NEWS

Senate continues to debate fate of Duffy, Wallin, Brazeau

10/29/2013 12:11 EDT | Updated 12/29/2013 05:12 EST
The Senate will resume discussion today on motions to suspend senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau in the wake of Duffy's dramatic revelation Monday that he'd received not one cheque related to ineligible expenses he claimed, but "at least two" via the Prime Minister's Office.

In a strongly-worded speech yesterday, Duffy explained that not only had the prime minister's former chief of staff Nigel Wright given him $90,000 to repay his housing claims, but the Conservative Party's lawyer had transferred $13,500 to Duffy's lawyer. 

That second cheque, Duffy told the Senate, was to pay the legal fees run up as he finessed a cover story with the PMO that he was voluntarily repaying money using a personal loan from his own bank

While question period in the House of Commons today will likely include opposition queries about the ethics of the PMO allegedly financing a legal deal for Duffy meant to deceive the public, the Senate will be preoccupied with what to do with the three senators who've had to pay back inappropriately claimed expenses. The debate starts at 2 p.m. ET.

There are three motions on the table to suspend each of the three senators without pay, office use and benefits.

At a Conservative Senate caucus meeting this morning, senators are discussing whether they could accept any compromises in the suspension motions. Topics range from whether some suspensions should be a year or a year and a half long, rather than two years, and whether health benefits should stay in place during the suspensions.

Up for discussion, as well, is a motion from the Liberals that would send the suspension issues to a Senate committee where Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau could make presentations, ask and be asked question and be represented by lawyers.

Conservative Senate Leader Claude Carignan also had a motion from last week that would limit debate time on the suspension motions, but for some reason he didn't bring it up in Monday's sitting.

Meanwhile, Conservative Senator Larry Smith confirmed he and more than a dozen other senators were briefed by officials from the auditor general's office Tuesday morning about audits about to be conducted on all senators' spending.

It's not known whether Michael Ferguson will extend the audits back over a period of years, but senators who are contemplating cutting the pay of three of their colleagues as a penalty for making inappropriate expense claims must realize a precedent could be set that could apply to other senators in the future.

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