May 26, 2019

Winnipeg
13° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

No charges for senators with questionable expense claims

LIAM RICHARDS / CANADIAN PRESS FILES</p><p>Senator Rod Zimmer </p>

LIAM RICHARDS / CANADIAN PRESS FILES

Senator Rod Zimmer

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/3/2016 (1166 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — The five current and former Manitoba senators whose expense claims were flagged as inappropriate by the auditor general last year will not face criminal charges.

The RCMP decided to review the expense claims of all 30 senators identified by Auditor General Michael Ferguson last June as having filed improper expense claims. The Globe and Mail reported today 24 of those 30 senators have now been told by the RCMP there was no evidence found to lay any charges.

That includes the five Manitobans: former Liberals Sharon Carstairs and Rod Zimmer; former Conservative Terry Stratton; and current Conservatives Don Plett and Janis Johnson.

A spokeswoman for Johnson confirmed she received a letter from the RCMP telling her upon completing a review of her expenses from the audit, the police had concluded there was no further action warranted. The spokeswoman said she couldn't say when Johnson received the letter.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 30 days

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/3/2016 (1166 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — The five current and former Manitoba senators whose expense claims were flagged as inappropriate by the auditor general last year will not face criminal charges.

The RCMP decided to review the expense claims of all 30 senators identified by Auditor General Michael Ferguson last June as having filed improper expense claims. The Globe and Mail reported today 24 of those 30 senators have now been told by the RCMP there was no evidence found to lay any charges.

That includes the five Manitobans: former Liberals Sharon Carstairs and Rod Zimmer; former Conservative Terry Stratton; and current Conservatives Don Plett and Janis Johnson.

A spokeswoman for Johnson confirmed she received a letter from the RCMP telling her upon completing a review of her expenses from the audit, the police had concluded there was no further action warranted. The spokeswoman said she couldn't say when Johnson received the letter.

Plett refused comment to the Free Press today. Carstairs has not responded to several requests for comment and Stratton and Zimmer could not be reached. Several people told the Free Press recently Zimmer's health has taken a serious turn. He retired from the Senate in 2013 owing to health issues.

The RCMP won’t confirm anything.

"Generally, only in the event that an investigation results in the laying of criminal charges would the RCMP confirm its investigation, the nature of any charges laid and the identity of the individuals involved," wrote Cpl. Valerie Thibodeau in an email to the Free Press.

Zimmer was said to owe the most of the group, at $176,014. That amount includes $47,132 for a secondary residence they argue was really his primary home, and $102,524 for travel to Winnipeg with his wife for non-Senate business. Zimmer has never spoken publicly about the audit, but in his written reply to Ferguson's audit, he blasted the auditor general for wading into the legal system and passing judgment about the rules for secondary-residence claims when those claims were before the court in the fraud trial against Sen. Mike Duffy.

The verdict in the Duffy case is expected next month.

COURTNEY CAMPBELL / FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Senator Sharon Carstairs </p>

COURTNEY CAMPBELL / FREE PRESS FILES

Senator Sharon Carstairs

Carstairs is said to owe $7,528 for 61 days she claimed a secondary residence in Ottawa, as well as a trip to Winnipeg the auditor said shouldn't have been allowed as an expense. Like Zimmer, Carstairs wrote in the audit report she had done nothing wrong. She said the Senate had no rules about how many days one had to spend at their primary residence to qualify for secondary-residence claims in Ottawa. Ferguson said Carstairs did not spend enough time in Manitoba to warrant referring to it as her primary home.

Initially, Carstairs decided to take the situation to the Senate's offered binding-arbitration process with former Supreme Court justice Ian Binnie, but later backed off and plans to fight the claims she owes the money.

Plett repaid $2,975 of $4,095 identified as faulty claims. He said his office discovered two personal trips had been claimed in error. He owes another $1,120 for three other trips he said were Senate business. He did go to binding arbitration. Binnie has completed his report and it is expected to be made public Monday.

Stratton repaid $59.98 of $5,466 for two trips to Calgary with his wife the auditor said weren't for Senate business. Stratton said one trip was Senate business, and the other he said can be covered off by the savings he gave the Senate by retiring two weeks before he was required to do so. He chose binding arbitration to deal with the money he is still said to owe.

Johnson repaid $22,706, the amount the auditors claimed she falsely charged taxpayers for seven personal trips to Vancouver. Although Johnson said she had done nothing wrong, she said she decided to repay the money to restore honour to the Senate and get on with doing the work she was sent there to do.

Once Binnie’s report is made public, any senators who still owe money — including Carstairs and Zimmer, who did not ask Binnie to arbitrate their cases — will have 30 days to pay.

If they don’t, the Senate will take action to recoup the money, including garnishing salaries from sitting senators and taking legal action against those who have left the Senate.

The 30 senators named in Ferguson's audit do not include Duffy, Patrick Brazeau, Pamela Wallin or Mac Harb. Duffy, Brazeau and Wallin were all kicked out of the Conservative caucus after their expense claims were questioned; Duffy and Brazeau have both been charged.

Duffy's trial concluded last month and the verdict is expected April 21. Brazeau's trial has yet to begin. An RCMP investigation into Wallin is ongoing but no charges have been laid.

Harb, a Liberal, left the Senate after questions about his expenses arose, mainly around his claims for a secondary residence. He was also charged with fraud and is awaiting trial.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

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

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

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

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us