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REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE

THURSDAY, May 9, 2013

The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

has the honour to present its

TWENTY-THIRD REPORT


On November 22, 2012, your Committee created a Subcommittee on Living Allowances to investigate media reports with respect to Senator Patrick Brazeau’s living allowances in the National Capital Region (NCR); and to inquire into and report on all matters relating to living allowances in the NCR.

The Subcommittee began its examination of Senator Brazeau’s living allowance claims with an internal review of all Senate policy instruments relating to living and travel expenses, together with Senator Brazeau’s claims and related documents. The period of review was established as April 2011 to September 30, 2012, or from the time that Senator Brazeau began to claim living expenses for a rented home in the NCR to the last month that full invoices and other records were available to the Subcommittee. Documents internal to the Senate Admini-stration, specifically telecommunications invoices for Senator Brazeau’s mobile phone supplied by the Senate, assisted your Subcommittee to notionally establish Senator Brazeau’s location during the period of review, i.e., Ottawa versus his declared primary residence, Maniwaki. The information and analyses provided to the Subcommittee raised a number of questions that warranted discussion with Senator Brazeau directly. The Subcommittee therefore invited the Honourable Patrick Brazeau to attend its meeting of December 11, 2012 at 6 p.m. Senator Brazeau was accompanied by his lawyer.

The internal review of Senator Brazeau’s claims represented many employee work-hours and resulted in issues that merited an external third party review of the information. Your Subcommittee therefore referred the claims and related findings to Deloitte. A contract was entered into with Deloitte on January 3, 2013, for an independent examination of living and travel expense claims and related documents for Senator Brazeau, dating back to April 2011.

Deloitte was asked to review the travel claims and supporting documentation to determine whether the travel occurred or could have occurred; to categorize the claims as appropriate, subject to reimbursement to the Receiver General, or subject to consideration and determination by the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration; as well as to assess where the primary residence was located for Senator Brazeau. Deloitte conducted an examination of Senator Brazeau’s claims, for which their report is attached as an Appendix. Deloitte’s examination provides analysis of the claims and, using a variety of sources, Deloitte was able to confirm with a high degree of accuracy Senator Brazeau’s location during the period of review, that is from April 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012. This information is fundamental to our determination of the Senator’s primary residence.

In its report, Deloitte noted that prior to the adoption of the Senators’ Travel Policy on June 5, 2012, a definition of primary residence did not appear in Senate policy instruments. Deloitte further noted that, “The regulations and guidelines applicable during the period of our review do not include criteria for determining primary residence.” Given this, Deloitte reported that they were “not able to assess the status of the primary residence declared by Senator Brazeau against existing regulations and guidelines.” However, they did conclude that all of the trips between the Senator’s respective primary and secondary residence “did take place or could have taken place.”

Your Committee acknowledges Deloitte’s observation regarding the absence of criteria for determining primary residence. It is nonetheless our conclusion that the Primary and Secondary Residence Declaration form in force during the scope of these investigations and signed by Senator Brazeau is amply clear, as is the purpose and intent of the guidelines (as of June 2012, policy) to reimburse living expenses. In summary, the Declaration requires Senators to affirm whether their primary residence is “within 100 kilometres from Parliament Hill” or is “more than 100 kilometres from Parliament Hill.” The purpose and intent of the policy instrument is to allow Senators, who do not have their home within 100 kilometres of Parliament Hill and would not be in Ottawa if it were not for the fact that they are Senators who must attend Senate business, to not incur additional costs for accommodations while in Ottawa to attend Senate business. To claim living expenses in the NCR, any residence owned or rented by a Senator must be a secondary residence, not the place where he or she ordinarily lives, for use by the Senator while in the NCR for Senate business. Your Subcommittee considers this language to be unambiguous and, plainly, if a Senator resides primarily in the NCR, he or she should not be claiming living expenses for the NCR.

Deloitte’s reports have been very helpful to our determination of the appropriateness of the living expense claims filed. Senator Brazeau was found to have spent approximately 10 percent of the 549 days in the period of review at his declared primary residence of Maniwaki, with an additional 13 identified day trips to the Maniwaki area.

It is therefore the conclusion of your Committee that, based on the evidence presented in the examination report, while recognizing the ties of Senator Brazeau with Maniwaki, his level of presence at his primary residence does not support such a declaration. It is contrary to the meaning of the word “primary” and to the purpose and intent of the provision of living allowance in the NCR.

Your Committee therefore recommends:

1. That Senator Brazeau be ordered to reimburse the Receiver General for Canada for any living and related mileage expenses reimbursed to him by the Senate of Canada for the period from April 1, 2011 to date, with interest at prime rate plus one percent; and

2. That expense claims submitted for reimbursement by Senator Brazeau be overseen by the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, from the date of the adoption of this report for a period not less than one year.

Your Committee would like to thank the members of the Subcommittee on Living Allowances in the NCR, Senators Marshall, Comeau and Campbell for their work on this examination

Respectfully submitted,

Le président,

 

DAVID TKACHUK

Chair


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