Conservative Party should repay taxpayers for audits of Tory senators: Mulcair

OTTAWA – NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says the Conservative party should pick up the costs associated with auditing a pair of former Tory senators who filed improper expense claims.

Mulcair made the comments Monday as he highlighted his so-called “Roll up the Red Carpet” tour, part of a national campaign to publicize his party’s support for Senate abolition.

The campaign opened in May, with the first stop of the tour three weeks ago in P.E.I. — home province of embattled Sen. Mike Duffy.

Both Duffy and colleague Pamela Wallin claimed expenses related to Senate business while they were actually attending party events.

“They were participating in these highly partisan activities with public money,” Mulcair told reporters outside the Senate chamber.

“So at the very least, the Conservative party should reimburse for the audit because it was an audit that was made necessary because the prime minister didn’t tell the truth in the Commons in February when he said there was no problem with Pamela Wallin’s expenses…”

Mulcair vowed to keep the Senate on the political front burner, despite the fact Parliament won’t return until October. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has signalled his intent to prorogue Parliament and open a new session with a speech from the throne.

“In the last five weeks of Parliament, the prime minister showed up to answer questions exactly five times,” Mulcair told an enthusiastic gathering of NDP staffers. “By the time the House finally reconvenes it will have been five months since he’s had to answer a question.

“Well, Mr. Harper needs to answer for himself and he needs to answer to Canadians. If he thought the questions last spring were tough, he hasn’t seen anything yet. We’re just getting started.”

Senate reform is likely to figure in the throne speech, which will outline the government’s legislative agenda for the new session.

The Conservatives are awaiting a response from the Supreme Court of Canada on a variety of Senate reform questions, including how the upper chamber might be abolished.