Who cares if Pamela Wallin owns an apartment in New York? - Macleans.ca

Who cares if Pamela Wallin owns an apartment in New York?

Tease the day: It’s open season on Canada’s expense-challenged Senators


Adrian Wyld/CP

Pamela Wallin owns a bachelor apartment in New York City, just a couple of blocks away from Central Park. The property was transferred to Wallin, the Toronto Star reports, at the tail-end of her stint as consul general in the city. For her part, Wallin says she rarely visits the place. Why any of this information is important is an open question. Does it matter that Wallin owns the apartment? Beyond their mandated residences, are Senators’ properties, wherever they may be, of interest to the broader public? Readers can answer those questions for themselves. But what we have here is an informal declaration of open season on Canada’s Senators, particularly the handful whose expenses are being audited. There’s a point where newsworthiness fades away and gotcha for gotcha’s sake begins, and as reporters dig up more and more “dirt” on Canada’s troubled Senators, that line’s worth looking for.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with Alberta’s projected $4-billion budget deficit. The National Post fronts Canada Revenue Agency’s potential back taxation of parents after revoking the charitable status of a Christian school fund. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with the latest, young victim of the city’s gun violence. The Ottawa Citizen leads with Canada’s new ambassador of religious freedom, Andrew Bennett. iPolitics fronts Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber’s move to the Commons’ Aboriginal affairs committee. CBC.ca leads with police opposition to accused murderer Oscar Pistorius’ bail application. National Newswatch showcases a Toronto Star story about Conservative Senator Pamela Wallin’s New York residence.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. RCMP watchdog. The Mounties’ complaints commission will investigate the claims of police wrongdoing in B.C. made by Human Rights Watch in a report released last week. 2. Mandatory minimums. Crown attorneys are crowding a Toronto courtroom in defence of the government’s new gun laws, as six cases involving gun violence are heard this week.
3. Private clinic. An Alberta clinic is denying allegations that it helped its patients, who pay thousands of dollars a year for care, jump queues for colonoscopies at a public facility. 4. Washrooms. The University of Regina will convert some of its single-toilet facilities into gender-neutral washrooms, a change that requires nothing more than a new sign on the door.

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Who cares if Pamela Wallin owns an apartment in New York?

  1. “For her part, Wallin says she rarely visits the place.”

    The real issue is that Wallin wastes $13,000 a month of taxpayer money on travel expenses. So are taxpayers paying for her to fly to her NY bachelor pad? Canadians deserve to know.

    • What kind of climbing apparatus is required to mount and dismount from your High Horse?

      • $13,000 a month is more than what you get if you win the Cash For Life Lottery. This is clearly an abuse of taxpayer money. (In fact the entire senate is a waste of taxpayer money.)

        • The fact that the Senate is useless is Pamela Wallin and the CPC’s fault? Even though it existed in it’s current form for decades? Great point!

          • I made no mention of the CPC. But now that you bring it up, Harper is clearly a hypocrite for promising to end patronage appointments while becoming one of the worst offenders. Instead of just stacking the senate, he stacked it with many relatively young senators (like Brazeau) to stink up the place for decades.

            But the CPC can make amends by joining the NDP in their efforts to abolish the senate. It’s the only viable kind of senate reform.

          • Great point! Of course the Senate is only a problem when there are Conservative Senators. The place was stacked for years with Liberal cronies but now that they have lost support in the House and of course a majority in the Senate suddenly the Senate is broken and needs to be fixed.

          • The senate has been corrupted with partisan hacks since Confederation. Your paranoia is misguided and your position is hypocritical. Harper and other Reformers ranted on endlessly about the senate and corrupt Liberal appointments while in opposition. But did even worse when they came to power.

          • Yeah! Where’d this notion that the Senate is broken and needs to be fixed come from!?!?! Why does the mainstream media keep acting as though someone told them that once the Tories were elected things were going to be different?

            Everyone knows that the Tories based their plans for governing on the many years of successful Liberal governance. They openly campaigned on “We’re going to do things like the Liberals always have”. They PROMISED to only appoint Tories (and especially Tories who are good for fundraising) to the Senate. And yet, every time (and there have been MANY) that the Tories point out that they’re just doing things the way the Liberals always did, people act as though that’s some big shock. I just don’t understand it.

          • Packed with Liberal cronies – OK – give me ONE example of a Harper appointee who doesn’t sit on the Conservative side in the Senate
            Give me one example of a Senator appointed on the recommendation of a Liberal PM who read a text to the press to clarify that their role in the Senate is to further that PM’s agenda.

        • Put your partisan comments back in your pocket. We all agree that there is far too much money being wasted by MPs and Senators. However, if they are playing by the same rules then you have no room to criticize. Elect a party that will change the system. Good luck with that.

          • How on Earth is criticizing Pamela Wallin for spending $13k/month on travelling expenses partisan? What party does a person belong to if they make such a criticism?

    • I struggle to understand the justication of Wallin’s expenses — okay, so she DOES fly to SK a lot, even though she does NOT meet the residency requirement (and never did: over to you, Harper) — but why does that mean it’s all a-okay to fly back and forth like what, twice a month, on the taxpayer dime. Is she doing any work, or just coming to see her dear old mum out here? I note in every article in which she is quoted, she keeps pointing to the huge workload of a senator — it’s why she says she is rarely in NYC to enjoy her apartment there — and so what work is she doing in Wadena? Or in SK? OTHER THAN FUND RAISING AND STUMPING FOR CPC, THAT IS?

      • That is the key…
        Wallin is one of the main fundraisers for the Conservative Party.

        If she billed taxpayers for that…then this will become as big as Adscam.

        Focus on this point…everything else is smoke and mirrors.

        • I think every dime these useless senators spend on expenses needs to be accounted for. They already do enough freeloading ($132k/yr for nothing.)

          • Of course as long as it is Conservative Senators right Ron.

        • LOL “big as Adscam”? A politician soliciting donations while on other official business? Pretty sure every single Senator and MP would be “guilty” of that “infraction”.

          • The key being: was she really on “other official business” or was her business purely partisan fundraising? If the latter then she has some ‘splainin’ to do.

            I’ll grant the Adscsm comparo is a bit of a stretch, though.

          • Is Wallin, a Senator for Saskatchewan, engaging in “official business” outside of Ontario and Saskatchewan? I’m not saying that’s impossible, but I’d be curious to know what sort of official business a Senator would attend to outside of the capital and the province that they represent.

        • As big as adscam? Quit being a drama queen. If she has used taxpayer money inappropriately and that has yet to be proven then she should repay it.

          • Certainly would make a very good Entitled to Her Entitlements campaign.

      • Senate travel rules are meant to cover the cost of travel between Ottawa and a senator’s home province. Nothing about being on official business. So feel free to complain about the rules, but attacking her for playing within the rules is just stupid.

        • Senate travel rules are meant to cover the cost of travel between Ottawa and a senator’s home province.

          The article says that only about 10% of her expenses are listed as
          “regular” travel between Saskatchewan and Ontario. It also says that the other 90% is listed as travel to other places in Canada, and abroad.

          • And you believe a senator should only be billing the senate for travel to and from their home province? The cost of any other official travel should be incurred by them personally?

          • No. I was responding to your assertion that “Senate travel rules are meant to cover the cost of travel between Ottawa and a senator’s home province”, and clearly that’s not the case, and more is allowed.

            I would be curious to discover what “official business” a Saskatchewan Senator has outside of her home province that manages to take up 90% of her travel expenses. And, frankly, I’d love to know how often her “other business” coincides with a major fundraising event for the party.

      • She represents the province of Sask. not Wadena. You should take a lesson in how our political system works. There is no evidence she is flying to NYC on the taxpayers dime. The media have now jumped the shark. All MPs have their expenses covered for travelling back and forth to their constituencies.

        • The media!?! The Senator has used the media to explain her spending habits while an investigation is still underway – and you know what they say about those who live by the sword.

          • How else would she communicate her point of view? Not sure how this allows reporters to insinuate misspending. Though I agree that her travel expenses are cause for concern and audit that should be made public.

          • Senator Wallin is not the first parliamentarian to face insinuations of misspending. There are plenty of examples of how these insinuations have been dealt with in the past. How many of them wrote an opinion piece in the G&M about it before publication of an audit? You need to be of the media to have that kind of access.
            She could have issued a press release, I’m sure she has the staff to help her do this.

        • Do you have any concerns regarding the fact that Wallin actually “only” claimed $29,423 in travel expenses over the period in question for regular travel between Ottawa and Saskatchewan, while the other $321,027 in expenses were for travel elsewhere in Canada, and internationally?

          We don’t actually know whether there’s evidence that she’s claimed travel expenses for travel between NYC and Canada or not yet. All we know for certain is that only about 10% of her travel budget was listed as “regular” travel between Ontario and Saskatchewan, and that when asked if she’d ever claimed expenses for trips to NY she didn’t answer.

          • And if she did travel to New York on official business, would that somehow put her in the wrong?

          • No.

            However, in that case I would like to know what the official business was that had a Senator for Saskatchewan going to New York City.

      • why does that mean it’s all a-okay to fly back and forth like what, twice a month, on the taxpayer dime

        Apparently, only about 10% of her expenses are for regular travel between Saskatchewan and Ontario. At the amount that she’s been claiming (roughly $3000 a week), if it was all travel between Ottawa and Saskatchewan, that much money would work out to a return flight once a week, not twice a month.

    • “There’s a point where newsworthiness fades away and gotcha for gotcha’s sake begins”. And I think we’ve just found that point. Senate travel rules are meant to cover the cost of travel between Ottawa and a senator’s home province, and Saskatchewan is her home province. Presumably she knows that New York is not her home province, and one would expect that Deloitte auditors would also be aware of that fact.

      • You may argue that the article is inaccurate, but the report clearly states that only $29,423 of Wallin’s travel expenses were for “regular” travel between Saskatchewan and Ontario. It says that the other $321,027 is listed as travel to elsewhere in Canada, and abroad.

    • You know this for a fact right?

  2. I would think the fact that Thomas Mulcair, who would be Prime Minister, holds a French passport would be a much bigger deal than Wallin owning a property in New York. Has anybody asked Mulcair if he owns property in France?

    • How do you know he holds a French passport?

      I couldn’t care less if Wallin owns a pad in NYC and Mulcair un apartment à Paris. Canadians don’t need anyone’s approval to buy property is France or Florida or to marry a foreign national or to acquire dual citizenship. Only a few select Canadians, you among them, would have contempt for a fellow citizen exercising their rights.

      All I would like to know on Wallin’s part is where she claims to be a resident of as of 31 December of the year because it’s that declaration on one’s federal tax return that determines where you reside, and where your provincial taxes go.

      If she’s smart enough to travel the world and write pieces in the G&M explaining her spending habits, why am I asked to believe she is too dumb to know what address she writes on her income tax returns? Indeed, if she writes Saskatchewan on her return, why doesn’t she quickly close the case and says so!

      • Why don’t you publicly post your personal tax documents so we can verify you are not, in fact, Thomas Mulcair?

        • My name is Loraine Lamontagne, and I am a resident of Mississauga, Ontario, in the Miss/Erindale riding. I have no need to adopt a fake name to write you. You on the other hand…

          No need to post her tax documents, she should just tell us what province she is a resident of. She is paid by taxpayers after all, for a position that has a residency requirement. I see no reason why her residency should not be verifiable – why would it be required written black on white in the constitution if it cannot be verified?

    • Both are equally irrelevant as long as Canadian taxpayers aren’t on the hook for it. Unless the “journalist” who raised the issue has evidence she claimed for trips to NYC, then it should never have come up.

      • I thought the “have you ever claimed expenses for trips to NYC” was the only reasonable question asked. We’ll have to wait and see why she didn’t just say “No.”

    • Nobody cares if Wallin has property in New York, – the question is, is she charging us to visit it?

  3. Will we get the results of the senatorial audits before or after we get the results of the robocall investigation?

    • Post 2015 at the earliest…

  4. This group came to power following a campaign highlighting the head of the RCMint over insinuations made in the HoC by CPC while in opposition (never on their website) that David Dingwall had claimed reimbursement for a pack of gum, valued at about $1.29, a claim that was found to be invalid by two independent audits.
    If we can go that length over $1.29 spent by the head of Mint, definitely Canadians have the right to know how every $1.29 of their money is being spent by Senators. As I recall, the media were very enthusiastic about publishing stories about Mr. Dingwall, one Ottawa organization even followed his daughter around town for no apparent reason. Why the double standard? Has it to do with with Ms. Wallin being a former media person or the generous advertising revenue the media has been getting from the “Action Plan”?
    This group now holds a majority in the HoC and on committees. The message I get is that only a minority government can be a responsible government. Otherwise we do end up with friendly dictatorship, lack of transparency, abuse of the public purse and corruption of the press .


  6. Nick Taylor-Vaisey is correct. Senator Wallin has made a sworn statement to the Ontario Ministry of Health that her principal residence is in Ontario as well as a sworn statement to the Auditor General of Canada that her principal residence is in Saskatchewan. The apparent discrepancy between these two statements is the issue. Whether she owns an apartment in New York City or not is absolutely irrelevant.