Former Supreme Court Justice Ian Binnie: Senators to pay back misappropriated funds

Over 14 Senators in Canada are waiting to find out if they will have to pay back misappropriated funds to the Senate. This comes in the midst of various Senate scandals, most notably the “Duffy Scandal”, in which Senator Mike Duffy was accused of misappropriating over $90,000 dollars from the Senate.

Former Supreme Court Justice Ian Binnie, is expected to deliver his report to the Senate Board of Internal Economy, going over individual rulings for each senator who decided to have their disputed expenses resolved by arbitration.

The Senate scandal gained momentum following Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s report on the Senate, in which he found that over 30 legislators from the Senate had claimed almost $1 million dollars in illegal expenses.

Rather than drag each of the accused senators before a judge, they were each given the chance to resolve their disputed expenses through an arbitration process.

However, not all senators were given this opportunity as Conservative senators Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin, all of whom were at the time suspended from the Senate due to their own expenses, had their cases dealt with separately from the other 14 senators.

Former supreme court justice Ian Binnie is tasked with heading the arbitration process of the 14 senators  / Macleans

Former supreme court justice Ian Binnie is tasked with heading the arbitration process of the 14 senators / Macleans

Currently, fourteen of the thirty senators decided to resolve their case via arbitration. The amount owed ranges from senator to senator, with some owing as little as a few thousand dollars, to others owing over $200,000.

Conservative Senator Pierre-Hughes Boisvenu was told he owed $61,076. To date, he has paid back around $1,000 and has stated that he is waiting on the report’s findings before he pays anymore.
“I think that Mr. Binnie did a very good job,” Senator Boisvenu told CBC. “He was, I think, effective and we had plenty of time to present our defence.”

According to former justice Binnie, each of the 14 senators will be given an individual report on March 21 which will include an overall summary to the Senate Board of Internal Economy with his personal decision for all 14 cases.

The chair of the Senate Board of Internal Economy is responsible for overseeing all spending in the Senate. Senator Leo Housakos, is expected to issue a statement in regards to the report later this week.
Once the case has been closed, the senators involved will have 30 days to pay back any outstanding debts. Failure to comply will result in having their wages docked as well as legal action that has not been specified at this time.

Those who chose not to participate in the Senate arbitration process will be pursued for any outstanding money they owe, which could result in garnished wages.

As for those who choose to not participate in the arbitration, they will be responsible for paying all of their outstanding debt as well.

This comes after the auditor general’s report which identified over 30 senators who had been inappropriately reimbursed $991,917 in travel, housing and office expenses.

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