Brazeau charges surprise pundits; RCMP widens net

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The RCMP are set to deliver an update on their Senate investigation that is likely to announce charges against Mac Harb and Patrick Brazeau.

Senator was considered least at risk; odds increase others face indictment

Until this week, many political pundits and journalists in Ottawa had predicted that Patrick Brazeau had the best chance to escape criminal charges from an RCMP investigation into the Senate expenses scandal. Conflicting evidence about Mr. Brazeau’s primary residence in Quebec and his comments that he welcomed any investigation, all lent credence to that opinion.

Mac Harb, a former Liberal senator who resigned from the Upper House last summer, and Mr. Brazeau, a former Conservative senator who was suspended from the Senate last fall, face one count each of fraud and breach of trust in relation to their travel and living expense claims. If police think they have sufficient grounds to lay charges against Mr. Brazeau and Mr. Harb, then it’s almost certain that charges are pending against P.E.I. Senator Mike Duffy and Sask. Senator Pamela Wallin. Both Conservatives were suspended from the Senate last fall while RCMP investigate allegedly fraudulent expenses claims.

Also being investigated is Nigel Wright, who was Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff. He gave Mr. Duffy $90,000 to reimburse the Senate and it is that payment which has complicated the Duffy case as RCMP are investigating allegations the two men engaged in fraud, bribery and breach of trust.

It’s been a most tumultuous past 14 months for Mr. Duffy. He was dogged by expenses and residency issues throughout 2013, gave two startling speeches in the Senate in an effort to save his job and then was given the boot from the Upper Chamber for two years. Mr. Duffy is recovering from heart surgery late last fall and was too ill to travel to Charlottetown for his sister’s funeral just before Christmas.

Canadians are left wondering just how far afield charges will go from this whole sordid affair. Court documents suggest more than a dozen others, including staffers in the Prime Minister’s Office, at least four Conservative senators and Conservative party officials, were involved or knew about the payoff deal between Mr. Wright and Mr. Duffy.

Meanwhile the charges against the two senators might just be the start of more black marks against members of the Upper Chamber. Auditor General Michael Ferguson is looking at each senator’s expenses and has promised to name anyone found to have made improper claims and refer the cases to the RCMP.

It would be a supreme irony if additional senators do face charges and include those who sat in judgment and voted to suspend three of their colleagues.

 

School seizes opportunity

 

Immanuel Christian School is fortunate to have some very dedicated supporters. Six school families have purchased the former Kent Building Supplies building on Allen Street in the centre of Charlottetown to allow staff and students to leave cramped quarters at Spring Park United Church and move into the spacious facility, once renovations and improvements are completed.

It’s certainly a novel idea which has involved the entire school community. The new location will see students enjoy a full-sized gymnasium and allow classes right into Grade 12. With soccer fields nearby and lots of space behind the building, it’s quite an addition for the school community. There are concerns about a propane tank farm across the street and we wish Coun. Mitchell Tweel good luck in trying to have that business relocate to an industrial section of the city far away from residences and schools.

The school has come a long way since it opened with 12 students in 1986 to 103 students today from pre-kindergarten to Grade 9 even though parents pay close to $5,000 per student to attend. The new building will allow the school to expand to over 200 students and prevent families from being turned away. The option of what the principal describes as “a safe community with excellent teaching in a culture that fosters children’s faith” obviously has a strong and growing appeal among many Islanders.

 

 

Organizations: RCMP, Upper House, Upper Chamber Christian School Kent Building Supplies

Geographic location: Ottawa, Quebec, Charlottetown Sask. Allen Street

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