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Senate scandal

Senator Mac Harb committed breach of trust: RCMP

Tony Spears, Multimedia Journalist
Ottawa Sun

By Tony Spears, Ottawa Sun

Liberal-appointed Senator Mac Harb leaves the Senate at Parliament Hill in Ottawa May 9, 2013 after the Senate Board of Internal Economy.  Andre Forget/QMI Agency

Liberal-appointed Senator Mac Harb leaves the Senate at Parliament Hill in Ottawa May 9, 2013 after the Senate Board of Internal Economy. Andre Forget/QMI Agency

OTTAWA — Mounties believe former Liberal Sen. Mac Harb committed breach of trust — a criminal offence — by fiddling his expense claims over the course of the past 10 years, newly-obtained court documents show.

Lead investigator Cpl. Greg Horton filed an extensive summary of the case against Harb that also suggests the senator was untruthful in a sworn affidavit Harb filed in a bid to prevent the Senate from ordering him to reimburse over $231,000 in living and travel allowances the Senate says Harb improperly claimed.

The document convinced an Ottawa judge Thursday to order Senate staff to produce documents pertaining to Harb’s primary and secondary residences, travel claims, Senate attendance and other such information.

“Based on the information and evidence gathered to date, I believe Sen. Harb has committed breach of trust by filing inappropriate living and travel claims since 2003,” Horton wrote at the conclusion of the 23-page document.

“While he has owned homes in both Cobden and Westmeath, the investigation has shown that neither of those homes was his primary residence.”

Three months after Harb was appointed to the Senate in 2003, he bought a home in the Ottawa Valley town of Cobden — a little more than 100 km away from Parliament Hill, the required distance for a senator to be able to claim expenses for having a secondary residence in Ottawa.

He sold the home in 2011 after buying a home in nearby Westmeath the year before, which is also more than 100 km away from the Hill.

Investigators spoke extensively with people who lived near his rural homes, none of whom said he spent a significant amount of time there.

A man who rented pasture land from Harb had a key to the house so he could reset a temperamental electrical breaker that controlled the property’s well. He never saw anyone at the property during the week, Horton’s investigators were told.

“If anyone was living in the residence, they would likely have realized when there was no water and reset the breaker,” Horton wrote.

Harb also hired a cleaner to prepare the Cobden house for sale in April 2010. She told cops it took her a week to clean “as it was quite dirty with dust and dead flies,” Horton wrote.

“She did not believe the residence had been lived in for some time.”

The mail carrier at his Westmeath home told police Harb had not received any mail “until recently” and that he had made no effort to arrange for delivery when he moved in.

In June, Harb swore an affidavit claiming then-clerk of the Senate Paul Belisle told him in 2003 that he could claim his Cobden home as his primary residence.

But Belisle told investigators “he has no recollection of such a conversation,” Horton wrote.

“It was not in his purview to provide such direction.”

Harb has repaid to the Senate over $51,000, but under protest.

Calls to Harb’s lawyer late Thursday were not immediately returned.

tony.spears@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @ottawasuntonys

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