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Flaherty says he won't rush to judge actions of suspended senators

11/07/2013 12:38 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says he doesn't want to rush to judge the actions of suspended senators Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy, and Pamela Wallin, a day after the prime minister praised the Senate for taking disciplinary action against them over claiming thousands of dollars in ineligible expenses.

"I don't pre-judge any of them because I don't know the facts of any one individual senator. I don't know what their expenses were. I haven't been through their expenses. So I'm very slow to judge any individual that way," Flaherty told reporters during a news conference in Toronto Thursday morning.

Flaherty's position appears to puts him at odds with Stephen Harper who spent the last couple of weeks urging the Senate to vote on a motion to suspend the three senators without pay.

Harper, during question period on Wednesday, congratulated "the vast majority of Conservative senators" for voting in favour of suspending the three. The government repeatedly praised the Senate for doing Canadians proud by standing up for taxpayers. 

The debate around a motion to suspend three senators without pay exposed a rift inside Harper's caucus with heavyweight Conservatives such as senators Hugh Segal and Don Plett urging their party to follow due process and wait for the RCMP to finish their investigation​.

Segal was the only Conservative senator who voted against the motion to suspend all three senators without pay, while Plett was one of a handfull of Conservative senators who abstained from voting. 

CBC News reported on Wednesday

The RCMP is investigating all three senators. No charges have been laid.

Flaherty supports abolishing the Senate

While Harper has spent the last seven years trying to reform the Senate, his finance minister is in favour of abolishing it.

"I do think, this is my own view, not the government's view, the Senate itself is an anachronism. It purports to be a legislative chamber in a democracy but they are appointed people," Flaherty said on Thursday.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who was once an advocate of Senate reform, introduced a motion on Wednesday in the province's legislature to abolish the Senate.

"It's a good idea," Flaherty told reporters in Toronto.

"If you look back at Canadian history, the provinces that came together and formed our country all had so-called upper chambers. And it came from the English House of Lords. You know, let's get over that. And let's move on. I think Canadians are ready for democracy, " Flaherty said on Thursday.

Flaherty was at the Royal Ontario Museum to launch cross-country pre-budget consultations ahead of next year's federal budget.

Last week, the federal finance minister told reporters in Ottawa the Senate was a distraction to the economic agenda of the party.

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