OTTAWA – Defiant as ever, Senator Patrick Brazeau maintained his innocence on Wednesday.
“If I did any wrongdoing, of course I’ll pay the money back – but in this case – I did not do anything wrong,” he said.
Global News caught up with Brazeau while he was moving from his Gatineau, Que. home.
It’s a home the Senate says he falsely claimed as his secondary residence, and ordered him to pay back almost $49,000 in living expenses associated with it by last week.
But that didn’t happen, so Senate officials are going to start withholding part of his salary – which was news to Brazeau.
“I haven’t seen no letter, no correspondence, no phone call, haven’t received any phone call saying they’re going to take whatever measures that they feel they will take. So until I get that concrete letter in black and white, obviously I’m going to weigh all options at my disposal,” said Brazeau, dressed in a white t-shirt and wearing a Montreal Expos cap.
Following an audit by Deloitte, a Senate committee determined Brazeau owed more than $48,000 in living expenses and mileage.
The upper chamber will reportedly garnish his wages at a rate of 20 percent per pay period.
The base senator salary is $135,000 – so it could take him almost three years to pay all the money back.
Still, Brazeau feels his expenses were justified.
“When I went back to Manawaki, I claimed – when I didn’t go back, I didn’t claim anything,” he said.
The Deloitte audits found Brazeau met all of the “indicators” set out by the Senate committee to prove his primary residence was in Maniwaki, Que.
And that’s why he feels clawing back his salary isn’t fair.
“Whether somebody’s a senator or somebody else, people don’t have a right to steal money from you for no reason – no justifiable reason.”
It’s worth noting that the deadline for Senator Mac Harb to pay back $230,000 in falsely claimed living expenses is Wednesday.
And while he’s launched a legal challenge in Ontario Superior court, senior Senate sources say they will use all legal means at their disposal to recover taxpayer money.