Tories paying own way for Conservative convention
Senators, MPs footing the bill for attendance at national convention
While questions continue to swirl about the expense claims of three Tory senators, Conservatives attending this weekend's national party convention in Calgary will be paying their own costs.
"Conservative MPs will be paying their own way to attend the Conservative Party National Convention in Calgary," a spokesperson for government whip John Duncan confirmed in an email to CBC News.
According to House of Commons rules, members of Parliament are allowed to be reimbursed for expenses related to national caucus meetings that occur at national conventions. But the Tories are not holding a national caucus meeting in Calgary.
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Tory senators will also be paying their own way to the national convention. But with costs for admission up to $900, and Calgary considered an expensive city, some may be having second thoughts about attending.
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"At this particular time from a financial perspective, the way it's set up this year, I have financial responsibilities in terms of my life and my family and I think my time would be best served doing what I should be doing as a senator," said Conservative Senator Larry Smith, who told CBC News that he hadn't planned on going.
It's also unclear whether the bad press from the Senate scandal may have senators reconsidering their attendance. But former government leader in the Senate Marjory LeBreton insisted that senators have not been told to stay home from the convention.
“No one has been told not to go. That is false,” LeBreton wrote in an email to Global News. “The only concern is whether we will be wrapped up in time in the Senate to catch our flights.”
The various procedural wranglings over debate motions on whether to suspend senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau over their Senate expense claims could mean some Conservative senators will miss the convention.
But Conservative Party president John Walsh told The Canadian Press that approximately 3,000 members are expected to attend Prime Minister Stephen Harper's speech Friday evening — a record turnout for the movement, particularly considering the event was postponed by spring flooding in Alberta.
"Our party is pretty dedicated at our conventions to talking about policy and constitutional amendments, we spend a lot of time in our agenda doing that, and our people are very eager to do that," Walsh said in an interview.
"Our membership is a very loyal membership, they want to come and hear from the prime minister, they want to come and meet caucus members to be able to talk about the issues."
With files from The Canadian Press