Politics

10 senators to be referred to RCMP, Auditor General Michael Ferguson says

Auditor General Michael Ferguson says he will recommend that 10 of the senate expense cases investigated by his office be referred to the RCMP.

Audits have found questionable spending in 30 expense cases

AG says he'll recommend RCMP investigate senators

8 years ago
Duration 2:35
Auditor General Michael Ferguson says 30 senators have problematic spending and some should be investigated by the RCMP.

Auditor General Michael Ferguson says he will recommend that 10 of the senate expense cases investigated by his office be referred to the RCMP.

Ferguson told Evan Solomon, host of CBC News Network's Power & Politics, in an interview Tuesday that his office has turned up 30 cases of problematic spending — and that some of those cases should be investigated by the RCMP.

Ferguson later clarified to CBC News that the number of senators facing possible investigation by the RCMP is about 10.

Ferguson's much-anticipated report into senate expenses will be released next week. His office has been conducting a review of current and former senators' expenses over the past two years.

"We'll deliver the report later next week then the Senate will have to go through their process," Ferguson told CBC News after his Power & Politics interview.

"It may be the week after before they actually get it tabled and before we can speak to it."

Officials from Senate Speaker Leo Housakos' office agreed it could take anywhere from hours to days before the report is ready to be made public. That can only be done after it has been tabled in the Senate.

Ghislain Desjardins, a spokesman for Ferguson, could not confirm whether or not names of specific senators would be presented in the report.

Ferguson also spent Tuesday defending his office's own expenses, in particular the more than $20,000 spent on team-building exercises around Ottawa over the past four years.

"What we think we get from it is more engaged employees, more efficient teams and it helps us retain our employees because it helps them understand that we appreciate what they do," said Ferguson. 

"I have no problem with the fact that people want to ask questions. They want to know why we incurred these expenses and I have to answer those."

Senators to be offered arbitration 

Earlier Tuesday, Senate Speaker Housakos announced Ian Binnie, the retired supreme court justice, as the special arbiter between the Auditor General and Senators.

He'll be responsible with negotiating any disputes that come out of Ferguson's report. Housakos confirmed that all cases can be brought to the new arbiter.

"Arbitration will be available to senators, both current and former, who disagree with the findings of the auditor general," Housakos told reporters.

"Any case where there are disagreements will have the arbitration, including those referred to the RCMP."

Senators have been preparing themselves for the results of the audit since RCMP launched investigations into the spending habits of suspended Senator Mike Duffy and three of his Senate colleagues: suspended senators Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin and retired senator Mac Harb.

Duffy's trial is currently on three-week break. He is facing 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery. Duffy has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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