OTTAWA – Canada’s auditor general plans to review every senator’s expenses amid a firestorm over improper claims.
“We’re still going through our planning phase, but certainly our intention is to look at all the senators,” Michael Ferguson said in an interview Thursday.
Members of the Senate’s internal economy committee voted in June to invite Ferguson’s office to audit senators’ expenses. The call came as the Senate was awash in controversy, after Senators Mac Harb, Patrick Brazeau and Mike Duffy had their living and housing allowances subject to an independent audit.
Following the audits, the Senate ordered the trio to repay tens of thousands of dollars in what were deemed wrongly collected allowances.
Since then, the auditors released their review of Sen. Pamela Wallin’s travel expenses. The Senate consequently ordered her to repay more than $120,000.
Ferguson’s office tabled an audit of the Senate’s administration in June 2012, which offered a glimpse into the problems plaguing the upper chamber.
In that report, he found there was insufficient documentation surrounding senators’ housing allowance, travel and living claims.
This time around, the audit will be much more involved and detailed.
“Now, what we’re going to be doing is looking at individual senators, the claims of individual senators and going through those on a specific basis,” he said.
Although the scope of the review is becoming more clear, the timing is still up in the air.
Ferguson’s office has identified the staff that will conduct the audits, so he expects to begin the auditing process soon.
The audit will follow the methodology used for performance audits, which can take up to 18 months.
Those conducting the audit may, however, release findings as they go.
“We haven’t come to that decision yet, but we understand that people don’t want to wait 18 months to get all the information,” he said. “So if there’s any way that we can do some interim reporting, we will do that.”
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