What is the Senate's business?

Awaiting the Pamela Wallin audit

The audit of Pamela Wallin’s expenses won’t be public until later today, but Postmedia got a sneak peek and offers a preview of the considerations and counter-arguments.

In their report, the auditors write that part of Wallin’s inappropriate costs were for “partisan related activity, such as fundraising.” Her lawyers cite as an example a May 27, 2011, event for former cabinet minister Bev Oda, who resigned in July 2012 over her own spending scandal, which was made famous by a $16 glass of orange juice charged to taxpayers. At the Oda event, Wallin talked about Oda’s ministerial role overseeing intenrational development, as well as the Afghanistan file, which Wallin knew from her work chairing the Senate’s defence committee. Her lawyer’s letter notes that fundraising events took place outside of election campaigns, involved talking about Senate-related matters, and that “this was generally accepted practice,” suggesting that others in the Senate have done the same.

… The amount that was subject to interpretation relates to “networking events,” auditors write. “It is Senator Wallin’s position that when she was appointed, she understood that her ‘networking’ with contacts was an important part of her role to ‘…be accessible and in touch with as many ‘communities of interest’ as possible to ensure that she would be an activist and effective senator,’” the audit says. “The steering committee determined that, while occasional, exceptional occurrences for special events might be acceptable, the volume and pattern of the events listed would not qualify them as Senate business.”