The last remaining threads of the years-long Senate spending saga are finally being tied up, as the final few senators who have been facing legal scrutiny suddenly find themselves walking away without facing a criminal trial.
Fraud and breach of trust charges against Sen. Patrick Brazeau were withdrawn Wednesday, the latest legal domino to fall in the wake of Mike Duffy's sensational acquittal on 31 criminal charges three months ago.
In May, prosecutors dropped charges against former senator Mac Harb, while the RCMP abandoned its three-year-long investigation of Pamela Wallin's travel expenses without laying charges.
And still more senators who were swept up in the expenses scandal are set to walk away without facing criminal charges, said a Senate source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The RCMP has informed the upper chamber that the force will not pursue criminal charges against any of the 30 senators named in auditor general Michael Ferguson's critical review of Senate spending, said the source, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly,
The remaining two files are to be closed in the coming weeks, said the source, who would not confirm the identities of the senators in question.
The smoldering ruins of what was once a raging political scandal on Parliament Hill has left many in the upper chamber wondering what was gained from all the money and time spent on sifting through thousands of expense claims.
"Quite frankly, it's a big waste of money," Brazeau's lawyer Christian Deslauriers said outside the Ottawa courthouse Wednesday.
"There were a lot of resources that were put on this for no reason and quite frankly, this destroyed Mr. Brazeau for three years now. He's been having a hard time with this."
Deslauriers said Brazeau was considering his options, which include taking the Mounties to court.
Brazeau did not attend Wednesday's brief hearing in person, although he did express himself on Twitter shortly after the charges were dropped.
"I wouldn't wish false accusations on my worst enemy," Brazeau tweeted. "It almost ruined my life. I was thrown under the bus, but I survived."
The RCMP did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Brazeau's troubles with the law stemmed from housing expenses he claimed for a secondary residence in Gatineau, Que., across the river from Ottawa, which the RCMP alleged was his primary home and not in Maniwaki, Que., as Brazeau had told the Senate.
It was questions about Brazeau's expense claims raised in late 2012 that prompted similar queries about Duffy and Harb and ultimately a wider probe of senators' spending. Behind the scenes, the Senate had been quietly auditing Wallin's travel spending.
A Senate committee deemed the expenses unacceptable, despite the fact independent auditors decided the rules were too vague to conclude whether they'd been broken by Brazeau. The committee took the same decision in Harb's case.
Brazeau was ordered to repay about $49,000, money the Senate has since recouped by withholding his salary.
The RCMP should have looked at the audit results and realized "Brazeau did nothing wrong," Deslauriers said.
During the length of the investigation and subsequent court case, Brazeau came to face separate assault, drug and drunk-driving charges, none of which resulted in a conviction. In one of his darkest moments, he made an attempt on his own life.
Deslauriers said Brazeau still has stress-related health issues, although he didn't elaborate. On Twitter, Brazeau said he was finally returning to the gym after a three-year, health-related layoff.
Jacqui Delaney, a spokeswoman for Sen. Leo Housakos, chairman of the Senate's internal economy committee, confirmed Brazeau is now back in the Senate in full standing with access to all the resources of his office.
In November 2013, at the height of the expense scandal, Brazeau, Wallin and Duffy were suspended without pay from the Senate for two years until August 2015, when Parliament was dissolved for the fall election.
That election ended with Justin Trudeau's Liberals handily defeating the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, who faced pointed questions throughout the campaign about the way his office tried to manage the controversy.