Wednesday, September 02, 2015
The Wallin Affair: Stephen Harper Is Already Changing His Story
We still have to wait and see whether the Crown will lay charges against Pamela Wallin now that the RCMP has wrapped up its investigation.
But already Stephen Harper is being asked questions about that other Senate scandal.
And already, and as usual, he is changing his story.
While campaigning at a factory in Burlington, Ont., Harper wasn't asked specifically about the CTV News report about Wallin's case. Instead, he was questioned about whether Wallin's initial repayment of $38,000 of her questionable claims was part of a scheme to derail an audit into her expenses.
Harper replied, "As I said at the time, I said that all of the individual expenses of all senators would be looked at, and those who were not following the rules would be held accountable. That is exactly what has happened in that and in the case of every single senator."
But unfortunately for him that's NOT what he said at the time, on Feb.13 2013, in response to this question from Tom Mulcair:
Mr. Speaker, in the Senate, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Senator Pamela Wallin claimed more than $300,000 in travel expenses in the past three years alone. Less than 10% of these expenses were for travel in Saskatchewan, the province she is supposed to represent. Senator Wallin is using taxpayers' money to travel around the country and to star in the Conservative Party's fundraising activities. Does the Prime Minister believe it is acceptable for taxpayers' money to be used to raise money for his political party?
When he claimed that he had PERSONALLY reviewed her expenses and found them perfectly acceptable:
Mr. Speaker, I reject that characterization. In terms of Senator Wallin, I have looked at the numbers. Her travel costs are comparable to any parliamentarian travelling from that particular area of the country over that period of time. For instance, last year Senator Wallin spent almost half of her time in the province she represents in the Senate. The costs are to travel to and from that province, as any similar parliamentarian would do.
When in fact the Duffy trial has shown us that his PMO went to extraordinary lengths to cover-up a scandal.
And in the matter of Wallin, the RCMP had a very different view of the expenses she claimed.
New court documents filed by the RCMP allege suspended senator Pamela Wallin fraudulently billed the Senate for more than $25,000 in expenses she incurred on trips to Toronto and Guelph “to pursue her personal and business interests.”
“I believe that by submitting these 21 travel expense claims to the Senate Finance and Procurement Directorate for reimbursement under the representation that the activities she undertook were ‘Senate Business,’ Senator Wallin committed a fraud and a breach of trust by a public officer,” Cpl. Rudy Exantus wrote.
And all I can say is what I said in my last post. If Wallin is charged Stephen Harper will have to wear that scandal. And it will do him enormous damage.
Especially with the trial of his former close adviser Bruce Carson due to begin in seven days...
For as Evan Solomon points out, there are only so many battles Harper can fight:
Without derailing his campaign.
Yes indeed, he can lie about the economy, he can lie about Mike Duffy, he can lie about Pamela Wallin, he can claim he hardly knew Bruce Carson.
But sooner or later Canadians will notice the stench, or the length of his nose...
His lies will come back to haunt him.
And they will help destroy him...
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