Manitoba

Senate expenses scandal: Voters in Conservative ridings react

The ongoing controversy over Senate expense claims has some voters in Conservative strongholds thinking about how they would vote next time.

Reaction to Senate scandal

8 years ago
2:30
The CBC's Cameron MacIntosh gauges reaction to the Senate expenses scandal in the longtime Conservative riding of Provencher, Man. 2:30

The ongoing controversy over Senate expense claims has some voters in Conservative strongholds thinking about how they would vote next time.

The controversy has exploded this week with remarks by Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau, who are fighting potential suspensions from the upper chamber.

After a lengthy debate on Wednesday, the Senate adjourned before a vote could be taken to suspend Wallin, Duffy and Brazeau, all without pay.

The debate will resume Thursday, the last sitting day for the Senate this week.

With many political analysts debating how the scandal is playing out, some voters in Steinbach, a city in the southern Manitoba riding of Provencher, say the controversy is giving them something to think about.

"I care what's going on, yes. I just haven't come to a verdict yet, so I'm still thinking about it," said one woman in Steinbach.

A longtime Conservative stronghold, Provencher was the home base of former public safety minister Vic Toews, who retired from politics in July.

A byelection has been called for Nov. 25 in Provencher and Brandon-Souris, another Manitoba riding that has long been Conservative territory.

"It's hard to change habits and it [the riding] will probably, I would say, remain Conservative. But people will have second thoughts about what they're doing," said one man in Steinbach.

In Saskatchewan, where Wallin is a household name and the Conservatives hold all but one seat in the House of Commons, opinions on the Senate scandal were also split.

Harper 'a man of his word,' says ex-MP

In Prime Minister Stephen Harper's home city of Calgary, former Progressive Conservative MP Jim Hawkes said he believes voters are more inclined to believe Harper over Wallin, Brazeau or Duffy.

"He's a man of his word," Hawkes said of Harper. "Not only does he aspire to honesty, but knowledge."

Still, some political observers say for a prime minister who came to power promising accountability, transparency and Senate reform, Harper has some work to do.

"Harper came into power, bear in mind, in response to the Liberal sponsorship scandal," said Duane Bratt, a policy studies professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary.

"They brought in a bunch of ethics changes and they were to be the party of Mr. Clean."

Said Royce Koop, an assistant professor of political studies at the University of Manitoba, "The question is: is there more stuff coming that's going to add to a cumulative effect that's going to hurt the Tories' reputation in terms of competence, in terms of honesty in governance?

"That's the real question, I think."

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