Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Wallin weakens trust

  • Print
Senator Pamela Wallin speaks to reporters outside a Senate committee hearing on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday.

PATRICK DOYLE / THE CANADIAN PRESS Enlarge Image

Senator Pamela Wallin speaks to reporters outside a Senate committee hearing on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday.

Senator Pamela Wallin filed a travel and expense claim for attending a speaking engagement in Toronto in 2009. The only problem was her flight arrived four hours after the start of the event for the Institute of Corporate Directors. Worse, she didn't address the crowd of high rollers because she wasn't on the agenda.

There might be a good explanation for this and other similar anomalies in her expense filings -- she claims she may have attended the event later in the evening and that she probably got the year mixed up with another year in which she did speak -- but she will have to explain it all to the RCMP.

Ms. Wallin has a lot of explaining to do after the auditing firm Deloitte discovered she wrongly billed nearly $122,000 in travel expenses over a three-year period that must be repaid, with another $21,000 subject to interpretation and further review.

Among other things, it portrays the senator from Saskatchewan as suffering from an inappropriate sense of entitlement and privilege, frequently unable to separate her private and public roles.

Her defence that the rules changed since she filed the questionable expenses is disingenuous, since the basic rules of Senate administration did not change significantly.

The Senate committee on internal economy has referred the case to RCMP, while restricting her right to travel on the public dime, but it's hard to see how she can carry out any of her duties under the current cloud of suspicion.

She says she wants to serve the public, but the best way to do that would be to resign and set an example for others.

It's an understatement to say the audit of her travel expenses is highly disturbing and disappointing, just the latest in a series of blows to public confidence in the Senate and elected officials in general.

The Senate scandals are not a justification for abolishing the Red Chamber -- although that always remains an option -- but they point to the need for still greater oversight and clearer rules.

Cynics might recommend regular forensic audits on every public official, but such a system would be impractical and destructive if it turned good people away from public service.

Ultimately the system only works if public officials are committed to exercising sound judgment when spending taxpayer funds on travel, hotels, meals and other eligible expenses.

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 August 14, 2013 A8

History

Updated on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 6:57 AM CDT: adds photo

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

Body pulled from river is missing 15-year-old girl

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • June 25, 2013 - 130625  -  A storm lit up Winnipeg Tuesday, June 25, 2013. John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press - lightning
  • Young goslings are growing up quickly near Cresent Lake in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba- See Bryksa 30 Day goose project- Day 11- May 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What do you think of the new Blue Bombers uniforms?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google