14 senators swept up in expenses scandal learn what they must pay back today

Fourteen senators who chose arbitration over their ineligible expenses will find out this morning how much money, if any, they will have to pay back to the Senate.

Senators would have 30 days to pay back expenses or face legal action

Retired Supreme Court of Canada Justice Ian Binnie delivers his report today on the 14 senators who decided to resolve their expense claims by arbitration. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Fourteen senators find out this morning how much money they will have to pay back to the Senate, if they will have to pay anything at all.

Former supreme court justice Ian Binnie delivers his report to the Senate Board of Internal Economy today detailing his decisions on each of the 14 Senators who decided to resolve their disputed expenses by arbitration.

The process began when Auditor General Michael Ferguson found 30 legislators in the Red Chamber claimed for almost a million dollars in expenses that were against the rules, 

The senators caught up in the audit were given the opportunity to resolve their disputed claims through an arbitration process.

This process was not available to former Conservative senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin, who were then under suspension from the Senate over their own questionable expenses, when Binnie was appointed as arbiter. 

Fourteen of the 30 senators ultimately decided to resolve their cases through the arbitration process. They are waiting to see how much if anything they will have to pay back. The amounts owed range from a few thousand dollars to almost $200,000.

Conservative senator Pierre-Hughes Boisvenu was told he owed $61,076. He paid back about $908 so far; as for the rest, he's waiting for Binnie's report.

"I think that Mr. Binnie did a very good job," the senator told CBC News last week. "He was, I think, effective and we had plenty of time to present our defence."

Restitution

Binnie will give each of the 14 senators an individual report this morning. He will also hand in an overall summary to the Senate Board of Internal Economy with his final decision on all 14 cases. 

In addition to Boisvenu, the other 13 senators who chose arbitration are:

  • Jean-Guy Dagenais
  • Joseph A. Day
  • Colin Kenny
  • Sandra M. Lovelace Nicholas
  • Terry M. Mercer
  • Pana Merchant
  • Lowell Murray
  • Dennis Glen Patterson
  • Robert W. Peterson
  • Donald Neil Plett
  • Nick G. Sibbeston
  • Terry Stratton
  • David Tkachuk

The chair of the Senate Board of Internal Economy, which oversees all spending in the Senate, is Senator Leo Housakos. He is expected to react to Binnie's report later today.

Once the report is public, all of the senators will have 30 days to pay back any outstanding amounts.

If they do not, sitting members will have their wages docked and legal action will be taken against retired senators.

Those who chose not to participate in the Senate arbitration process will be pursued for any outstanding money they owe, which could result in garnisheed wages.

About the Author

Susan Lunn

Susan Lunn has been covering politics in Ottawa since 2002. She has a special interest in health and the environment.

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