The unanimous decision of the Senate internal economy committee to ask the RCMP to investigate Senator Mike Duffy’s expense claims and the secret $90,000 payment made to him by the prime minister’s chief of staff is a welcome development. It now falls to the police to move swiftly, as a man’s reputation and that of the Senate hang in the balance.
Mr. Duffy has been his own worst enemy since it came to light late last year that his housing expense claims were subject to questions in the media. He has contradicted himself several times as the controversy has broadened, and his still unexplained absence from Tuesday’s open-door Senate committee hearing into his expenses – a hearing that he welcomed and insisted must be public – was for many a final nail in the coffin of his credibility.
One can only suppose that, barring the revelation of a last-minute personal crisis that prevented him from both attending the hearing and informing the committee in advance of his absence, Mr. Duffy suspected the committee might hand the matter to the RCMP and made the well-justified decision to save his testimony for the police. The senator has a right to due process.
The RCMP must announce as quickly as possible whether or not there are charges to be laid. There is too much at stake for this to drag out, and for the parties involved to be permitted to remain indefinitely silent on the grounds they can’t comment while police are investigating. The Canadian public is justifiably angry and upset about what they have learned so far. They want answers, not delays.