POLITICS

Raymond Lavigne, Former Liberal Senator, Denied Early Parole

08/23/2013 08:09 EDT | Updated 10/23/2013 05:12 EDT
CP

OTTAWA — Former senator Raymond Lavigne was denied early parole Friday by an Ontario Parole Board panel that found he should be held to a higher standard.

In 2011, Lavigne was sentenced to six months in jail, six months of house arrest and ordered to give $10,000 to charity for falsifying travel claims and abusing his office by asking a research assistant to cut trees on his property during Senate work hours.

The board found Lavigne expressed little remorse for his crimes.

"Every public office holder must be held accountable to a higher standard and your actions demonstrate a severe departure from these standards," the decision reads.

The 67-year-old has been held at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre since June 4. His appeal was heard and dismissed on June 5.

Lavigne had tried to convince two parole board members earlier Friday that he is too sick to remain in jail until the end of his sentence in October.

Dressed in a bright orange jumpsuit and a black patch over his right eye, Lavigne limped to his hearing and told commissioners his health is failing. His leg keeps paralyzing and needs cortisone shots, his back is sore and he needs physiotherapy, and his eye — the retina detached from his eyeball while he was in jail — needs three more treatments this fall before he can see clearly.

"I am sick Madams," he told the two commissioners, Carol Baker and Sylvie Parent, in French.

When asked if he assumed responsibility for his crimes, the former Liberal senator, who was kicked out of caucus after a Senate committee in 2006 found he had abused his office and ordered him to pay back $23,000, remained defiant.

"I have not committed any crimes, I have not killed anyone," Lavigne told them.

"I assume the penalty that the court has given me."

As a senator, Lavigne gave his staff $50 to drive him to and from Montreal but pocketed $217 from the Senate for each trip.

Lavigne told the parole board the questionable travel claims happened after he was hospitalized and on medication.

"I am a man who is responsible and who has always respected the law," he said.

Lavigne said he doesn’t understand why the court wants him to give $10,000 to a not-for-profit. If he’s accused of cheating out two of his staff members, he said, the money should go to them. He also blamed his lawyer for not putting him on the stand.

Still, he acknowledged that as the boss he was responsible for whatever happened in his office.

"I am almost 68 years old," he told commissioners. "I’m not going there," he said, pointing to the ground, "I am going there," he said, pointing to the sky.

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