Fireworks in the House over the Senate

00:00:00 | 00:00:00::Projekktor V1.3.09 (Update)The upper chamber is commonly called the house of sober second thought. But more and more these days, it’s been the site of fireworks. And the actions of a few Senators have set off a storm in the House of Commons too, with the opposition continuing to hammer away at Prime Minister Harper over the Senate expenses scandal. As we tell you this story, keep in mind that there are no cameras allowed in the senate. So we can only provide you with audio clips. Kate Carnegie has the details.The ongoing war of words over the senate spending scandal continued in the House of Commons. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair continually asked Stephen Harper if he knew about a $90,000 payoff of Senator Mike Duffy’s inappropriate expense claims: “After firing Nigel Wright, the PM told Canadians in this House that no one else, not a few, no one else, knew about the deal between Duffy and Wright. Now he admits that top Conservatives actually did know about the scheme but they kept him in the dark knowing and they allowed him to make false statements. But if that’s true why didn’t he fire any of them?”Prime Minister Harper: “Once again Mr. Speaker I addresed that issue months ago. Mr. Wright made this decision. He has been very clear he informed very few people and it was his own decision and his own initiative. Any insinuation that I knew or would have known is incorrect. As soon as I knew, I made this information available to the public and took the appropriate action.”The Prime Minister has consistently maintained that Wright acted alone when he decided to cut Duffy a cheque.The upper chamber continues to debate a motion that would suspend three former Conservative senators without pay. Mike Duffy was not present Thursday, but Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau were.In the Senate, Marjory LeBreton defends herself, suggesting Duffy’s speech contained inaccuracies. And says she never gave him permission to claim him cottage in PEI “What two page memo? What two page memo? I have searched high and low, checked my files and for the life of me I can find no memo which supposedly gives my approval to Sen. Duffy to claim his property in Prince Edward Island as a principle residence in order to claim living expenses in ottawa.”Senator Don Plett said he won’t support the Prime Minister in suspending his fellow Senators without pay. He said they would be finding their colleagues guilty before they are charged. Senator Lillian Dyck agreed saying Senate rules dictate that salaries can only be withheld if Senators are found guilty of criminal offences. That hasn’t happened yet.Here’s a review of the week’s events related to the Senate expense scandal.On Tuesday, Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau, showed up to challenge the motions to suspend them without pay. Duffy gave an explosive speech accusing the Prime Minister, his office and then Senate government leader Marjory lebreton of bullying him into repaying living expenses that he says were legitimately claimed.brazeau made a short statement that he will fight before being thrown under the bus saying he did not do anything wrong”And then Wednesday, Pamela Wallin made her statement, accusing Senators Lebreton and Carolyn Stewart Olsen of a personal vendatta against her. She argues it is unfair to take away her pay and health insurance before she has been found guilty of any crimes.Meantime, the Harper government’s latest attempt to reform the Senate has hit another roadblock. The Quebec Court of Appeal has declared it unconstitutional for the federal government to create Senate elections and set term limits, without consulting the provinces. It says the Harper government needs to get provincial support if it wants to reform the Senate under bill C-7, which would set nine-year term limits for Senators and create elections in provinces that wanted them.

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