You really have to wonder about this Nathan Cullen lad. Taxpayers want to know who's ....ing away their hard earned dollars. It matters not whether it's a Senator or Member of Parliament.the money belongs to Canadians they're the ones who earned it and don't you forget that politicians!
What's good for the goose is also good for the gander. The Auditor General's Office shouldn't have to be "invited" to look at the books that's nonsense. An AGO must be empowered to conduct ad hoc audits of both Houses as
As for Mr. Cullen's argument MPs can and should be allowed to self-monitor ..... Balls! Time and time and time again politicians have shown to be like lawyers. Do not trust!
BTW, Senator Downe is one of the good guys, unfortunately, he finds himself surrounded by a bunch of losers. You may recall he was in the news not long ago over reports millions and millions, probably billions, of dollars were being offshored by wealthy Canadians to avoid the Canadian Revenue Agency.
At the time, he was unaware fellow Liberal Senator Pana Merchant, married to high profile Regina lawyer Tony Merchant, had been snagged in a scheme in which she was named as a beneficiary to a secret trust fund worth a little over $1 million registered in the Cook Islands. Mr. Merchant has been battling the CRA for several years while unbeknownst to the Agency the offshore account existed. A few months ago he launched a lawsuit against the Canada Revenue Agency. Good luck!.
Clare L. Pieuk.
Fur Flies between MPs, Senators as AG's upper chamber audit rages on
Senators may be undergoing the toughest-ever spending probe in the Senate's history, but MPs say over on the House side they don't need to be audited by Canada's auditor general causing a war of words between the two Houses over the sensitive issue.
By Abbas Rana
Monday, March 3, 2014
Liberal Senator Percy Downe, left, and NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen. Senator Downe says the House should also be regularly audited by the AG, but Mr. Cullen says the Senator is trying to deflect attention away from the Senate. (The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright)
Senators may be undergoing the toughest-ever spending probe in the Senate’s
history, but MPs say over on the House side they don’t need to be audited by
Canada’s auditor general, causing a war of words between the two Houses over the
“We don’t take lessons from this Senate when it comes to expenses. These guys
have stolen more money than Al Capone,” NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen
(Skeena-Bulkley Valley, British Columbia.) told The Hill Times
when asked to respond
to PEI Liberal Senator Percy Downe’s motion calling for a comprehensive audit of
all MPs’ expenses by Auditor General Michael Ferguson.
The text of Senator Downe’s motion tabled in the Senate Chamber on February 25
states: “That the Senate call upon the Members of the House of Commons of the
Parliament of Canada to join the Senate in its efforts to increase transparency
by acknowledging the longstanding request of current and former auditors general
of Canada to examine the accounts of both Houses of Parliament, and thereby
inviting the auditor general of Canada to conduct a comprehensive audit of House
of Commons expenses, including MPs’ expenses, and that the audits of the House
of Commons and the Senate be conducted concurrently, and the results for both
Chambers of Parliament be published at the same time.”
In the 105-seat Red Chamber, there are 57 Conservatives, 32 Liberals, seven
Independents, and nine seats are vacant. The motion does not have any
legislative power and if MPs’ refuse to undergo an audit by the auditor general,
it could cause some suspicions in the minds of Canadians that they may have
something to hide.
According to a study based on 12 focus groups conducted by Léger Marketing, a
polling and market research firm, for the Privy Council Office released in
August, accountability of politicians is one of the “top-of-mind” priorities for
Canadians along with the economy, job growth and natural resource development.
The study was conducted when media outlets across the country were awash with
news stories about questionable expenses claimed by some Senators.
“Recent allegations [Senate expenses scandal] regarding misspending were
perceived as a sign that more accountability was needed for all use of public
money. The events of the past few months created a sense among participants that
overspending or using public money for personal benefits may be widespread,” the
“Many participants spontaneously contrasted what they viewed as a waste of
tax dollars by rich politicians to their more difficult personal situation. They
were frustrated to think that public servants used Canadians’ hard earned tax
dollars to live lush lifestyles while taxpayers personally struggled to make a
In the aftermath of the Senate expenses scandal last year that revealed that
some Conservative and Liberal Senators claimed inappropriate housing and travel
expenses, the Senate’s Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration Committee
invited Mr. Ferguson to conduct a comprehensive audit of all Senators’ expenses.
Since then, three former Conservative-turned-Independent Senators—Mike Duffy,
Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau - have been suspended until the end of this
Parliamentary session and former Liberal Senator Mac Harb has resigned.
The RCMP is conducting an investigation into the alleged fraudulent housing
and travel claims of these Senators. Last month, the RCMP formally charged Sen.
Brazeau and Senator Harb with one count each of fraud and breach of trust related
to alleged fraudulent Senate expense claims. The RCMP also alleged the two
defrauded taxpayers by claiming travel and living expenses that they were not
The RCMP is also investigating the transaction between Nigel Wright, the
former Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, and Senator Duffy. Mr. Wright gave
Senator Duffy $90,000 to pay off his questionable Senate expense claims.
Mr. Ferguson is scheduled to release his audit report by March of 2015 which
could reveal even more embarrassing misspending by other Senators from both
Meanwhile, after tabling this motion in the Senate on Tuesday, Senator Downe
wrote a letter to all party leaders asking them to put forward a motion in the
House and invite the auditor general to conduct a comprehensive audit of their
“Canadians are requesting more transparency, particularly when it comes to
the way their public institutions are run. Canadians expect all Parliamentarians
to manage their budgets with careful consideration, but they also expect to see
proof of that consideration. To that end, I urge you to show strong leadership
on this issue by moving a motion requesting that the Auditor General conduct a
comprehensive audit of the expenses of members of the House of Commons,” Senator Downe wrote.
Page 1 of 3
Senator Downe sent the letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary
Southwest, Alberta.), NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair (Outremont, Quebec), Liberal Leader
Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Quebec), Bloc Québécois Interim Leader André Bellavance
(Richmond-Arthabaska, Quebec), and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf
Islands, British Columbia).
Ms. May said she agrees with Senator Downe’s motion and will try to put forward
a motion in the House this week calling on the Commons to invite the Auditor General to audit their expenses. But she cautioned that other parties are
unlikely to let her table this motion because she needs the House’s unanimous
consent and for that she needs to have 12 MPs in her caucus, but she only has
“I’ll draft a motion according to what Percy Downe’s letter proposes. I’ll
try if I can get unanimous consent. I’ll try,” said Ms. May.
But Conservative and NDP MPs’ vehemently rejected the idea that the Auditor General should audit their expenses.
“We’re proactively posting all our expenses as of last fall, if you go on our
website, you’ll see they’re there and the House administration will be posting
them starting in the next fiscal year, so we’re in very good shape. So, no audit
is needed,” Chief Government Whip John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, British Columbia)
told The Hill Times
Conservative MP Daryl Kramp (Prince Edward-Hastings, Ontario) said he’s opposed
to the idea mainly because it would cost a lot and that there aren’t any
specific examples where MPs misusing the public money. Given the absence of any
misuse of expenses on the House side, Mr. Kramp called Senator Downe’s request for
an audit of MPs’ expenses a “schoolyard approach.”
“It costs a lot of money to audit and that’s fine if there’s definitely an
apparent a problem, then by all means, audit. Why not?” said Mr. Kramp and added
that with the current rigorous finance system in place on the House side, MPs
can’t abuse the system. “I don’t see there’s room [for cheating], we have no
But one MP, who spoke to The Hill Times
on condition of anonymity,
said although he’s unaware of any specific recent cases where MPs misused their
expenses, there is room for potential abuse.
“There are a lot of things that a person can do if they want to cheat.
There’s all kinds of crap you can do but do you want to destroy your good name
for a [few] thousand bucks?” said the source and offered two examples to make
Hypothetically, the source said that if an MP drives to and from Montreal or
the GTA area to Ottawa on the same day, that person does not have to submit any
receipt and can claim .54 cents per kilometre on gas, which could result in
hundreds of dollars per trip. If the MP did not return to and from the riding on
the same day then receipts would have to be provided.
“Gasoline is around $100 [round trip for Toronto], let’s say, it’s close to
450 kilometres. That’s like $350-$400 bucks roughly. That’s $1,600 for a month.
It’s a lot of money. Out of 64 round trips, let’s say you cheat on 20, you paid
MPs are allowed to have 64 round trips from their ridings to Ottawa
Another possible example, the source offered, is an extreme case in which an
MP hires an employee and makes an arrangement in which the staffer will
officially be paid $80,000 annually, out of which the staffer will have to pay
back $20,000 to the MP and the staffer will keep the rest.
“Is that being done, I don’t think so but some people might be stupid.”
The source pointed out that MPs also don’t have to submit taxi receipts, if
the fare is $25 or less.
The source said that he’s not worried about his own expenses and would
welcome an audit, but said some MPs are worried about the details that the
auditor general is getting into on the Senate side such as reportedly trying to
hold Senators accountable for “every cent” that they spent.
A Senate source told The Hill Times
recently that the auditors are
examining phone bills, all hospitality expenses, and, in some cases, requesting
the personal credit card records of Senators who used those cards to pay for
their Senate expenses.
Page 3 of 3
According to this source, Mr. Ferguson also has told Senators that his team
reserves the right to speak to Senators’ neighbours as to whether or not they
actually live where they claim they live and also to interview third parties or
their staffers on any of their filed claims.
When told about some of the potential ways MPs could abuse the system, Mr.
Kramp told The Hill Times
: “To my mind, that’s fraud, that’s criminal.
That’s not even misrepresentation. That’s criminal. There should be a criminal
investigation on something like that, if that were to take place.”
Senator Downe said he also agrees that a vast majority of Parliamentarians
follow the rules but as it turned out, some on the Senate side didn’t and were
caught. For this reason, he said it’s in the interest of all Parliamentarians,
MPs and Senators, to undergo the comprehensive audit process. Senator Downe said
reluctance on the part of MPs would cause some to think that they have something
“The vast majority expenditures are in line, I believe that. I believe them
[MPs’] but Canadians want proof and I suspect, like the Senate there’s some that
may not be in compliance. The way to do this is clear the air.
Why are they
reluctant to do this?”
Mr. Cullen disagreed: “This is more about Senators desperately trying to
turn the light on somebody else, when the fact of the matter remains, when we’ve
had the auditor general already come in for performance audit review of the
House of Commons, it was a positive audit,” said Mr. Cullen.
“So, again, hypocrisy coming from these guys is outstanding and they know
they got caught. It’s ridiculous, no one believes them,” Mr. Cullen said.
Mr. Cullen said the only way to address the issue of MPs’ expenses
permanently in his party’s view is by first abolishing the Commons Board of
Internal Economy and replacing it with an arm’s length agency to monitor and
manage MPs’ expenses.
According to the current mandate of the auditor general, Mr. Ferguson can
conduct audits of both Chambers of Parliament on request only.
The last time the auditor general conducted an audit on the House was two
years ago when only a small sample of MPs’ expense claims were audited which
included a one-time audit of the financial administration of the Commons. That
audit report found that 98.5 per cent of the claims reviewed were properly
documented. The AG’s audit of the Senate’s financial administration in 2012
found a 94.8 per cent compliance rate. Before that, the last time the AG audited
Parliament was more than 20 years ago.
Senator Downe said that the 2012 audit is one of the key examples of why a
comprehensive audit is also needed because with a detailed probe, each MP’s
expenses will be audited. And in the 2012 audit, only a small number of MPs and
Senators were audited and both audits showed a high percentage of compliance,
which turned out to be otherwise when the Senate expenses scandal came out.
The AG “didn’t do individuals MPs’ expenses and the House of Commons was 99
per cent compliance and the Senate was in 94 per cent compliance. We know how
that has turned out. We need a detailed review to restore confidence of
Canadians in the system,” said Senator Downe.
Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau’s (Papineau, Quebec) office did not respond
to emailed questions about whether he supports Senator Downe’s motion or if he or
one of his caucus members would table a motion in the House asking for a
comprehensive audit by the Auditor General.
Liberal MP Scott Simms (Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland.and
Labrador) told The Hill Times
that as an MP, he supports the idea of MPs’
audits by the auditor general, but said Mr. Trudeau will decide whether their
caucus will table a motion asking for one or not.
In response to MPs’ unwillingness for an audit, Senator Downe quipped: “They all
want to go to heaven but none of them want to die. They’re all supportive but
nobody would take the action. I’m hoping they will take the action.”
Meanwhile, two Conservative Senators Don Meredith and Raynell Andreychuk told
The Hill Times
recently that MPs’ expenses should also be audited, but
last week were unavailable for comments.