The RCMP has come calling at Canada's beleaguered Senate, asking for documents that it says will help determine "whether there are grounds to launch a criminal investigation" of expense claims filed by Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Mac Harb. (Read the RCMP's letter)
The Senate has complied, handing over what was requested in a binder and several compact discs.
A letter released by the Senate Thursday shows Superintendent Biage Carrese formally requesting the Red Chamber provide rules and guidelines and policies related to expense claims for the last decade. He is described as the officer in charge of "sensitive and international investigations."
The Mounties explained they are scrutinizing the recent audits conducted by Deloitte on three senators including Mr. Duffy who resigned from Conservative caucus last week. The Harper government was rocked last week after revelations that top aide Nigel Wright secretly gave the PEI senator more than $90,000 to reimburse taxpayers for improperly-claimed expenses.
"The Royal Canadian Mounted Police's National division is conducting a review of these examinations conducted by Deloitte respecting Senators Brazeau, Harb and Duffy," Supt. Carrese wrote in a May 16 letter.
"These three reports dealt specifically with living allowance expense claims including assessment of the aforesaid senators' primary and secondary residency status," the Mountie said.
In order to decide whether it should launch a criminal investigation, Supt. Carrese wrote, the force required a copy of the Senate Administrative Rules, Senator's Living Expenses in the [National Capital Region] Guidelines, Senate Travel Guidelines and the Senators' Resource Guide Section IV Travel.
He asked for "all versions of these policies for the past 10 years."
"The RCMP is also requesting the calendar when the Senate sat during that same period," Supt. Carrese wrote.
In a separate letter from Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella, the Senate acknowledged on May 22 it was handing over the material.
Mr. Kinsella informed Senators Thursday that the RCMP has been in contact with his office seeking information related to the Senate's residency rules and that those documents were provided.
James Cowan, the Liberal Leader in the Senate, said he was pleased to hear that the RCMP is looking into the issue.
"I'm pleased that the RCMP are involved in this," said Mr. Cowan. "I think they are trained in these kinds of investigations in the way that parliamentarians are not. I think it's entirely appropriate. Parliamentarians have done their bit here."