received, but
    she disputes the amount that Deloitte has calculated. Further, she has
    pledged to repay the amount once a correct figure has been determined.
    This has been her position all along.

    She thinks the Senate is a soapbox for issues and causes
    that interest her. This has caused her to travel just about anywhere to
    make a speech. Somebody needs to take her aside and straighten her out.

    She is an appointed member of the Senate, not an elected
    member of Parliament. She shouldn’t be travelling anywhere to give a
    speech in support of government policy or legislation; there are elected
    government ministers available to do that function.

    Her perception of her role in the Senate is wrong. Her role
    is the examination and review of legislation proposed by Parliament.
    It’s a desk job. Lots of committee meetings. That’s it. Senators, as
    appointed public servants in an independent body, are administrators
    whose task is the review of legislation in the interest of the country,
    not any political party, or any special interest group.

    But it isn’t surprising. Harper appointed rookies that he
    ought to have known would be largely hopeless. His appointees had no
    government experience. He is responsible for this mess as much as
    individual senators.

    The PM has the power to appoint senators. That is a good
    thing, but common sense would suggest that he shouldn’t need to be told
    to choose individuals who understand government and possess some
    experience in it.

    • Well said.

    • Hmm, I actually think the PM should give up the power to appoint, or at least have to select from a group of potential appointees selected in the province the senator will represent. It’s harper’s inability to choose appropriate senators that’s a big part of the problem — well, that and the fact he wanted to use them to fundraise, so he’s the one who is actually despoiling the Senate.

      And I actually prefer senators who don’t have government experience — these aren’t bureaucrats running programs: they should be highly successful, not necessarily visibly so, in whatever field they come from — they should be people who can inspire other Canadians.

      And with all due respect to Wallin (ie no respect at all) — all senators should be activist senators. They are appointed to be active, not just collect payments and visit their mothers back home on our dime.

      • Perhaps what should happen is that every party including the green party should put forth representatives from all provinces who would make good candidates. Then the representatives could be vetted by a bipartisan committee. Once the vetting is done, they put the names in a hat and pull them out. It would take things out of the hands of the PM and would make for a much more diverse group in the senate.

    • He appointed people who could raise funds through their public high profiles — Duffy and Wallin — i.e. it was Harper’s obvious intent for them to raise campaign funds while on “Senate business”. He simply chose the biggest partisan faces he could find (and honestly you can’t find a bigger face than Duffy’s! It’s like the box a face came in…)

    • In short she has admitted to being a crook and is now arguing about how big a crook. Please resign Pamela.

      • well said.

      • If you or I used someon else’s funds….we’d be charged with criminal fraud. THAT is what should happen to Duffy and Wallin (&Harb)

      • Yeah, right. There is no shame now. That is long gone.

    • Well said. She went about doing everything her own way and did not ask if it was ok or not. Now she is upset that she has to pay a lot of it back. She did need guidance yes but at the same time she was responsible to ask more questions ahead of time. Her attitude of free reign was not appropriate. A bit if self inflicted head in the sand, well meaning or not.

  5. The Via Rail corridor from Montreal – Ottawa – Toronto is really lovely, scenic, and the cars have full WiFi so you can work too. There should be no air travel expenses there.

    My view is that all public servants and politicians should have to use public transport in their riding, and take the train or fly economy class; and that they should all use ONLY free public Health Care, in their riding. You’d be amazed how fast these things would improve!

    • “My view is that all public servants and politicians should have to use public transport in their riding…”

      H-mmm…I’m gonna’ play a hunch here and bet you don’t live in a riding that looks like, say, Parry Sound District.

      • Well then in that case, they can fly, but still economy unless they’re too large to fit into those seats, then business class. They can try harder to cut costs, especially if they’re not paying for it.

        • Nope again. No commercial air links and large rural ridings with sparse populations. Even in much of the near North, private plane is the only practical option.

          You are familiar with Canadian geography…aren’t you?

    • Flying by economy is enough for them, unless they’re too large to fit into economy and they need to fly business class. They should be made to take Via Rail whenever possible.

  6. Obviously the present method of choosing Senators is flawed . Why not select Senators as juries are , from the voter’s list . 4 or 6 Senators from each province with 2 or 3 Senators from each territory . The terms would be of 6 years with a 2 term limit . Every 6 years half of all Senators would be replaced thereby having continuity and renewal , Having a “selected Senate” would save the cost of elections and the “selected Senators ” would not have to follow party discipline. Those having a criminal record and those belonging to a political party would be exempt from becoming a “selected Senator” thus removing partisan politics from the Senate. If there is an elected Senate it would be identical to the way it is now with partisanship of the highest importance.

  7. It has often been said .. you get what you pay for … Although that may be true in the real world it certainly doesn’t appear to be the case when it comes to politicians .. we the people are paying for ” executive class politicians ” and yet we seem to be stuck with
    ” economy class politicians ” . That is why I would like to see a ” selected Senate ” .. should not we the people of this great country not get a chance to serve , leave politics out of the Senate .. demand a “selected Senate “

  8. Get rid of the money wasting senate already . . . . . partisan appointments for life in no way reflect the wants and needs of the average Canadian.

  9. I read her autobiography once – did not know what I was getting myself into. The book is in the trash now where it belongs. Here we are struggling for every penny and not traveling much due to the high cost while she laughs all the way to the bank… vive le CANADA with people like that in high places.

    • Some Canadians skip hospital appointments because they can’t afford to pay for parking at the hospital, and here she is making personal visits and conducting private business at the public’s expense. Shame on her, but she feels no shame. We need to spend more money on those who need it, and for more self-help programs for ordinary Canadians.

  10. Another failure to be added to the Harper Government.

    • That’s a stupid comment….do you seriously think Mr. Harper would have appointed these people if he had ANY inkling that they would be crooks. Stop blaming other people for their actions. THEY alone are responsible for stealing money and I have no doubt every senator in the senate is doing the same thing.

  11. Don’t forget Wallen’s roots as a NDP Waffle. Other peoples money is for free!

  12. Best solution is to eliminate the senate. So simple even Ottawa might get it right.

  13. tell me again why we can’t get rid of the senate.

    • Senators cannot be fired unless they have a criminal record, that is the only way to get rid of them. Seems an easy solution…charge them with theft/fraud then kick them out on their fat asses.

  14. She’s got a face I’d love to slap…..greedy cow.

  15. Have her resign but she still gets to live on the kind of pension that a lot of tax payers don’t even make in a year. She still ahead of many of us. She should be made to pay back, no reimbursed. And make her travel by Via Rail.

  16. I am sorry, But Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy should both be charged, and to think that both of them are still inline for a great retirement package from the government, as I said before if this was in private life the employee would be long gone, what make these senators so special. Have you heard the tune Hands in my pocket that the senators. An to think she can travel first class on Via Rail free. Then the government wonder why some Canadian cheat on taxes? maybe they should look at the doors steps in Ottawa.

  17. My goodness people, you have to try to understand how difficult it is to go through life when you are better than average citizens. Imagine someone of Wallin’s stature being forced to wipe her own bum. That’s just plain obscene. Senators should always have an entourage of lackies to fawn over their every whim. And those blue collar salaries they have to scrimp by on; Imagine having caviar only on weekends… FOR SHAME!

    Take away all their ill gotten perks and throw them in maximum security federal prison for 6 months. Every last one of them. Teach them some respect.

    When they get out, drag them across the country on an open air rail car so the Canadian public can throw rotten fruit and whale blubber sandwiches at them. The lineups in each town will be deep but well worth the wait. Somebody bring some eggs too…. can’t forget the eggs!

  18. This old bag has fleeced us the taxpayer long enough. She is a thief, a dishonest old bag and we want our money back NOW!!!!!!!!!

  19. Resignation is the most important word e.

  20. Pamela is flying high at the taxpayers expense. She is one of Harper’s best
    friends. Check his accounts. He is never home. Maybe he owes the taxpers also.

  21. Definiton of Honourable …. esteem, hold a position with …..accept and
    pay when due……who are we talking about here? Sure is not Pamela, or
    others.

  22. If that was any of us they call it ” Fraud, and we would be sitting for a while in Kingston.
    These cheaters if found guilty should spend 3 months in jail, Resign, and forfeit up to 40% of their very lucrative pension.
    Nobody would do it again.

  23. who in the accounts payable office let this get through. i had an expense account for thirty years and the guy in charge was always diligent in his duty. if he thought he should question a charge he did and i didnot take it personally. if theses persons are certified accounts they also should also be disaplined by their professional associations

  24. They are given so much by us ‘for life’ and yet they still abuse the system – makes me sick that she only gets a slap on the wrist.

  25. worse than the expense claims is the refusal to take any responsibility by saying it is a mistake, our common criminals cannot use that as an excuse, she has a false image and the sad thing is many people are impressed with phonies like her

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