The Commons: How much would you pay to send Pamela Wallin to Moose Jaw?

The public audit of the senator’s expenses continues

by Aaron Wherry

The unofficial public audit of Senator Pamela Wallin’s expense account continues apace.

“Let us put the spending of these tax dollars into perspective,” NDP MP Wayne Marston graciously offered shortly before Question Period, referring to some $300,000 in “other” travel expenses apparently claimed by the Senator over the last few years. “This could have paid for one year of old age security for 57 seniors. It took the combined taxes of 28 hard-working Canadian families to pay for this person’s ‘other’ travel. Think about it. Every single dime in taxes for 28 Canadian families just to cover this senator’s ‘other’ travel.”

There is probably a worthwhile proposal here somewhere to make the Senate entirely dependent on voluntary public pledges.

A minute later, Thomas Mulcair stood and pegged the Senator’s travel expenses at $350,000 over a 27-month period. The NDP leader was displeased, but the Prime Minister was apparently unconcerned.

“Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday, the amount spent by the Senator for travel is similar to that of other parliamentarians,” he said.

In fact, Mr. Harper had an example.

“Just to give an example of that, for instance, over the past three years the average amount spent on travel to and from provinces by western members of the New Democratic Party has been $350,000,” the Prime Minister reported, having apparently stayed up late last night to do the math. “These are the costs that parliamentarians incur when they travel back and forth from Ottawa to their provinces. That is what the senator has done. Of course, all senators and members are committed to ensuring these expenses are appropriate.”

Mr. Mulcair was not quite persuaded to drop the subject.

“Mr. Speaker, $13,000 a month in travel expenses even when the Senate is not sitting is certainly not comparable to other senators,” he declared. “Conservative Senator Pamela Wallin has spent more money on travel outside her supposed home province than any other senator. Even the Conservative committee chairman charged with investigating corruption in the Senate has questioned her travel expenses, calling them very unusual.”

Now the NDP leader leaned in to directly stare down the seated Prime Minister. “In fact,” Mr. Mulcair ventured, “maybe Pamela Wallin is just a typical Conservative senator after all: unelected, unaccountable and under investigation.”

The Prime Minister began to stand up here, apparently thinking Mr. Mulcair was through, but the NDP leader did still have a question to state (if only for the sake of formality). “Will the Prime Minister continue to defend this blatant abuse of public funds or stand up for taxpayers?” he asked.

Mr. Harper would offer reassurances. “Mr. Speaker, once again, the senator spends almost half of her time in the province she represents in the upper house. Her travel costs on Senate business are, in fact, comparable to others. All senators and members of the House are fully prepared and committed to have an examination of expenses to ensure that they are appropriate,” he explained. “That is the commitment that this government has made in both chambers, a commitment we will keep.”

After several rounds to deal with decidedly more profound matters, the House returned to Senator Wallin’s travel habits and Peter Van Loan was compelled to stand and attempt to deflect. “Mr. Speaker, as has been indicated, Senator Wallin’s spending on travel is comparable to that of other parliamentarians from the same region, including western NDP parliamentarians,” he protested. “Apparently it is all right for them to spend that money, but when a Conservative senator spends it, travels and represents their community, and is there for 168 days for the people of Saskatchewan, it is somehow inappropriate.”

Given that the New Democrats favour abolishing the Senate, this was perhaps not quite the charge of hypocrisy that Mr. Van Loan thought it was.

“The NDP members’ real concern is that Conservatives are representing their communities,” the Government House leader continued. “Their problem is that they do not have anyone in Saskatchewan to represent the NDP.”

So perhaps the New Democrats could drop their objections to Ms. Wallin’s expenses and the Conservatives could drop their objections to the more NDP-friendly new riding boundaries in Saskatchewan and the two sides could call it even.

The NDP’s Charlie Angus finished the official opposition’s testimony for the day with a flourish. “Let us bring a few more things forward,” he offered. “During the last election she was charging $25,000 to the taxpayer for ‘other travel.’ She was showing up at party fundraisers in places like Moose Jaw and Collingwood.”

Various Conservatives audibly questioned the inclusion of Moose Jaw in Mr. Angus’ indictment. And, indeed, as their bemused grumbling seemed to suggest, Moose Jaw is a town in Saskatchewan. And so, at the very least, that much can be said in Ms. Wallin’s defence: whatever she was doing during the last election and however much it cost the public treasury, at least, in that particular case, she was doing it in the province she was appointed to represent.

The Commons: How much would you pay to send Pamela Wallin to Moose Jaw?

  1. Huge ridiculous sums of money spent on an utterly useless institution for 150 years now.

  2. If 1998 Stephen Harper were in the house today listening to 2013 Stephen Harper justify graft and corruption, he would have TOTALLY kicked his *ss.

  3. Moose Jaw is, indeed, in Saskatchewan but the last time I checked, Collingwood was still on Georgian Bay in Ontario.

  4. Hmmm maybe she should join the Military and see how hard it is to move your family with the new cuts to it’s members……what a crock of……..well you know

    • Excellent point, why would any single person need 300,000 over a few years to spend on travelling within Canada and during times when the senate does not sit. She is swindling Cdn’s of their hard earned tax dollars, and as usual Harper is actually advocating and supporting her behaviour. Ms. Wallin had a respectful career as a reporter, bring important stories to people’s attention why would she want to take advantage of people now. It all comes down to self-respect when people sincerely respect themselves they consistently respect others. Regardless of party I respect the work ethic and committment to serving Cdns of green leader E. May, Irwin Cottler liberal, Libby Davies NDP, who all are well known to work tirelessly on behalf of their constituents.

      • Libby Davies is an idiot who thinks that Hamas is a beneficient, peaceful social welfare agency. Get real.

        • While this comment is perfectly worthy of many Harper supporters today, it doesn’t pass muster in an intelligent debate. Perhaps you might try a little harder to make an intelligent, thoughtful, factual comment next time.

    • Wow great comparison, military families deserve much more for their travel expenses. Ms. Wallin, Harper, Clement have some class. There is nothing noble about taking advantage of Cdn taxpayers.

  5. Wallin clearly has overspent on travelling expenses spending $13,000 on months in which the senate was not in session. What did she spend all this money on? Harper is as usual not holding anyone in his party accountable for swindling Cdn taxpayers. Ms. Wallin, Peter McKay for using military helicopters for his own personal travel, the 50 million which went missing in Tony Clements riding ect.. are all stealing from Cdn taxpayers as they are knowingly inappropriately using Cdn taxdollars. It is too bad Ms. Wallin is so obviously taking advantage of cdn taxdollars she was a thorough/smart reporter, why would she want to leave people with this memory of her. Who needs 300,000 dollars for a single person to travel within Canada for approx. three years. Besides as a person who has started over 6 businesses, and pays very close attention to costs, the senate has no cost benefit. It is very expensive, some senators take advantage, and has no significant role socially, economically or environmentally it definitely should be abolished ASAP. I have written my MP in regards to this, I do not wish for my taxes to pay for the senate. Taxes deserve to go for health care, economic development, maintaining streets, community centres but not the senate.

  6. “There is probably a worthwhile proposal here somewhere to make the Senate entirely dependent on voluntary public pledges.”

    Ha! At that rate Pam would be forced to ski or roller skate to the senate.

  7. Sober second thought. It’s not a useless institution. It’s for insuring the MP’s don’t do crazy stuff and spend money wildly and enact poorly thought out changes to our legal and regulatory systems… The Senate is supposed to be checking wording and true meaning of all laws passed in the house so our rights are not trampled on. It’s research is intended to be independent of the house and to guide the writing of new laws to be fair and in the best interest of Canadians.

    I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to be a stacked deck with a media circus on top.

    • Hah….it’s never worked then.

    • last time I heard of them striking down a bill was when the conservative senators broke the environmental protection bill meant to fight global warming that was put forward by a majority of MPs. Suddenly sober second sounds hollow and untrue.

  8. Does mr harper not comprehend the difference between 27 months (ms wallin) and 36 months (the examples this “never-worked-as-an-economist” pm used)?

    While we’re at it – it used to be that ALL our PMs and elected folk would use public transport, i.e. Air Canada, etc to get from A to B. Certainly Mr. Diefenbaker et al rode first class, but ALWAYS on a public carrier. When was the last time anyone saw Little Lord Fauntleroy harper on public transport (photo ops don’t count)? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

  9. How much would you pay to send Arron Weary to writing school?

  10. She was representing the Upper House?

    Laugh of the day!

    How many Zombies does it take to wash a house?

  11. “I am not a crook”

  12. I use to really respect Miss Pamela…now she is nothing. No principals, just like the rest in the senate.

    • There are many principled members of the Senate who work hard for Canadians; Pamela Wallin was never meant to look out for Canada, but rather to spend taxpayer dollars travelling back and forth stumping for her boss. She is doing what she was appointed to do, as were Puffy and Brazeau.

      • Senators work hard for Canadians? Or work hard for the PM who appointed them? They certainly weren’t put in office by Canadians. They certainly aren’t accountable to voters.

        The senate is nothing more than an ornamental rubber stamp. I think “work hard” can be defined as trying to make themselves look busy… If the senate was doing any real work at all it would’ve broken up Harper’s 70-bills-in-one omnibus budget. It is useless.

  13. The idea that she spends 180 days in Moose Jaw is absurd. Ottawa is bad enough.

  14. Apparently, the last “sober second thought” of a senator is, “should I have one more martini on this flight?”

  15. Apparently good ol’ Pam needs to be more careful when she rents a car… because she rents cars with an Ontario Drivers License. This proves she is not a Saskatchewan resident!

  16. We should start a new political party in this country totally dedicated to getting rid of this sycophantic, trough- feeding body. We could call it the AS (abolish senate) or other variants like Abolish Senate Soon etc. Seriously, if a party was put together in this country with the sole purpose of getting rid of these leeches, they would win a lot of seats.

    • One party is alreadt commited to abolishing the Senate – you can vote NDP instead of starting a new party. (Or if you’re in Quebec, you could vote Bloc, who also advocate abolition). But voting Conservative, Liberal or Green means supporting the continuation of the trough-feeding Senate.

      • Yeah well so far the NDP have been awfully quiet about all the senate scandal lately. Why is that?

        • If you think they’ve been quiet about it, I don’t think you’ve been watching Question Period (re-read the article above to get a flavour of that). And you certainly aren’t in the party’s email list (I’ve received at least 3 different emails from them focused on the Senate in the past week).

          I wish they’d be doing more creative media hits on the subject to get the press to give them more attention as the only national party committed to abolishing the Senate – but they certainly haven’t been “quiet” about it.

          • I appreciate your response, but sending out emails to party faithful (which I bet come along with please for donations) isn’t exactly communicating a policy idea to the general public. I acknowledge that they have talked about the current senate troubles, but as the party that pushes abolishing the house, I am surprised they aren’t more out in front of this issue. And I wonder why. Also, you are correct about me watching QP: I haven’t even been following it online lately, let alone TV, because I cannot even stand to read in print the BS that goes on in there.

  17. “How much would you pay to send Pamela Wallin to Moose Jaw?”

    Nothing when she has abused the system so badly – just another of those who think they are entitled to help themselves from the taxpayers pockets – she makes me sick when I think about my 84 year old mother -in-law trying to make it on$1,500/mo.

  18. Postmedia news on April 14, 2011 identified Pamela Wallin as speaking at a Conservative fundraiser for the local Tory incumbent during the federal election. She was still being paid her senator’s salary, yet the senate’s rules were clear that any travel and other expenses she had during this time period had to be paid by the party itself. The Conservatives claimed they had paid all of her expenses. Now we see that tax payers were billed $26,000 travel costs during this time period. Does this mean that taxpayers were paying for Pam’s partisan travels during the election after all?

  19. I’ll chip in for a one way ticket.

    • Cruel to Moose Jaw…

      ..but count me in.

  20. Damn those teachers! Wanting all that taxpayer money. We the MP’s of the Nation need it for ugh… er… ughm… Traveling! And sorry to you 5000 workers we laid off too in the begining of the year. We need your money too for ugh… more traveling since the people we hired for the job need to commute.

  21. That’s an obscene misuse of funds. She and other parliamentarian must be held accountable for their expenses. Accountable to the tax paying public. And there must be complete transparency in audits. She should have to pay back those funds. ….
    What a disgrace!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *