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Mike Duffy may be asked to table expenses memo in Senate

10/24/2013 09:16 EDT | Updated 12/24/2013 05:12 EST
The former Senate leader for the Conservatives says she will demand Senator Mike Duffy table a memo he claims gave him assurance his housing expense claims were in accordance with Senate rules. 

Majory LeBreton told Anna Maria Tremonti of CBC Radio's The Current that she intends to ask Duffy to table the memo (email) he says LeBreton sent him shortly after he was appointed to the Senate. Duffy says the memo assures him about his claim to be a P.E.I. resident.

Senators Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau have all fired back at a bid by Conservative senators to have the three suspended without pay and benefits for inappropriately claiming Senate expenses. Motions related to the three senators' possible suspensions will again be debated by senators on Thursday .

For four years, Duffy claimed expenses for his Ottawa home because he declared his primary residence is in P.E.I., the province he represents in the Senate.

On Monday, at a news conference in Ottawa, Duffy's lawyer, Donald Bayne read an email purporting to be from LeBreton to Duffy.

Bayne said LeBreton wrote, in a response to Duffy's query about whether he could claim expenses for his Ottawa home: "Given that the Senate is the master of its own house in terms of the qualifications, it is also right to assume that they, the Senate, can define precisely what residence constitutes."

Bayne refused to read the entire email or provide a copy to reporters.

LeBreton told Tremonti she did not tell Duffy he could claim what she called "his cottage in P.E.I." as a primary residence so that he could claim expenses for his Ottawa home.

On the other side of the Senate, Liberal Senator Pierrete Ringuette called Wednesday for any emails or memos to be tabled in the Senate that might show the three senators were led to believe their expense claims were acceptable.

"That would certainly influence my opinion," said Ringuette. She added if such paperwork existed, "This would be like leading people down a certain road and once they get there, telling them that there is construction and that they have to turn around and go back home."

Beside the three motions of suspension, there is also a motion from Brazeau asking for a public hearing before a Senate committee to explain his expenses, and a motion from Liberal Senate leader James Cowan to refer the suspension issue to a special committee for further study.

It's not yet clear when a vote on the various motions will take place.

Debate may reveal dissenters on Tory side

But the debate itself will give some indication of how many Conservative senators are siding with their Liberal counterparts in opposing the motion.

Critics complain that Pamela Wallin, Duffy and Patrick Brazeau are facing a sentencing without being convicted of wrongdoing.

At least one Conservative senator, Don Meredith, has said he supports a Liberal motion to have the matter sent to committee for further study.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, however, has told the House of Commons he sees nothing wrong with the Senate expulsion motions.

Wallin has called the motion an affront to Canadian democracy, motivated by politics and personal vendettas against her.

On Wednesday, Wallin told the upper chamber that her reputation has been left in tatters by personal and political vendettas involving confidantes of Harper.

Wallin accused fellow senators Carolyn Stewart Olsen and LeBreton of leaking information about her to the media. Wallin said the two were jealous of her, and Olsen "had her sights set on me from the beginning"

LeBreton told Tremonti that Wallin's charges "make a terrible statement about women." In the Senate on Wednesday, after Wallin spoke, LeBreton insisted, "At different times I had caucus colleagues tell me that they thought I spent too much time talking about the great talents of Pamela Wallin."

Duffy alleges Conservative scheme to oust him

Harper mounted a vigorous defence in question period on Wednesday against explosive remarks made yesterday by Duffy in the ongoing scandal.

Duffy alleged, in a speech to the Senate on Tuesday, there was a Conservative scheme to have him removed from the upper chamber unless he went along with a plan to repay his Senate expenses, although he believed he had followed the rules.

Less than 24 hours after Duffy made those remarks, the prime minister denied Duffy's allegation that he was more concerned about the perception of Duffy's expenses in the media than whether he violated parliamentary rules because the expense rules were “inexplicable to our base."

Harper rebutted Duffy's version of events saying, "the issue is not a matter of perception … you can not claim an expense you did not incur. That is not right, that is not proper, and that will not be tolerated in this party."

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