Senate suspends Wallin, Duffy, Brazeau

OTTAWA—Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau were all suspended from the Senate Tuesday, when an overwhelming majority of their colleagues voted to leave them jobless and without pay.

RELATED : How they voted

In quick succession, the three votes took place after nine long days of impassioned debate in the upper chamber. During that time, senators on both sides of the floor expressed frustration and hesitation at the prospect of suspending the three former Conservatives at the heart of the Senate spending scandal—all appointees of Prime Minister Stephen Harper who had become political liabilities after being accused of together collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in inappropriate expenses.

Video: Liberal senate leader James Cowan calls process a sham following suspension votes

Emotions ran high Tuesday night, after 50 senators voted to suspend him, Brazeau stormed out of the chamber without saying a word to the horde of media waiting outside. The 29 who voted against the suspension motion and the 13 who abstained weren’t enough to allow the embattled senator to keep his seat.

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Video: Wallin and Brazeau react following suspension

Duffy only showed up twice during the debates that stretched far past dark on many nights. But when he did, he made explosive allegations, dragging the Prime Minister’s Office and the Conservative party into the scandal with him.

The former broadcaster, whose residency became a contentious issue late last year, wasn’t there Tuesday to watch 52 of his colleagues stand in favour of his suspension, while 28 voted against it and 11 abstained.

Wallin was the senator who was most present throughout the long and sometimes heated debates. Tuesday night, as she sat in her seat for the last time, her hands clasped on the desk, she looked around the room as most of her colleagues—52 of them—voted to suspend her. Only 27 voted against the motion, including one of her fiercest defenders, Conservative Senator Hugh Segal. Wallin was among the 12 senators who abstained from the vote.

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On her way out of the chamber for the last time in at least two years she stopped to have a brief word with the government leader in the Senate, Claude Carignan, the man behind the motions to suspend her and her two colleagues.

Video: Senate majority leader Claude Carignan defends suspensions of 3 senators. 

Once she made it outside of the Senate, Wallin stopped briefly to thank some of her former colleagues.

“I just want to thank all of those senators today who voted with their conscience, and for those who abstained because they felt that this process was flawed,” Wallin told reporters, her voice beginning to shake. “I think it’s an extremely sad day for democracy. If we can’t expect the rule of law in Canada, then where on Earth can we expect it?”

Wallin, also a former broadcaster, was kicked out on account of travel expenses she claimed over her nearly five years as a senator for Saskatchewan.

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The debates that gripped the upper chamber for two weeks exposed division among the Conservative caucus, even as the prime minister made repeated calls for harsh sanctions against Wallin, Brazeau and Duffy.

The three former members of the Conservative caucus will retain some medical benefits and their life insurance, but are barred from the upper chamber or collecting a paycheque for the duration of the parliamentary session, scheduled to last another two years.

Almost immediately after the Senate handed down the unprecedented sanctions Tuesday, Harper’s office issued a statement commending their Senate caucus for passing the suspension motions.

“Removing these three senators from the public payroll was the right thing to do,” the statement read. “They should not be collecting a public paycheque.”

Carignan, the Conservative leader in the Senate, said the successful passing of his motions was a mission accomplished.

“When we establish patterns of misconduct with inappropriate expenses, we need to take an action,” he said. “It is our responsibility to maintain the confidence of the public in this institution. Now was the first step.”

But not all Conservatives felt so well after the votes.

Segal was the only Conservative to vote against all three motions to suspend.

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“The Conservative party is full of people with different views. There wasn’t much of a difference tonight,” he said. “But for all those in the Conservative party across Canada who do believe in due process and the rule of law … I hope, I tried to speak for them.”

Since debate launched two weeks ago, Conservative Senator Don Plett had publicly raised concerns about whether the proposed sanctions were within the powers of the Senate and whether the three besieged senators were being afforded due process.

Early on, the former president of the Conservative party told his colleagues he was having an emotionally difficult time dealing with the fact he was, for the first time ever, considering voting against his government.

He abstained from all three votes Tuesday night.

Leaving the chamber after the votes, a visibly frustrated Plett, speaking in a raised voice, said his abstentions did not infer a change in values or principles.

“There is no point continuing to fight when the battle is over,” he said. “That battle was over. I took it as far as I could. I could do nothing more and I appreciate the colleagues that stood up with me.”