The Senate voted last night to send the matter of Mike Duffy’s expenses back to the internal economy committee—the same committee whose original investigation of Mr. Duffy’s expenses is now being questioned in light of Nigel Wright’s cheque to Mr. Duffy.
Liberal Senate leader James Cowan also rose on a question of privilege that could, if the Speaker agrees, create a second inquiry process in the Senate.
In our case, actual words are being used and, in the present circumstances, who would argue that “odium, contempt or ridicule” do not accurately reflect what the feelings of ordinary Canadians are about the Senate today? I will not read into the record the language Canadians have been using publicly to express what they think of the Senate and of us as senators. We have all heard them, through the media and personally. We cannot ignore them.
It is critically important to re-establish the confidence of Canadians in their public institutions. The public allegation of outside interference in the proceedings of the Senate needs to be thoroughly investigated, with all parties involved being given an opportunity to explain their respective roles.
Meanwhile, as noted yesterday, the Liberals want the House ethics committee to take up a study of the matter, but Conservative MPs represent a majority on the committee and so at least some of them will have to agree for any kind of study to go forward. Of course, should the committee decline to launch an investigation, Conservatives will (or at least should) have to explain why not. That the House of Commons would not take this matter up for investigation would seem to me to be a rather gross abdication, but for now I’ll merely pose the question: is there any particular reason the House of Commons ethics committee shouldn’t be investigating this?