Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Wallin's lawyer warns against pension removal

  • Print

OTTAWA -- The suspensions of three senators will be invalidated if the government retroactively changes the law to preclude them from the parliamentary pension plan, Pamela Wallin's lawyer said Friday.

The law is crystal clear, Terrence O'Sullivan said: The time Wallin, Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau will spend under suspension must count toward the six years of service they need to qualify for a generous pension.

That was the law when senators voted Tuesday to suspend the trio without pay for up to two years. Changing it after the fact would mean senators did not make an informed decision about the fate of their outcast colleagues, O'Sullivan said.

"It's not a little technicality," he told The Canadian Press, referring to government Senate leader Claude Carignan's characterization of the pension issue.

"In fact, the law was there for anyone to read, as we did, before the vote (to suspend the trio) was held.

"So if they choose not to read the law, that's not my client's problem. And if they move to change the law retroactively, then that makes, in my view, the vote invalid because it took place under a legal regime that's no longer in place."

Carignan has said the intent of the motion to suspend the trio was to strip them of their pay and all benefits, including pensions, except for health, dental and life insurance.

The motion did not mention pensions and the issue did not come up during the two weeks of debate on the proposed suspensions. It was two days after the vote when the Senate administration announced it is required by law to count the time the trio spend in suspension as pensionable service.

That prompted Treasury Board President Tony Clement, who is responsible for legislation governing parliamentary pensions, to declare he'll change the law if necessary to ensure the outcasts do not accumulate pensionable service while under suspension.

O'Sullivan said Clement's declaration means "every senator who voted for (suspension) was not informed of this position and didn't have the ability to analyse whether or not they wished to support the motion if the legislation was going to be changed."

Apart from the legality of such a move, O'Sullivan said, changing the law retroactively to deprive the trio of pensionable service is "vindictive, vicious and without precedent."

Wallin, Duffy and Brazeau have been suspended for the duration of the parliamentary session, which could continue until 2015 -- the year all three would ordinarily become eligible to collect a parliamentary pension.

The suspension leaves Wallin with "none of the benefits of being a senator but all of the liabilities," including legal restrictions on employment aimed at preventing conflict of interest, O'Sullivan said. She is already trying to figure out "how she's supposed to support herself during the next two years," he said.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 9, 2013 A22

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Free Press Editorial Board: Brian Pallister

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Susan and Gary Harrisonwalk their dog Emma on a peaceful foggy morning in Assiniboine Park – Standup photo– November 27, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A red squirrel peaks out of the shade in a tree in East Fort Garry, Sunday, September 9, 2012. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Are you in favour of the Harper government's new 'family tax cut'?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google