Senators targeted with suspension may make their case in the chamber

OTTAWA – At least two of three senators targeted with suspension without pay are considering pleading their cases to their colleagues in the upper chamber.

The offices of former Conservatives Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau say the senators may well show up to defend themselves against the move initiated by their former colleagues.

But Duffy and Brazeau both have medical conditions that may play into their decision to appear.

Colleague Pamela Wallin has not indicated whether she will be in the Senate, but like the others she argues that the process violates the constitutional right to due process.

The Conservative leadership in the Senate is scheduled to introduce three separate motions to suspend the senators without pay and benefits, due to “gross negligence” in managing their resources.

Conservative Sen. Hugh Segal made it clear he intends to oppose the motions.

“However the Senate may be in disrepute in many people’s minds, it does have a constitutional role to ask these tough questions,” Segal said.

“We’re establishing the principle of pre-trial sentencing, we’re establishing the principle of guilty until proven innocent, and that is not how we operate in the British system. There are parts of the world that operate that way; we don’t, and I think it’s important that we stick to that principle.”

Most other Conservative senators going into today’s midday caucus meeting refused to speak out publicly before the debate in the chamber.

“I don’t make comments on any issues until I hear from everyone, and then I’ll make a decision,” said Sen. Raynell Andreychuk, who represents Saskatchewan.

Sen. Marjory LeBreton responded briefly to an allegation from Duffy’s lawyer, Donald Bayne, that she wrote to Duffy in 2009 telling him that Senate residency rules were not defined.

Asked whether she had sent him such a message, LeBreton said, “Absolutely not.”

Several Liberal senators have said that they are outright opposed to the suspension motions, citing the lack of due process and the setting of a dangerous precedent.

“It’s not a process that I’m used to from where I come from,” said Sen. Romeo Dallaire, a retired Canadian Forces lieutenant-general.

“I want to see people go through proper process, no matter what the institution, and certainly no matter what the politics are,” Dallaire said.

“After that, if we’re a country that believes in human rights and justice, then we can at least face each other in an appropriate fashion — not the way we’re going about it now.”

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