We made a mistake: Conservative senator
OTTAWA — A devoted and loyal Conservative senator says he disagrees with the prime minister’s claim that details surrounding the expense scandal in the upper chamber are crystal clear.
“No, I’m sorry, I unfortunately do not,” Sen. Don Plett, when asked whether he held the same opinion as the prime minister, said in an interview on The West Block with Tom Clark.
“If the facts are as clear as they are, then we should have just simply gone ahead with the sanctions and let the RCMP decide whether or not they should investigate … If the facts are clear, we made a mistake sending it to the RCMP.”
Plett delivered a speech to his Senate colleagues last week in which he described how difficult the past few days had been for him, as it marked the first time the former president of the Conservative Party of Canada had ever considered voting against his government.
Government Leader in the Senate Claude Carignan introduced motions last week to suspend Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau without pay as a consequence of allegedly collecting expenses and allowances inappropriately.
The proposed sanctions, taken without fair due process, go against traditional Conservative values, Plett argued.
The long debates on the motions, which have so far stretched over four days, have revealed some division in the Tory caucus, with at least one MP and two senators speaking out against them.
ABOVE: Watch Conservative Senator Marjory LeBreton discuss the motions to suspend, without pay, three colleagues from the upper chamber.
As debate raged on Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper took the unusual step of appearing on a handful of radio shows.
“I think everyone knows that the facts here have been looked into for over a year by the Senate, by audits and by studies,” Harper told NewsTalk 1010 host and former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory. “There is absolutely no doubt what these three senators did.”
Plett argued that if everything was so clear, there was no sense asking the RCMP to investigate Wallin, Duffy and Brazeau, all former members of the Conservative caucus.
READ MORE: Tories divided on Senate motion
“At this point, I believe if the RCMP are doing an investigation, we may or may not need to look at suspension with pay during that period,” he said, arguing that sanction would be much more fair than the offer that’s currently on the table—suspension without pay, benefits or Senate resources until the end of the parliamentary session, which is scheduled to end in 2015.
Plett has said he intends to introduce an amendment to Carignan’s motion, though he won’t divulge any details on it before he has a chance to speak with the leader in the Senate, he said.
Radio-Canada reported Sunday that Carignan is considering altering the motions against his three colleagues.
Conservative Sen. Marjory LeBreton, however, said she disagrees with Plett’s assertion that suspending members of the upper chamber without pay or benefits offends Conservative values.
“That might be a popular view around Ottawa,” she told host Tom Clark on Sunday. “We’re talking about three senators who abused the public trust. They know what they did was wrong, and they’ve caused great difficulty for the institution of Senate and Parliament.”
The goal right now, LeBreton said, is restoring public confidence in the institution.
“We’re simply using the rules as they presently exist to suspend (the three senators),” she said.
© Shaw Media, 2013