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Why an election call is good news for suspended senators

Duffy, Wallin, Brazeau Senate suspensions to end with dissolution of Parliament


 

Senator Duffy arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

OTTAWA — Three senators will see their suspensions without pay come to an abrupt end once an election is called, but only one will be get immediate, full access to perks and expenses.

The suspensions of Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau would end as soon as Prime Minister Stephen Harper asks for Parliament to be dissolved, setting off the federal election campaign.

Wallin would be entitled not only to her salary, but would also regain access to other perks, including her office budget and expenses.

She has faced allegations that she improperly charged the Senate for personal and partisan travel. The allegations contained in RCMP court documents have not been tested in court, nor has she been charged.

Brazeau faces two criminal charges as a result of his housing claims, while Duffy is charged with 31 counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery. His trial is set to resume this month

Brazeau and Duffy would no longer be suspended once the session ends, but instead would be put on an automatic leave of absence under Senate rules because of the criminal charges. Their $142,400 annual salaries would resume, although not right away. Senators are paid monthly at the end of the month, said Senate spokeswoman Nancy Durning.

As for the other perks, the Senate’s internal economy committee would have to decide how much access they have to Senate resources. Committee members are expected to be in Ottawa next week to discuss the findings of the auditor general’s critical review of Senate spending, and an election call may push the issue of Duffy and Brazeau into the discussion.

The trio were suspended in November 2013 over allegations about inappropriate housing and travel claims.

At the time, a majority of senators voted in favour of stripping the trio of all but their titles and access to health benefits. That meant they could no longer go to their offices, use a Senate-issued computer, tablet or smart phone, charge for meals or travel.

It was the harshest penalty the Senate has handed out to one of its members since a scandal involving Liberal Andy Thompson in 1998. He was suspended, and later resigned, after collecting a salary while spending the majority of his time in Mexico.

 


 

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