Posted August 14, 2013
The case of the iconic Pamela Wallin, who went from prison social worker to Canadian Senator with a few stops along the way in journalism, proves the old saying that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
Tinkering with her calendar and returning some money to the Senate accountants is tacit evidence there is trouble in Wallinland. Her colleagues on the Senate committee investigating the breaches of expense rules decided that the Senator from Saskatchewan (with frequent stops in her Toronto condo) could no longer claim any expenses except for travel to her home province.
On top of that, her audited file has been turned over the RCMP for investigation relating to criminal charges.
Ms. Wallin joins Senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Mac Harb on the Mounties list of members of the Chamber of Sober Second Thought being investigated for conspiracy and fraud.
It would be ironic that Ms. Wallin would wind up behind bars instead of being in front of them.
The local angle of course, is that as Chancellor of the University of Guelph, Ms. Wallin charged her Senate expense card $2,011 to travel to address a university convocation. Her explanation was she was on Senate business. Now that’s chutzpah!
What happens to people who feel they are entitled to rip off the public purse?
One might ask about our members of city council who travel at public expense to conventions, trade shows and visits outside the country. Are they conducting the city business?
One trip that comes to mind occurred in 2007 when the Mayor, her husband and her mentor Ken Hammill, and his spouse, traveled to Italy to visit a city that was twinned with Guelph. The purpose, stated at the time, aside from the peremptory glad-handing, was to promote foreign investment in Guelph.
The cost to the taxpayers was never revealed. Nor were there any tangible results of the trip announced then or since.
With a resounding majority of her supporters on the newly elected council, the Mayor must have felt the flush of power and entitlement to make the decision to go to Italy.
Perhaps now is the time for the Mayor, who has commissioned $100,000 to a Toronto consultant to create an “open government” plan for the city, to open the expense claims of both staff and elected officials for public scrutiny.
Taxpayers have a right to know the details of elected official’s expense accounts. A good start would be right in the Mayor’s office and how much that trip to Italy cost.
Do you get the feeling the “open government” consultant won’t touch that with a barge pole?
Or is this an issue for the Integrity Commissioner?