Senator's hometown unlikely to ditch 'Home of Pamela Wallin' sign
Despite this week's bombshell audit of a Saskatchewan senator, there is no movement to remove the "Home of Pamela Wallin" sign on the outskirts of her hometown, says Wadena's acting mayor Ashley Kolach.
Although a local resident submitted that idea to a section of the Wadena News called "Roses and Raspberries", it is not a widely held sentiment, Kolach said.
"That's one person's opinion. That's not the consensus of the whole community," said Kolach, adding that it's never been brought to town council.
Alison Squires, editor of the Wadena News, told CBC News most people in the town are "sort of incensed that anyone would suggest" getting rid of the sign.
Wadena also has a street named after Wallin.
Many still defend senator
Still, there has been mixed reaction in the town of 1,500, and many residents are torn over old loyalties to Wallin and reluctant to criticize the town's favourite daughter.
At Kuroki Beach, Fishing Lake, where Wallin has a cabin, Myrna Daviduk defended Wallin.
"Pam is a great woman and she's been a good honest woman all these years. So I can't see her not doing this properly, you know?"
Wallin said her mistakes were unintentional and she never tried to mislead the auditors.
Giving benefit of the doubt
Wadena resident Anna Griller is giving her the benefit of the doubt.
"I have a really hard time believing that she would deliberately mislead. My personal feeling is that quite likely the expense reports were filled out for her ... rather than her doing it herself. "
On top of the $121,348 of ineligible or questionable expense claims, many people are disturbed to find that Wallin spends more time in Toronto than she does in Ottawa or Saskatchewan.
Between January 2009 and September 2012, Wallin spent 35 per cent of her time in Toronto, compared to 27 per cent and 22 per cent in Saskatchewan and Ottawa, respectively.
Wallin's primary residency was not at issue in this audit, but the report also shows, Wallin did not have a Saskatchewan health card or file her taxes in her home province as of January 2013.
A few months after that date, however, Wallin's staff said she had a Saskatchewan health card.
Public money for Wadena trips
The auditors also reported that, on more than one occasion, Wallin used public money for rental cars to visit Wadena for personal reasons.
It's well known around town that Wallin doesn't live in Wadena, but often visits her elderly father and sick mother.
"If a person makes that kind of money, she should be able to pay her own [car]", said Mary Miller on mainstreet Wadena.
At a local tire shop, Tyler Mahre says he's angry that Wallin using tax dollars for what he deems family vacations, not commutes to her actual home.
"It's not right that she's using taxpayer money to travel back to see her family — that should be on her own bill," Mahre said.
In June, Wallin wrote a letter to the Wadena News apologizing to her town for the negative attention.
"I'm very embarrassed that the people of my hometown, who so generously named a street after me, have had to go through all of this," she said.
Kolach said Wadena has done great things for the community over the past 30 years and this "spectacle" does not warrant any signs to be removed.