Senators still owe $528K in ineligible expenses as repayments trickle in
Emails raise new questions about Senator Colin Kenny's use of Senate resources
Senators flagged by the auditor general for filing ineligible expenses still owe in excess of $528K as the deadline for repayment fast approaches.
Eight more senators now have cut a cheque to the Receiver General to repay funds, including those who had their files reviewed by retired Supreme Court Justice Ian Binnie.
Conservative Senators Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, Terry Stratton, Dennis Patterson, Jean-Guy Dagenais and David Tkachuk — the former chairman of the Senate committee that oversaw the spending rules — and Liberal Senators Colin Kenny, Sandra Lovelace Nicholas and Nick Sibbeston have repaid more than $120,000 as of Tuesday. They join six others who repaid money earlier this month.
And yet some of the senators who were fingered for misspending are still on the hook for considerable amounts.
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The other senators who still owe monies are all retired, including Sharon Carstairs, Marie Charette-Poulin, Rose-Marie Losier-Cool, Don Oliver, Bill Rompkey, Gerry St. Germain and Rod Zimmer.
The Senate said it is considering legal action to collect those funds.
"The deadline for repayment or to make arrangements for repayment is April 22, 2016. The Senate has every expectation that each senator will reimburse or make arrangements for the money owing by that time," a Senate spokesperson told CBC News.
"However, if they fail to do so, the Senate will be left with no choice but to take the appropriate action at that time, including setting-off of wages or legal action," the spokesperson said.
New questions for Kenny
While he has repaid money owing, Kenny is now facing new allegations of Senate resources abuse.
E-mails obtained by CBC News reveal Kenny was using parliamentary staff to help run his private business, a tanning salon in Ottawa.
"We are out of disinfectant for the beds/goggles," one email from 2010 reads. Another email suggests Senate staff were involved in day-to-day operations at the business.
"I did tan cards this morning and went through all the Aug. sales to identify what we owed Jeff," it reads.
Another e-mail shows a staffer worked as a sort of project manager for renovations being done at the senator's private residence.
Binnie, who reviewed Kenny's expenses as part of his arbitration, said he found the Ontario senator's expenses the most problematic.
The former top court judge said it was clear the purpose of some of his travel was not for parliamentary business, but rather for personal activities such as dining with journalists, meeting family, buying "Eskimo carvings," or having a suit fitted.
"There is an artificiality about many of those trips," Binnie said. "He essentially made and pursued his own Senate agenda at public expense."
With files from CBC's Brigitte Bureau and Tom Parry