One of Mike Duffy's closest allies says the recently acquitted senator should be repaid his lost wages as soon as he returns to the Red Chamber.
Senator John Wallace, who quit the Conservative caucus last year to sit as an independent, says Mr. Duffy is owed nearly two years in salary and benefits after his suspension in 2013.
"The Senate should do the right thing and compensate Senator Duffy and move on," Mr. Wallace, who represents New Brunswick, told The Globe and Mail.
"What went on in the Senate chamber, in my view … during the suspension process was a debacle, a complete debacle."
Mr. Wallace, who was also named to the Senate in December of 2008 by former prime minister Stephen Harper, said he always believed Mr. Duffy's version of events – and so did Justice Charles Vaillancourt, who acquitted the senator last week on 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery.
Mr. Wallace said he was "appalled" when he read e-mails from the Prime Minister's Office submitted at Mr. Duffy's trial, which the judge called "mind-boggling and shocking." The e-mails chronicled the efforts of Mr. Harper's former chief of staff Nigel Wright, and other top officials, to force Mr. Duffy to repay his Senate expenses against the senator's wishes, as well as efforts to control the actions of senators, which the judge likened to "pawns on a chessboard." Mr. Wright ended up paying Mr. Duffy's $90,172 expenses himself.
"I found that embarrassing to see what went on," Mr. Wallace said. "It was abhorrent, indefensible."
The senator said he looks forward to Mr. Duffy's return to the Red Chamber, which could happen as early as next week, when Parliament resumes after a weeklong break.
"I'm pleased that he's coming back. I'll welcome him as a colleague and as a friend," Mr. Wallace said.
"He and his wife, Heather, have gone through a 2 1/2-year nightmare. I can only imagine the emotional strain, and for Senator Duffy with his health, the physical strain."
Mr. Wallace's comments come after Mr. Duffy's criminal lawyer, Donald Bayne, also called on the Senate to return his client's wages, calling the suspension a "presumption of guilt."
Mr. Wallace said the Senate's internal economy committee should "take the initiative" and return Mr. Duffy's wages as soon as possible.
But Conservative Senator Leo Housakos, the committee's chairman, said the only way for Mr. Duffy's back wages to be repaid is through a motion tabled and voted on in the Red Chamber.
"The motion for suspension was taken by the Senate as a whole and it is an issue that can only be visited by the Senate … so if Senator Wallace feels so strongly about it, he should move a motion on the Senate floor," he said in an interview.
Mr. Housakos said the Senate acted appropriately when it suspended and garnished the salaries of Mr. Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin over questionable spending in 2013.
"It was well within our rights to garnish [Duffy's] salary. Some individuals have to be careful not to mix a criminal court proceeding with what was clearly a disciplinary proceeding and one really has nothing to do with the other," he said, adding there has been no request from Mr. Duffy to repay the lost salary that would amount to more than $270,000.
Mr. Wallace said he's not aware of the technical process for returning Mr. Duffy's wages but said the Senate "should step up and do the right thing.… At this point, I'm not familiar with what the procedure would be, but let's just say I will become familiar with it."
In November of 2013, Mr. Wallace went against his own Conservative leadership when he abstained from voting on the motions to suspend Mr. Duffy, Ms. Wallin and Mr. Brazeau. Their wages were automatically restored when the election was called in August, 2015.
"I was not convinced at that point we had all the facts before us," Mr. Wallace said.
"When all the information came out, if I knew then what I know now, I would definitely have voted against it."