Harper faces questions about Senate expense scandal in House of Commons

PM Harper
The Prime Minister's Office is playing down expectations that Canada and the European Union will sign a long-awaited, free-trade deal while Stephen Harper is in Europe next week for the G8 summit. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

TORONTO – Prime Minister Stephen Harper is facing some tough questions from opposition leaders during Question Period Tuesday.

This is Harper’s first appearance in the House of Commons since his chief of staff, Nigel Wright, resigned over his role in the Senate spending scandal.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that Wright cut a personal cheque for $90,000 to Senator Mike Duffy.

Wright has since resigned and Duffy has quit the Conservative caucus.

Meanwhile, a Senate committee that wants to take a sober second look at Duffy’s expenses after it was revealed the committee’s first report went easier on him is set to meet Tuesday.

READ MORE: Tory senator moved motion to revise Duffy’s expense report; Liberals demand answers

A Tory source said Conservative senators will move to open the meeting of the Internal Economy committee to the public, a move originally suggested by the Liberals. The initial meeting, which saw a draft report about Duffy’s expenses altered following a motion proposed by Conservative senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen, took place behind closed doors.

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On Monday, opposition politicians failed to get substantive answers to their questions on the Senate expense scandal.

Harper was not in Parliament as he typically skips the Monday session of question period. In an email, a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister’s Office said Harper “will follow his business as usual approach to QP this week.”

That “approach” is usually Tuesday to Thursday  – with Harper typically absent from question period on Mondays and Fridays.

Speaking in Peru last week, Harper said he was not aware of his right-hand man bailing out Duffy and that he would have never have agreed to the deal had he known about it.

“I was not consulted, I was not asked to sign off on any such thing,” he said.

During yesterday’s session, Heritage Minister James Moore deflected a barrage of questions, pointing out that an NDP MP recently admitted owing almost $60,000 in back taxes.

–          With files from Laura Stone, Global News