Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 18/13
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
The Mounties are now investigating Senator Pamela Wallin’s “questionable” travel expense claims amounting to more than $140,000.
Wallin, a former TV broadcaster named to the Senate in 2009 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said it was a “fundamentally flawed and unfair” audit of her claims.
A former Canadian consul general to New York, Wallin has been told to pay back tens of thousands of dollars plus interest from among $321,000 in expenses under review.
The audit, which cost taxpayers $126,998, flagged $121,348 in inappropriate expenses and called for further review of nearly $21,000 in additional claims.
“I never intended to seek, nor sought, reimbursement for travel expenses in any situation where I did not believe such a claim was proper," she said.
“Where I made mistakes, I have already paid money back (amounting to $38,000),” said Wallin, a former Conservative senator who is now an Independent.
Former TV news broadcaster, Senator Mike Duffy, who also left the Conservative caucus and became an Independent, has repaid $90,000 in disallowed claims through a “loan” from former Harper chief of staff Nigel Wright.
The Mounties are also looking at Duffy’s claims while audits showed improper housing claims by Senators Patrick Brazeau and Mac Harb.
(For more news of the week, click)
Former media baron Conrad Black is attempting to stay, or put an end to, a long-standing legal battle with the Ontario Securities Commission.
Black, who returned to Toronto last year after serving 37 months in a Florida prison and paying a $125,000 fine for fraud, had his case adjourned to Oct. 21.
The commission alleges Black and directors of Hollinger Inc. and Hollinger International engaged in “a scheme” to receive money from the company through a complicated system of “non-competition” payments.
The case deals with many of the issues covered by U.S. court and regulatory decisions for which Black recently agreed to pay $4.1 million in restitution.
News in brief:
- Canadian Pacific Railway is appealing a Quebec government legal order that it help pay for the cleanup after an oil-tanker train derailment killed 47 people and devastated Lac-Megantic, Quebec last month. CP said it was not involved as the train was handed over in Montreal to the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd. to continue to New Brunswick's Irving refinery. The cleanup of millions of gallons of crude oil could top $200 million, authorities estimated.
- The impact of technology on young people and their interaction with the justice system will be reviewed in the suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, a victim of cyber bulling in Nova Scotia. The provincial government named Murray Segal, a former Ontario chief prosecutor, to conduct the review of the initial investigation by police and judicial officials. Her family said a digital photo of the girl being sexually assaulted was sent to her classmates. Two 18-year-olds were recently arrested after the case was reopened.
Facts and figures:
Canada’s dollar is lower at 96.79 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar is valued at $1.0330 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3 percent.
Stock markets advanced Friday, with the Toronto exchange index at 12,754 points and the TSX Venture index 935 points.
Lotto 6-49: (Aug. 14) 14, 20, 28, 31, 44 and 49; bonus 34. (Aug. 10) 8, 23, 25, 32, 33 and 48; bonus 28. Lotto Max: (Aug. 9) 6, 15, 19, 26, 43, 44 and 49; bonus 30.
- Retired judge Dennis O’Connor will lead the review into the fatal shooting by police of Sammy Yatim, 18, on a Toronto streetcar. Police Chief Bill Blair said O'Connor will review “concerns about our policies and our procedures, the training of our officers and the equipment that they use.” Videos showed nine shots were fired at Yatim who refused to drop a knife.
- Police are re-examining a 53-year-old “cold case” involving a missing 21-month-old girl in the Red Lake area, west of Kamloops, British Columbia. Edna Bette-Jean Masters disappeared without a trace on July 3, 1960 from a friend's house. Investigators plan to use new technology in an effort to generate leads or prompt the missing girl, if she is still alive, to come forward, said Mountie Corporal Cheryl Bush.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com