Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hard questions

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper has stated publicly he believes the $90,000 payment his former chief of staff made to get Sen. Mike Duffy out of debt over housing expenses was just plain wrong. Mr. Harper said Wednesday had he known of it, he would have put a stop to it.

Good. Now the Senate, specifically its internal economy committee, must answer some hard questions. It was revealed that its report on Mr. Duffy, which came down much lighter on him than for two other senators who also wrongly claimed housing expenses, was edited before release. Among the passages erased was a critical paragraph casting doubt on Mr. Duffy's belief that his P.E.I. cottage was his primary residence, even though he lived most of the time in Ottawa.

The allegation is that the committee agreed to go easy on Mr. Duffy once Nigel Wright gave $90,000 to Mr. Duffy to pay his expenses. Now that same committee has been asked to review the matter again, along with expenses Mr. Duffy claimed for Senate business while apparently working on the party's election campaign.

Canadians may get more satisfaction from the RCMP's review of the matter. Until the committee explains its editing of the report, its integrity is in question, adding to the cynicism with which Canadians regard the Red Chamber.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 23, 2013 A14

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