An independent audit conducted by Deloitte found that Senator Pamela Wallin had more than $120,000 in improper expense claims. Below is the statement she made to reporters Monday about the audit.
My apologies for the voice here, but I will do my best. This morning, I was given a copy of the Deloitte report which will be tabled at the Senate Committee here in just a few moments. It is my view that this report is the result of a fundamentally flawed and unfair process.
When appointed to the Senate in 2009, I was determined to be an activist senator, one who sought as her job to advance causes that are important to Canadians. When invited to appear publicly and speak on subjects, including the role of women in public life, our mission in Afghanistan, support for our troops, I saw it as my duty to accept whenever I was able to do so. Travel to these public speeches and appearances was and is in my continuing view a legitimate Senate expense.
However, in the Deloitte report, a number of expenses going back to 2009 that were submitted and approved by Senate Finance over a four-year period have now been disallowed. Deloitte has wrongly, in my view and in the opinion of my lawyers, applied the 2012 changes made to the Senators’ Travel Policy retroactively. The result is that travel expenses which were approved and paid by Senate Finance in 2009, in 2010, in 2011 have in a number of cases now been disallowed.
The basis for this latter decision is apparently some arbitrary and undefined sense of what constitutes Senate business or common Senate practice. And by Deloitte’s own admission, no inquiries were made of other senators as to their definition or views on this subject.
Finally, Deloitte has identified a number of items that they say are subject to interpretation – in other words, Deloitte was unable to conclude that these expenses should not be allowed. So that determination will now be made by the Senate Committee.
I want to be absolutely clear: I never intended to seek nor sought reimbursement for travel expenses in any situation where I did not believe such a claim was proper. Where I made mistakes, I have, as you know, already paid money back.
There are also media reports today that I changed my electronic calendar after the audit started. Again, let me be clear: at no time did I attempt to mislead Deloitte in any way. I was advised partway through the process that I should only include information relevant to the actual expenses being claimed. So we formatted our calendar accordingly and added as much information as we had regarding the claims without irrelevant or private or personal information included. We knew that Deloitte had a copy of the original calendars available to them at all times.
It was not until very late in the process, in July, that we were asked about the differences between the office calendars, and so we told them what had happened and why and we followed up with several written explanations, one of which is attached to the Deloitte report as an appendix, but there are others. And we immediately supplied them with my personal handwritten diaries for the entire period under review. As I said, no attempt was made to mislead Deloitte.
While I have serious concerns about the fairness of this process, I do not want to further burden the people of Saskatchewan, the Canadian public or my Senate colleagues with this matter. I want to return my focus to representing the people of my home province and advocating for the causes that I believe in, those that are close to my heart.
Finally, let me state clearly that I will pay back the full amount ordered by the committee, including interest, once that final figure is determined and given to me, and I will do so out of my own resources.
I need, as you know, now to attend the committee addressing the auditor’s report, and until that committee completes its report, there is really nothing else that I’m able to say. I thank you for your patience and your time here today.