Senate leaders repay Senate expenses, deny wrongdoing

Leo Housakos and James Cowan say they have repaid the money, though they disagree with Ferguson’s conclusion they filed improper expense claims


Maclean’s On the Hill discussed the latest Senate expense scandal and more in the latest episode of our politics podcast:

OTTAWA – Two of the Senate’s most influential members have repaid thousands of dollars in expenses flagged by auditor general Michael Ferguson and are backing down on their plans to challenge his findings.

Senate Speaker Leo Housakos and Senate Liberal leader James Cowan say they have repaid the money, even though they disagree with Ferguson’s conclusion that they filed improper expense claims.

In a statement, Housakos said he has repaid about $6,000 for questionable contracts from his office and travel claims for one of his staff.

“I remain steadfast in my belief that all of my actions as a senator and now as Speaker have been in good faith, in adherence with the rules governing the Senate and most of all with due regard for Canadians.”

Cowan said he has repaid about $10,000 for travel Ferguson says wasn’t for parliamentary business.

“I stand by my position that all expenses charged by me to the Senate were, and will continue to be, entirely appropriate,” his statement says.

Senate government leader Claude Carignan has also already repaid about $3,000 in dubious travel claims for one of his staff.

The trio faced tough questions from their colleagues last week over why, despite being named in Ferguson’s report, they were involved in setting up an arbitration process that gives senators a chance to potentially quash Ferguson’s findings.

Housakos, Cowan and Carignan were accused of having a conflict of interest for setting up a process that could end up helping them.

It was two weeks ago that Housakos announced former Supreme Court justice Ian Binnie as the special arbitrator to oversee spending disputes between senators and the auditor general.

Housakos said he repaid the money he didn’t want any questions about the “integrity of the process or the manner in which it was implemented.”

Cowan, too, denied any conflict of interest, saying he continues to “respectfully disagree” with Ferguson’s claim that three trips to Toronto in 2011 were for personal events, rather than parliamentary business.

“I have taken this action solely to remove any lingering perceptions about the integrity of the arbitration process.”

Ferguson’s audit, which singles out nearly $1 million in problematic spending by 30 senators, is scheduled to be released Tuesday.

Already, nine senators have had their files referred to the RCMP for a criminal review. A further 21 senators — Cowan, Carignan and Housakos among them — have been flagged with problematic claims.

Ferguson’s report calls on the Senate to create an independent body to oversee spending so senators are no longer policing their peers.

The report, a copy of which was reviewed by The Canadian Press, calls for “transformational change” in Senate spending, and urges senators to act quickly on the recommendations.


Senate leaders repay Senate expenses, deny wrongdoing

    • Why not the BOIE while your at it as well, because I’m sure that doesn’t agree with your way of thinking either. Why don’t we just bust the constitution wide open? Every time an institution doesn’t agree with your way of thinking, lets get rid of them too, yes lets get into autocratic governments like we have now. I’m looking for a government who wants to build a nation, not take it apart. The only reason the dippers are on the rampage over the senate, is because if they ever think they will end up being in government, the senate will never have any influence on the senate, they have no influence on the senate at all, outside looking in. Maybe Tom and the dippers should divvy up their portion of what they stole from the trough, either they shut up, or put up.

      • The Senate is, and always has been, a useless repetition of the HOC. It’s also a fake House of Lords.

        The NDP have never agreed with having a Senate, and won’t allow any of their members to be a senator.

        What is it about Canadians who can’t comprehend changing anything??

        • Should they form government the NDP would sill need to have the Senate vote on bills. The GG will not sign bills unless they have been voted on by both houses.

          The constitution states that ( 32.) When a Vacancy happens in the Senate by Resignation, Death, or otherwise, the Governor General shall by Summons to a fit and qualified Person fill the Vacancy.

          So when a vacancy occurs it has to be filled. We have already paid millions in legal fees regarding Senate “reform” issues, probably more than all Senators’ wrongdoing put together I venture to bet, and now we are going to spend more to find out from the Supreme Court that the vacancy should be filled within a reasonable time period. This is ridiculous.

          • Yes the dippers are out in brute force going after Trudeau for C51, and Tom wants to open the constitution, never mind how much it will cost financially, not alone the effects it will have a across the country . Time for Tom to start telling us how he is going to do it. Macleans are in the tank for abolishment, John Geddes said Sunday on the talk show on the CPAC , both him and Susan Rielly made it clear to the moderator they wanted to see senate abolished , and I haven’t heard much from Mr. Democracy himself, Mr. Wherry, he seems to be warming to the NDP side of abolishment from the tone of his punditry on CTV with Don Martin yesterday. As far as I am concerned, Macleans is a flat out in the tank vote for the NDP In 2015, and shows their bitterness and distain for Trudeau. Pundits and bloggers are the ones who drives the message, not the politicians. You know what Tom Mulcairs weakness really is, answering tough questions(he uses rambling to deflect, if it’s a softy reporter), he may be good at asking them, but brother, be ready for Tom(hands going all over the place, the defensive position) if it’s a question that he doesn’t want to talk about, he cut the moderator of on a local open line show in NL last week, when asked about the 2.7 million they owe, you know the money the media is trying brush under the carpet for the dippers because of their distain for our democracy(BOIE), it doesn’t work for them either.

        • Let me ask you a question, how will the senate abolishment make your life more manageable, because you, like Macleans and the dippers(fringe party), have a serious hard on to get rid of the senate. Would it be personal satisfaction, maybe it will improve or enhance your life. You are just like the dippers, all protest and activism, lets get people angry(who else does that, Harper), and suck from the trough just like these day care students Tom has sitting behind him. You may have a lot more education than I have about policies and numbers and the way you write your nice little tidy comments with all the I”s dotted and T’s crossed, but you lack knowledge of ones character, I judge character and authenticity, I don’t see that in the NDP, the only one I have respect for, is Jack Harris, the rest are just, well, the rest. I look in Tom and Steves eyes, I see anger and rage, you can hide that just for so long. Don’t underestimate Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, no other leader would have stepped into the lions den of Dipper supporters of C51 like Trudeau, they don’t have the GONADS to do it.

      • The senate in its current form is an indefensible relic from a bygone era.
        The Senate in inherently undemocratic because:
        1) Senators are not accountable to the people that they supposedly represent, unlike MPs.
        2) Senators are appointed on the say-so of one person.
        3) It makes an absolute mockery of one-person-one-vote. For example, New Brunswick has more senators than BC even though BC has six times the population of New Brunswick.

        The Senate needs to be either abolished or reformed along the lines of a EEE Senate (the first ‘E’ being “equitable”, not “equal”). It is nothing more than a bad joke in its current form and has no place whatsoever in a liberal democracy.

  1. The most corrupting function of the senate is not just swilling at the trough. The unelected senate exists to corrupt democracy itself.

    Conservative and Liberal Senators, (unlike MP’s) are allowed to sit on corporate boards, so that senators can be plugged in to the needs of oil companies, banks, drug companies and the rest of the corporate elites.

    The senate is an instrument of the elites to frustrate the decisions of the rabble from the democratic House of Commons. The role of Liberal and Conservative senators is to delay, amend and vote down bills from the House of Commons, on behalf of those elites.

    “Corporate”-second-thought, much more than “sober”- second- thought, is the primary function. Abolishing the senate will eliminate the primary corruption. The NDP is committed to work to abolish the Senate.

    That is why the parties of the elites, the Conservatives and the Liberals, have formed a coalition in a secretive Star Chamber ( Board of Internal Economy) to attempt to smear and hamstring NDP MP’s.

  2. The Senate costs us a minimum of $100M a year ….to rubber stamp bills already passed by the elected HOC.

    Anyone wanting to keep this body has mush for brains.

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