Still my office immediately began our own detailed examination.
We scoured the books and when we found mistakes, we acknowledged them and I repaid the amounts immediately.
That was before Deloitte was engaged to conduct a so-called independent audit.
When in the New Year that outside audit began, I cooperated fully.
My assistant and I worked night and day verifying timelines, searching out supporting documentation for each and every event – and there were many.
Being an activist senator meant saying ‘yes’ to as many of the invitations I received as possible.
I never went anywhere that I was not invited – and my claims were never disputed at the time.
Still, despite the cooperation by me and my office, the Deloitte audit was extended again and again, finally to cover my entire tenure as a senator.
I was cautioned by the then-chair of the committee, Senator Tkachuk, to limit the amount of information I was providing – but the real problem was that Deloitte had been given marching orders by Internal Economy.
The committee was angry that Deloitte had actually said that Senators Duffy and Brazeau had not violated any Senate rules, and that the rules were contradictory and confusing.
The committee wanted a different story from Deloitte in my case, so they were told to apply the new travel policy that had come into force in June, 2012, retroactively to each and every one of my claims back to the beginning of my time here in 2009 – retroactivity is ugly and it is unconscionable.
It was designed to inflate the numbers and to inflame public opinion.
In other words, they had to exaggerate the total amount of my alleged misspending so that the public outcry would justify the radical response we see in the motion they now propose.
Just to be clear, when asked, Deloitte said there was no evidence of deliberate misrepresentation or fraud or fiddling with the books, as the media reported.
They spoke with former staff members who agreed.
And by their own admission, Deloitte conceded they had no standard by which to judge my activities.
They interviewed no senators about what constituted Senate business, nor reviewed anyone else’s expenses for comparison.
Interestingly, I’ve had several independent auditors tell me they were shocked that Deloitte would agree to audit my expenses under rules that were not in place when those expenses were incurred.
Today’s rules, Deloitte said, were applied to yesterday because, they were told they were the same as the old rules.
A Record of Decision by the Committee on Internal Economy says in several places that the Travel Policy is new – including Appendix A, which lists travel that is acceptable or not.
There were no such examples provided in previous documents.
Prior to the new rules coming into force, I’ve been unable to find any rule of this place that forbade speaking at a fundraising or a partisan event so long as there wasn’t an election campaign in progress.
So, honorable senators, the travel rules were considerably different before June 2012, and yet those June 2012 rules were applied retroactively to me.
When I was appointed to the Senate, I knew it could be a platform for the causes in which I deeply believe, just as Senator Dallaire works to stop the exploitation of child soldiers, and Senator Munson works actively to support families with autistic children.
And so I used that platform – I traveled the country talking about Afghanistan and the decisions facing Canada about our role in the world.
I did so as a senator. I was asked to speak because I was a member of this chamber.
But more than that, I knew that the Conservative leadership expected me to work hard outside this chamber too, not only for the good of Canadians but for the Conservative Party of Canada – because I had a track record as a communicator and a reputation as a fair and honest person.
Prime Minister Chretien asked me to serve as consul general in New York after the 9-11 attacks.
Much was at stake for our country – I was an activist diplomat.
That is part of the reason Prime Minister Harper appointed me to the Afghan Panel and then to the Senate.
I work hard and I may be guilty of being unable to say no when asked, as a senator, to come and speak.
But I did so willingly, gladly – recognizing the responsibility bestowed upon me to reach out to all Canadians.
I always spoke about issues of public interest and public policy, which, by the way, is permitted by the current travel policy and was not forbidden by past rules.
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