Percy Down, Catherine Callbeck, Libbe Hubley all say more investigation needed into Senate expenses issues
© Canadian Press graphic
Sen. Patrick Brazeau, left, Sen. Pamela Wallin and Sen. Mike Duffy are seen in this combination of three file photos.
P.E.I.’s three Liberal senators say they believe more investigation is needed into ongoing developments in the Senate expenses scandal before they can decide whether Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau should be suspended without pay.
Senators have been engaged in heated debate in the Red Chamber for more than a week on a motion introduced by the government leader in the Senate, Claude Carignan, that would see the three embattled senators stripped of everything but their titles.
Senate Opposition Leader James Cowan is trying to amend the motion in order to send the senators’ cases to a special committee and give them a fairer chance to defend themselves.
Senator Percy Downe from Charlottetown says he believes an inquiry at committee is needed where all the key players could
be called to testify under oath.
“Questions could be asked of both sides and we can try to find out who’s telling the truth here,” Downe said.
“There has been a host of allegations made against the prime minister, against senior officials in the government of Canada, against many in the Conservative Senate leadership and Canadians deserve to know who is telling the truth and who is not.”
On Monday, Duffy spoke for the second time in as many weeks in the Senate, introducing new allegations into the ongoing expenses scandal.
He said his legal bills for the Nigel Wright payment were covered by the Conservative party’s lawyer and also that he was coached by the prime minister’s office to lie to the public and tell Canadians he received the $90,000 to repay his living expenses through an RBC loan.
Conservative senators and the prime minister have denied the majority of Duffy’s claims.
All three of P.E.I.’s Liberal senators said the drama and intrigue of the last few weeks have been unprecedented in all their respective years in the upper chamber.
Nonetheless, Senator Catherine Callbeck said despite the allegations against the three, they deserve to be dealt with fairly.
“I’m not defending the actions of those three senators or saying that they should not be disciplined. But I am defending their right to due process,” Callbeck said.
“Every day brings forth new questions and new developments and I think that we have to get a process to get the answers to these questions. I think Canadians need to know the truth.”
Senator Elizabeth Hubley pointed out the sanctions facing Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau are rather stringent. They would lose not only their paycheques but also their health benefits.
“We’re dealing with a really serious situation,” Hubley said.
“On both sides of the Senate we have people bringing forward issues. We could at least feel we are going through a process that is the correct way to do it, and I certainly don’t
feel that this is the correct way.”
Hubley and Callbeck also said there are questions about whether the Senate’s sanctions could interfere with the ongoing RCMP investigations into many of the same expense concerns.
All three said they plan to support Cowan’s amendments to see Duffy, Wallin, Brazeau and others questioned more thoroughly at a special committee.
The Guardian once again requested an interview with Duffy Tuesday, asking whether he would offer comments more directly to Islanders about the whole expenses scandal and how the possible sanctions he faces could significantly limit his ability to represent P.E.I.
He answered simply, ‘No.’