Good Day Readers:
Ever noticed how people will sometime say the damnedest things:
Colleen, the cashier at the Bargain Shop on Main Street confirms: She buys her underwear here
It's nice to know that while Senator Wallin may have caviar taxpayer travel tastes at least she's frugal on the essentials and not patronizing Victoria's Secret. Nice to know, thanks for that Colleen.
While still on the subject of asinine comments, what about this from the article?
“There is a point of privacy here and people don’t appreciate what they’re
asking of you when they ask that. I don’t think anyone would want to go and put
their credit card numbers on line and I don’t want to put those (health card)
numbers,” she said Saturday.
Silly woman, no one is asking you to put your precise health card number online, rather, in which province is it registered?
If this interview is an attempt at damage control it's feeble and failed miserably.
Clare L. Pieuk
Senator Pamela Wallin defends her travel expenses
By Petti Fong
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Senator Pamela Wallin stops by a flower shop in her hometown of Wadena, Saskatchewan, on Saturday to pick up flowers for her mother.
(Petti Fong/Toronto Star)
WADENA, SASKATCHEWAN — Senator Pamela Wallin has defended her travel expenses, saying she must travel extensively across the country, returning regularly to her province of Saskatchewan.
In an exclusive interview in her hometown, the first since admitting her expenses are under scrutiny by an independent auditor, the Conservative senator said Saturday she is happy to be in public service but believes she deserves some privacy.
She was in Wadena, population 1,500, where her parents and sister still live and where she maintains two residences and owns a seasonal business selling ice cream. Wallin left Ottawa at 6 a.m. Saturday to catch a flight to Saskatoon and then drove 2½ hours to Wadena, a trip she said she takes every other weekend.
“This may be difficult for people to understand but we’re not home when we get off the plane. For people, they get off the plane in Halifax, in Montreal, in Toronto and they’re home, we don’t have that option,” she said.
They all claim a special expense available to senators with a second home in the National Capital Region but whose main residence is more than 100 kilometres away. At issue is whether their Ottawa-area homes are in fact their primary residences.
There are no suggestions that Wallin’s home in the National Capital Region is her primary residence.
Although Wallin refused to say whether she has a Saskatchewan health card or where she votes, she said she doesn’t consider herself a resident of Toronto where she has owned a home since her journalism career began more than 30 years ago.
“There is a point of privacy here and people don’t appreciate what they’re asking of you when they ask that. I don’t think anyone would want to go and put their credit card numbers on line and I don’t want to put those (health card) numbers,” she said Saturday.
“The reality is the Senate is changing and it’s no longer the image of old white guys sitting around smoking cigars. We are active, I can’t do my job sitting at a desk in Ottawa. I am committed to public service but that means we are on the road, a lot.”
As an honorary colonel in the air force, Wallin said she is routinely asked to visit air force bases in Comox, British Columbia, Edmonton and Halifax. As well, she has told Air Canada that the fastest growing province in the country must have more frequent flights to Regina and Saskatoon.
Her first stop Saturday in Wadena was at Sunflower Florist to pick up flowers for her 90-year-old mother, before heading to the seniors’ facility where her parents live. Wallin is a regular customer and calls from the road to tell the owner, Darcy Swinderski, to pick out some cut flowers.
A glance at the invoices from the pocket labelled Pamela Wallin shows she’s been in town to pick up flowers for her mother almost every second week since November.
Asked when they last saw the senator, residents answer without hesitation.
“In the lineup at the grocery store,” one man said.
“At her mom’s birthday party two weeks ago,” said another.
“Driving down her drive,” said a third. “You know, Pamela Wallin Drive.”
Colleen, the cashier at the Bargain Shop on Main Street confirms: “She buys her underwear here.”
While Wallin claims to live in Saskatchewan, published travel expenses suggest she may not be visiting very often. Over a two-year period ending last November, Wallin claimed only $29,423 for expenses to travel between Ottawa and Saskatchewan, a category billed as “regular” travel. During the same time, she claimed $321,027 for travel to other parts of Canada and around the globe.
Wallin claims to have spent 168 days in Saskatchewan and 94 days in Ottawa last year, but has not said how many days she spends in Toronto.
“You see her everywhere around here,” said Francis Weber, who has known the family since 1952 when he first began delivering milk to residents in Wadena and was a former student of Wallin’s mother, Leona.
“Whatever the rest of the country thinks, we know Pam is here. She’s never been anything but part of our community. Even when everyone else saw her on TV, we saw her on TV and back home all the time.”
“Here we all know Pam as Bill and Leona’s daughter. We know she’s a senator and we all know when she was a reporter. But if you’re from here and you’re as old as me, you’ve either been taught by Leona or you or someone you know went to see Bill (a technician at the town hospital) at some point,” said Duncan MacDonald, a resident since 1927 who met Wallin’s parents years before she was even born when he used his tractor to rescue their vehicle stuck in the mud.
If she takes the last flight of the day, Wallin lands in Saskatoon too late to rent a car. She must then take a cab to a hotel, stay overnight and then cab back to the car rental agency for the drive to Wadena the next morning — all legitimate Senate travel expenses that would have increased the amount of Wallin’s expenditures between Ottawa and Saskatchewan, her sister said.
But the senator has worked out an arrangement with the tenant of her Toronto condo that occasionally lets her stay overnight, Bonnie Wallin said, adding that the late Friday flight from Ottawa and the early Saturday morning flight from Toronto to Saskatchewan aren’t claimed as travel back to her home province.
“Pam is too much a Saskatchewan person to waste money by spending it on hotels and cabs,” said Bonnie Wallin. “She knows why the prime minister appointed her. She’s a celebrity senator. No one else from here gets asked to speak all over the country like she does. Not the MPs, not the other senators and when she flies to Halifax to give a talk and flies home from there to Saskatchewan, that’s considered other expenses.”
Pamela Wallin was an active campaigner for the Conservatives during the last election and continues to make appearances for the party in Saskatchewan. An NDP official in Saskatchewan, who asked not to be named, told the Star this weekend she is an effective campaigner for the Tories and is more popular in her home province than the prime minister. The Conservatives hold 13 of the 14 federal ridings in the province.
Beside the home she co-owns with her sister, Wallin has a cottage in the lakeside community of Fishing Lake, about 25 kilometres east of Wadena. Her neighbour, Dave Harding, said she uses it for at least a couple of weeks every summer.
In 2007, after the lake rose 90 centimetres higher than it ever had before due to an ice jam, many homeowners were flooded out. Wallin got involved in organizing committees to improve channels and berms, Harding said.
“No one asks if we’ve seen Pam around here because we just do,” he said. “I remember on New Year’s Eve she was here for a party at the seniors’ home and someone said she could be anywhere for New Year’s — Paris, New York. But the rest of us just said why wouldn’t she be here in Wadena?”