[Editor's note: This report comes from iPolitics, a top source for independent, non-partisan political scuttlebutt in Canada.]
Former Conservative senator Mike Duffy says he was ordered by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to pay back the $90,000 he owed for expense claims.
He made the comments during his statement to Red Chamber Tuesday. It was the most extensive explanation Canadians have heard from the independent senator since the scandal began nearly a year ago.
Duffy said former leader of the government in the Senate Marjory Lebreton demanded he resign from caucus in May.
"It's the only way to keep your paycheque," she allegedly said.
Duffy also said he met with Harper and his former chief of staff Nigel Wright -- "just the three of them" -- to talk about the expenses.
His comments came after a lengthy speech from Conservative Leader in the Senate Claude Carignan and Liberal Leader in the Senate James Cowan during a debate over a set of motions that would suspend three embattled senators -- Patrick Brazeau, Pamela Wallin and Duffy -- without pay until the end of the session. It would also remove their ability to use their office staff or claim housing and travel claims.
Debate continues tomorrow
The prime minister has repeatedly and consistently said he was not aware of any repayment plan between Duffy and Wright. This allegation directly implicates the prime minister in the Senate expense scandal.
NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus said the prime minister has some explaining to do. The fact that Wright and Harper had to meet with Duffy, he said, shows the Conservatives were no longer standing by him and had to work out a plan.
"The PM has been deliberately vague, deliberately obfuscating on the issues throughout, and as we find more and more names added to the list of who knew, he really does need to stand up and account for himself," he said.
After the Senate adjourned for the day -- the debate continues Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. EST -- Cowan told reporters that Duffy made some "troubling comments" and allegations that the Senate needs to get to the bottom of.
"Those people that he referred to need an opportunity to respond," Cowan said. "They don't have an opportunity to appear in the Senate chamber to defend themselves, to explain themselves," he added.
While Cowan supports imposing sanctions on the embattled senators, he does not feel a motion suspending them without a hearing is the right course of action. Instead, Cowan proposed a subsidiary motion to send the issue to the Senate committee on rights and procedure. The committee would be responsible for releasing a report based on hearings with key players, including Brazeau and potentially the prime minister.
During the debate, Carignan spent nearly two hours reviewing the basis for the motions to have the three former Conservative senators -- Brazeau, Wallin and Duffy -- suspended for "gross negligence." Now all independents, they have been the focus of an ongoing expense claim scandal for nearly a year. Although they are being investigated by the RCMP, none have been charged.
for the full iPolitics report, go here.
Read more: Politics, Federal Politics
Tyee Commenting Guidelines
Comments that violate guidelines risk being deleted, and violations may result in a temporary or permanent user ban. Maintain the spirit of good conversation to stay in the discussion.
*Please note The Tyee is not a forum for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, denying its existence or minimizing its risk to public health.