Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tsk, tsk, tsk...Oh Pamela!

Now that summer is over and "normal" is what we're supposed to be getting back to, after the "dog days" that is, it's time to resume our daily lives and adjust back to the weird and whacky world that we live in. That world includes endless Middle East problems, world economic uncertainty, (also ongoing) and, of course, the standard political scandals.

            I am fairly certain that ever since politicians first came upon the scene, so many years ago, scandals would have followed soon after. One of the most recent Canadian political scandals involves one of Saskatchewan's own, former journalist and Canadian Senator, Pamela Wallin.

            If you are like me and you have been ignoring the news for the past couple of months in an effort to not put a damper on an easy, breezy summer, Senator Wallin has been embroiled in the Senate Expense Scandal that included three other Canadian Senators, most notably, another former journalist, Mike Duffy, among them. Senators Wallin and Duffy have been audited for ineligible expense claims and both have been ordered to pay back large sums of money for the ineligible claims.

            In Pamela Wallin’s case, the auditors flagged $121,348 in inappropriate expenses and the Senate committee later determined Wallin owed another $17,621, bringing her total tab to $138,969. She has until the 16th of September to pay it back before the Senate garnishes her wages, should she miss the deadline. Wallin has already repaid a portion of the funds owed and has promised to reimburse any disallowed expenses out of her own pocket, with interest.

            How big of you, Pam! To her credit though, Senator Wallin, she is still a Senator by the way, has taken responsibility for the wrongful claims and hasn’t shifted the blame to an underling or an accountant or some such person and says that she signed the claims and ultimately the buck, (or many bucks, as it were), stops at her. Wallin says that she made some "mistakes" with her expense claims and will make full restitution on her "mistakes". "Mistakes?" That's $139,000.00 worth of mistakes!

            Her defense was a good offense as she lashed out that the Deliotte audit was “fundamentally flawed and unfair” as the auditors were using old criteria to determine if any of her claims, old or new, were eligible and all of the claims in question were travel expenses only. Also, Wallin has stated that her expenses were approved by the Senate Finance Committee so some responsibility had to be given to the people approving the expenses in the first place. Point taken.

            I’m not sure how the Senate communicates their processes to each and every Senator but Wallin seems to have missed a few memos as her travel claims have been sketchy from the moment she was first appointed in December of 2008. Either she honestly didn’t know she was submitting false claims or she was hoping that a “fundamentally flawed and unfair” audit, or otherwise, would have missed them altogether.        

            Pamela Wallin is an Officer of the Order of Canada, having received Canada's highest civilian honour in 2007, and receiving the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 1999.She has fourteen Honorary Doctorates and among many other honors, she has been named to the Canadian Broadcasting Hall of Fame, she received a national Visionary Award in Canada, and has been recognized four times by Queen Elizabeth II for her public service and achievements.

            It's not easy, in this jaded world, to believe any politician isn't just covering their derrière and it certainly doesn't look great for Senator Wallin but I am going to reserve final judgement until after an RCMP investigation in to the whole sordid affair is completed.

            "A British politician is usually caught with his hand up a woman's skirt while a Canadian politician is usually caught with his hand in the till." - Sun Media columnist Valerie Gibson.


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