© Canadian Press photo
Sen. Mike Duffy is trailed by media as he arrives at the Senate on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
OTTAWA -- With the Senate poised to consider suspending three of its members without pay, some Conservative and Liberal senators made it clear today they’re standing firm against what they consider a rush to judgment.
The Conservative leadership in the Senate is scheduled to introduce three separate motions to suspend Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin because of “gross negligence” in managing of public funds.
The trio of disgraced senators created a stir when they arrived on Parliament Hill, making their way past a phalanx of cameras and microphones.
“The Senate’s sitting. It’s my job and, despite doctor’s orders, I’m here,” Duffy said on his way into the chamber.
He last week announced he was taking a medical leave of absence due to a heart condition.
The three sat together and chatted in the back row of the ornate chamber.
Brazeau stood to speak almost immediately after Senate business began for the day, saying he had a motion calling for an open hearing into his expenses. He said the hearing should be conducted by the Senate’s internal economy committee and that he and his lawyer be allowed to speak there.
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Sen. Claude Carignan, government leader in the Senate, said members will be allowed to vote their consciences on the suspension question, although he said he didn’t expect a vote today.
The process troubles some senators, including Conservative Hugh Segal, who says the motion against Wallin in particular looks like a sentencing without a trial or guilty verdict.
“We don’t bring people into court for sentencing before we’ve actually had a discussion about whether they are guilty of anything or what it is they might be guilty of,” Segal said.
“This motion is a sentencing motion. ... Something is, in my view, out of order.”
Most other Conservative senators going into today’s midday caucus meeting refused to speak out publicly before the debate, expected to take place later in the day.
“I don’t make comments on any issues until I hear from everyone, and then I’ll make a decision,” said Sen. Raynell Andreychuk, who represents Saskatchewan.
“We don’t bring to people into court for sentencing before we’ve actually had a discussion about whether they are guilty of anything or what it is they might be guilty of." Conservative Senator Hugh Segal
Sen. Marjory LeBreton responded briefly to an allegation from Duffy’s lawyer, Donald Bayne, that she wrote to Duffy in 2009 telling him that Senate residency rules were not defined.
Asked whether she had sent him such a message, LeBreton said, “Absolutely not.”
Several Liberal senators have said that they oppose the suspension motions, citing a lack of due process and the setting of a dangerous precedent.
“It’s not a process that I’m used to from where I come from,” said Sen. Romeo Dallaire, a retired Canadian Forces lieutenant-general.
“I want to see people go through proper process, no matter what the institution, and certainly no matter what the politics are,” Dallaire said.
“After that, if we’re a country that believes in human rights and justice, then we can at least face each other in an appropriate fashion — not the way we’re going about it now.”