News Canada

Sen. Pamela Wallin quits Conservative caucus over travel claims

By David Akin, Postmedia Network

Senator Pamela Wallin is seen during a luncheon at the Conference of Defence Associations in Ottawa Feb 21,  2013.  Andre Forget/QMI Agency

Senator Pamela Wallin is seen during a luncheon at the Conference of Defence Associations in Ottawa Feb 21, 2013. Andre Forget/QMI Agency

OTTAWA — One of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's worst weeks in politics has ended with the exit of another high-profile senator from the Conservative caucus.

Sen. Pamela Wallin, the former CTV and CBC broadcaster, announced she will "recuse" herself from the Conservative caucus pending the results of an audit into travel expenses she submitted.

"I have been involved in the external audit process since December 2012 and I have been co-operating fully and willingly with the auditors. I have met with the auditors, answered all the questions and provided all requested documentation,” said Wallin.

“I had anticipated that the audit process would be complete by now, but given that it continues, I have decided to recuse myself from the Conservative Caucus and I will have no further comment until the audit process is complete."

Harper named Wallin to the Senate in January 2009. She represents Saskatchewan in the upper chamber.

Questions about Wallin's expense claims were first raised in February. Taxpayers covered nearly $30,000 in travel claims for her travel between Saskatchewan and Ottawa, but Senate records show she also claimed $321,027 for travel to other Canadian destinations, including Toronto, between Dec. 1, 2010 and Nov. 30, 2012.

An audit is underway but has yet to be complete on those other travel claims to determine if they are allowed under Senate rules.

Senate rules allow claims for direct travel between Ottawa and a senator's primary residence. Wallin claims her primary residence is in Saskatchewan, though she owns property in Toronto and has an Ontario health card.

Wallin's announcement comes the day after her former CTV colleague, Sen. Mike Duffy, resigned from the Conservative caucus as he faces new questions about housing and per diem claims he expensed during the 2011 general election and about a personal cheque of $90,000 he received from Harper's chief of staff, Nigel Wright.

The Wright money was apparently given to Duffy as a gift to help Duffy pay back ineligible housing allowances he received.

The Senate's ethics officer is investigating the $90,000 Wright gave to Duffy as a gift and, on Friday, the NDP called on the commissioner of elections to investigate Duffy's travel claims during the 2011 general election.

Wallin is now one of four independent senators who are facing questions about their expenses.

The others are former Liberal Sen. Mac Harb and former Conservative Sen. Patrick Brazeau.

An earlier version of this story contained an error. Nigel Wright has not resigned his position. QMI Agency regrets the error.

Poll

Should Pamela Wallin resign from the Senate?


Reader's comments »

By adding a comment on the site, you accept our terms and conditions


Featured Businesses

Go to the Marketplace »