OTTAWA – The Conservatives in the Senate have given notice of their intent to bring the proposed suspension of three former Tories to a vote as early as mid-week.
The Senate is holding a rare Friday session to resume debate on motions to suspend former Conservatives Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau without pay.
While a number of senators have argued against any rush to judgment on the trio, the Conservatives are pushing for a quick end to the politically damaging fight.
A Conservative motion would set a timetable for a vote on all the suspensions and any proposed amendments and subamendments in one fell swoop.
The motion, introduced by Sen. Yonah Martin, the deputy government leader in the Senate, opens by stating that “notwithstanding any provisions of the rules or usual practice” the votes should go ahead at the earliest possible date.
That looks like it could come around next Wednesday — in time to have the three troublesome senators booted from the upper chamber before Conservatives gather next weekend for a policy convention in Calgary.
The three targeted senators say their suspensions are all about internal party optics in advance of the convention.
The Senate expenses imbroglio has been carrying on for the better part of year and Senate deliberations were delayed for full month this fall when Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament.
Claude Carignan, Harper’s appointee as Conservative leader in the Senate, was at loss Friday to explain the urgency of suspending Brazeau, Duff and Wallin immediately.
“It’s a very important issue. I suppose it is very important because you are all here,” he said, nodding to the media throng.
“So if it’s so much important (for the news media), it’s important for the Senate also to decide on this motion.”
Even some Conservative senators are complaining about the haste and lack of due process in suspending three senators who have been charged with no crime.
James Cowan, the Liberal leader in the Senate, noted Friday that the government hasn’t even moved its own speech from the throne for Senate approval — the ostensible reason that Parliament’s opening was delayed by a month this fall.
Instead, the upper chamber has been consumed by a suspension motion against three senators even as an RCMP investigation continues into the matter.
Cowan wants the suspension question sent to a Senate committee where its legality, fairness and utility can be fully examined.
“What is this government afraid of if we follow our usual procedures?” he asked.
Looking for more?
Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.