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REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE

TUESDAY, August 13, 2013

The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

has the honour to present its

TWENTY-SEVENTH REPORT


On November 29, 2012, a subcommittee of this Committee ordered an external review of the unusual travel pattern of Senator Pamela Wallin. The travel pattern included frequent stopovers in Toronto, as well as return travel from Ottawa to Toronto and from Saskatchewan to Toronto. While travel from Ottawa to a senator’s province or territory of appointment for purposes of going home is a usual practice and the foundation of the Points Travel System, travel to a destination in Canada other than one’s provincial or territorial residence may only be claimed if a senator is attending to parliamentary business at that destination.

A formal contract was entered into with Deloitte on January 3, 2013. Deloitte was engaged to conduct a review of Senator Wallin’s expense claims and supporting documentation in order to categorize them as: appropriate in keeping with Senate practice; subject to reimbursement to the Receiver General; or subject to interpretation and determination by the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration; as well as to review Senator Wallin’s living allowance claims in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Deloitte’s findings in the attached Report relate to Senator Wallin’s travel patterns and the appropriateness of the related claims, as well as to the appropriateness of her living expense claims, as Senator Wallin had claimed privately owned accommodations in the NCR from April 2009 to the end of June 2011. This Report of your Committee provides recommendations on actions to be taken in response to Deloitte’s findings.

The review period for the examination was January 2009 to September 30, 2012. The unusual pattern that required examination related to frequent stopovers in Toronto, where Senator Wallin maintains a residence. Over the period, Deloitte concluded that the Senator had made 94 trips between Saskatchewan and Ottawa, and that 75 of them involved stopovers of one or more nights in Toronto. Where these stopovers had evidence of parliamentary business or were made to avoid a late arrival at final destination, Deloitte deemed the claims as appropriate; where assessed as not having such business, the incremental costs of stopovers have been designated as reimbursable. Other travel claims were deemed reimbursable in their entirety. The full amount assessed as reimbursable is $121,348, of which Senator Wallin has already reimbursed $38,369 following her own review. As a comparison, $390,182 of the total travel expenses of the $532,508 were determined to be appropriate (73 percent).

Deloitte has also categorized a number of travel claims and events as subject to interpretation and determination by the Steering Committee of the Internal Economy Committee. The total amount of claims subject to determination is $20,978.

Over the course of its review, Deloitte encountered inconsistencies between the information obtained from Senator Wallin and her Executive Assistant, and what they subsequently obtained through research and Outlook calendar back-ups. Examples of these inconsistencies provided by Deloitte in its Report elicit serious concerns that your Committee considers cannot be addressed and resolved internally.

With regard to living expenses, Deloitte has reported that Senator Wallin submitted a Declaration of Primary and Secondary Residence on March 26, 2009, providing an address for privately owned accommodations in Ottawa (proof of ownership followed on June 26, 2009), and including an address for her primary residence in Wadena, Saskatchewan. The status of Senator Wallin’s accommodations in the National Capital Region did not change until June 25, 2011, when she submitted a new Declaration indicating that she no longer owned private accommodations in Ottawa. From that time on, Senator Wallin’s living expense claims in Ottawa have been for the reimbursement of commercial accommodations. Over this 26-month period from April 2009 to June 2011, a total of $22,960 was reimbursed to Senator Wallin in living allowances as may be claimed for privately owned accommodations.

In its consideration of living expense claims, Deloitte conducted a detailed review of Senator Wallin’s location, following the same methodology used in their examinations of Senators Brazeau, Harb, and Duffy’s living expenses. Senate documentation such as the Senate Attendance Register and Travel Claims (with receipts from commercial carriers, etc.), and additional third party documentation such as cellular telephone invoices and credit card statements, were used to determine Senator Wallin’s location over the period of review, which covered January 2009 to September 30, 2012. Deloitte was able to confirm with 93 percent accuracy and another six percent likelihood (99 percent total) Senator Wallin’s location over the review period, i.e., Ottawa versus her declared primary residence in Saskatchewan, or elsewhere. This information has guided our determination on whether Senator’s Wallin’s claims for “secondary” or NCR residence were appropriate.

Deloitte ascertained that over the 1,369 days of the review period, Senator Wallin had spent 22 percent of her time in Ottawa on Senate business; 27 percent of her time in Saskatchewan; and 35 percent of her time in Toronto some of which is attributable to parliamentary business. She spent the remainder of her time in other locations, including 6 percent of it on Senate business and 9 percent private. Deloitte noted that, given the Senator’s travel pattern, the fact that she did not maintain a residence in Ottawa for 19 of the 45-month review period, and that she rarely spent time in Ottawa when not on Senate business, they were able to conclude that her primary residence was more than 100 kilometres from the NCR and that living allowance claims appeared to be appropriate.

In conclusion, this Committee is in agreement with the assessments that Deloitte has made in its Report. We wish to acknowledge that Deloitte’s application of the Senate’s policy framework and principles, with consideration to general practices where available, has been fair with regard to the claims in question.

Your Committee therefore determines and recommends:

Respectfully submitted,

GERALD J. COMEAU

Chair


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