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Former Liberal senator to file legal challenge after ordered to repay expenses

Senator Mac Harb arrives to the East Block of Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 29, 2013.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Senator Mac Harb says he is filing a legal challenge against the Senate, arguing that a committee's review of his expense claims was handled unfairly.

A statement prepared by Mr. Harb's lawyer indicates that he plans to file an application for judicial review with the Ontario Superior Court. The claim is expected to be filed by Monday.

Mr. Harb is one of three senators whose housing expense claims were sent to external auditors for further review. After receiving the audit reports, the Senate's internal economy committee ordered each of the senators in question to repay tens of thousands of dollars in claims.

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Mr. Harb was initially told he would owe about $51,000 for a two-year period, but that the figure would increase once the Senate reviewed his claims over previous years.

Last week, Conservative Senator David Tkachuk sent Mr. Harb a letter requesting that he pay more than $231,000 – an amount that covers his mileage and living expenses over the past eight years.

The statement prepared by Mr. Harb's lawyer argues that the case concerns fundamental freedoms, including the right to a fair hearing.

"Senator Harb argues that he was denied the most basic procedural fairness guarantees in the Senate process leading to the decision," it says.

The statement adds that Mr. Harb was judged on a definition that did not exist at the time he was making the claims and that he was not called to testify or allowed to participate in the committee's decision-making process.

It also says the committee did not act independently.

None of the claims in the planned application for judicial review have been proven in court.

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Mr. Harb is being asked to repay money he claimed to help cover the cost of maintaining a secondary residence in Ottawa, saying his primary residence was located outside the National Capital Region, near Pembroke, Ont. But he also owns property in Ottawa and represented Ottawa Centre as a former MP.

The committee said Mr. Harb should not have claimed the money and has given him 30 days to reimburse the Senate.

Mr. Harb resigned from the Liberal caucus in May, after the initial report from the committee was made public.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Kim Mackrael has been a reporter for The Globe and Mail since 2011. She joined the Ottawa bureau Sept. 2012. More

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