Well, Canadians can rest easy because it doesn’t look like Pamela Wallin spent any of her senatorial pot o’ gold on a publicist. I’m pretty sure a publicist would have said (screamed?) “Don’t do an interview with Peter Mansbridge,” or anyone for that matter.
But you know how the urge to get the “truth” out in front of the “people” can drive you.
Even though it was a softball, low lobbing interview (shame on you, Mr. Mansbridge), it sharpened her image as a self-absorbed, I-can-do-no-wrong narcissist. Yes, I know those are categorically the same thing but it bears repeating in various forms.
The amount of money over a certain period of time keeps changing in the articles I read, so let’s just say Ms. Wallin spent $350,000 over a 24 month period in travel alone.
That’s $3365 a week. That’s more money than I and most Canadians earn in a month. On average Ms. Wallin spent that in one week.
She falls on her sword and takes responsibility for the expense reporting but I’m pretty sure the sword was one of those movie ones that retract. She says she “should have gone over it [her expenses] with a fine tooth comb.” With the level of accountability that senators are held to, she could have used a comb with four out of every five teeth missing and her result would have been the same.
One of her deflections was that she felt she needed to be out there, Doing Things, not sitting behind a desk. When she threw out “When the prime minister asks you to go to Afghanistan,” the penny dropped for me. Of course, that has to be where most of the money went: she went to Afghanistan and she picked up the cost of the cargo/troop plane that flew her there. Makes perfect sense—easy to miss the difference between the cost of an Air Canada flight from Ontario to Saskatchewan, and a troop flight to Afghanistan. Simple mistake. Now, do we have to start auditing the Ministry of Defense and Peter MacKay?
Another favourite was “I don’t charge my per diems in many, many cases if I’m sitting on airplanes.” Such a sacrifice but she doesn’t have to purchase the inflight bagged ham sandwich because the gourmet meal comes with her first/business class ticket.
And by that comment does she mean that she charges the per diems when she is on some airplanes? That it’s noon somewhere so I should claim that meal? I wonder if the per diem has a cap or if it’s calculated for each time zone. Let’s see, it’s now 12:01 AM in Newfoundland, so I should charge for a breakfast?
I read that the senate per diem is $87.55 (no receipts required) while the senator is in Ottawa on senate business or while the senate is sitting. Sitting on an airplane somewhere does not seem to meet the criteria.
And why would they need a per diem in Ottawa when they are given a housing allowance so that presumably they can have a residence with a kitchen? A kitchen that should go beyond the function of displaying high-end appliances. A kitchen where you can cook a breakfast, bake a cake and bag a lunch for the day. The same things most of us senate-funders do every day.
Ms. Wallin states that she didn’t have any concerns about her expenses until she was given a head’s up by the committee. She says that none of her expense claims were rejected.
That gives me pause for thought. When does the auditing of the office that processes the senators’ expenses start?