NEWS

NDP's Pat Martin wants MPs to defund the Senate

06/08/2015 04:54 EDT | Updated 06/08/2016 05:59 EDT
If you can't beat 'em, take away their money.

The New Democrats, long opposed to the Senate, are trying once again to abolish the upper chamber in an unlikely way — gut it of its funding.

It's not the first time the New Democrats have tried this tactic.

"It's almost a tradition," said NDP MP Pat Martin, adding that the idea dates back to the 1920s. "Since then, we've regularly moved to block the funding for the Senate. We may be unable to abolish the Senate unilaterally, but we can cut off its blood supply."

Martin, who is opposition critic for public works and government services, says he'll stand in the House of Commons this evening to present a motion opposing the Senate's more than $57 million in funds for current fiscal year.

"My view is, we've got to stop giving them money because it only encourages them, it seems," Martin said. 

NDP motion comes ahead of AG report

According to the Treasury Board, the Senate's budget for 2015-2016 is estimated at $88.7 million. Of this amount, $57 million — which Martin says is for program spending and activities — requires approval by Parliament.

The motion will be presented at 6:30 p.m. ET in the House. MPs will vote at 10 p.m. ET after hours of debate.

"I don't know if they will vote against funding the senate, but for God's sakes, how can they look their constituents in the eye and vote to send them another $57 million? Look at how they managed the last pile of money we gave them," he said.

"So, this is the whole point, is we want Canadians to go into this with their eyes open."

Earlier, Senate Speaker Leo Housakos and Opposition Leader James Cowan announced they are repaying ineligible expenses flagged by the auditor general and will not be contesting the findings before an arbitrator, in a bid to dispel any perception of a conflict of interest.

Housakos, Cowan and Conservative Government Leader Claude Carignan are ultimately responsible for the Senate's new process to handle disputed expense claims, which includes the appointment of an independent arbiter. Housakos announced the appointment of former Supreme Court justice Ian Binnie to that role last month.

The highly anticipated auditor general's report into the Senate's expense claims will be released Tuesday, and will contain details of the contested expenses of 30 former and sitting senators, as well as the auditor general's recommendations for tightening up Senate expense rules.

MORE:cbcNews