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The thrones in the Senate Chamber are seen through the main entrance on Parliament Hill Wednesday May 22, 2013 in Ottawa.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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Mike Duffy made quite an entrance.

Walking through the front door of the Senate placed the PEI Senator between the two sides of the Red Chamber. He arrived midway through last Wednesday's Question Period, where the topic – as it was all week – was him.

It was the first time he had stepped foot in the chamber since his resignation from the Conservative caucus the week before. Though he was in Ottawa, he did not attend a debate the previous night that saw his expenses sent back to a committee for further review. He also missed a failed attempt by the Liberals to have his expenses sent straight to the police.

Mr. Duffy moved to his new seat in the back row on the opposition side. Already in her new seat in the same area was Pamela Wallin, another former CTV journalist who had also just resigned from the Conservative caucus over expenses.

Mr. Duffy leaned over and whispered something into her ear, then took his seat to her left. Later Mr. Duffy spoke to Ms. Wallin at length and she appeared to take notes. Then they chatted briefly with Mac Harb, another Senator under fire over expenses.

The cameras did not capture any of this, because cameras are not allowed in the Senate. No video cameras. No still cameras. Two reporters were detained by Senate security earlier this year because they were falsely accused of snapping cellphone pics in the chamber. The reporters received an apology.

The recent attention on the Red Chamber over the expenses scandal serves as a reminder that the Senate is a very strange place.

Normally Senators debate each other with no more than a handful of loyal staffers watching in the galleries above. Some NDP MPs would pop in from time to time, as they have no NDP Senators to tell them what is going on. Recent days have been an exception. The row reserved for media – normally empty – was often full.

The Senate has its own security team, even though the Senate shares Parliament's Centre Block with the House of Commons. Its rules are more strict. In the Senate, purses and computer bags are outlawed in the gallery.

Any member of the public hoping to tune in to the developments would be out of luck. There is a live audio feed with a transcript that runs across a red screen, but that is only available in offices on Parliament Hill.

Watching Senators in action is a bit like an episode of Where Are They Now? Hey, it's Josée Verner! Remember that battle over whether Ottawa would help pay for an NHL arena in Quebec City? The former cabinet minister was defeated in the 2011 election and appointed to the Senate a month later.

Over on the front bench for the Liberals, there's Art Eggleton! The former Toronto mayor and federal defence minister was once a big newsmaker in Canada. He has rarely been heard from since his March 2005 Senate appointment. There are four Senators in the Chamber who have been there since 1984 (that's 29 years ago).

Unlike the 308 seat House of Commons, the Senate is a much smaller place. There are only 105 seats. Three are currently vacant and full attendance rarely happens.

Conservative and Liberal Senators kept their distance from Mr. Duffy, Mr. Harb and Ms. Wallin. A fourth newly independent Senator facing expense troubles – Patrick Brazeau – is currently suspended as he fights criminal assault charges.

But one of the seven independents, Anne Cools, approached the new independents several times and came to their defence during debates.

"There is no way that anyone can possibly believe that those senators who have found themselves in these unfortunate circumstances have not been going through torment," said Ms. Cools, who was appointed in 1984 as a Liberal after two unsuccessful attempts to win a House of Commons seat in the Toronto riding of Rosedale. She sat in the Conservative caucus from 2004 to 2007 and has been an independent ever since.

"I, for one, will never partake in the persecution of any person here for any reason whatsoever. Maybe that is my Christian background. However, there it is," she said.

So the newly independent and very unpopular Senators have at least one friend – the dean of the Senate no less. The recent wave of caucus resignations means there are now seven independents in the chamber who owe no loyalty to any political party, nor any loyalty to an electorate given that they were appointed.

It will be worth popping in on the Senate from time to time to watch them in action.

Bill Curry is a parliamentary reporter in the Ottawa bureau.