Suspended Senator Pamela Wallin committed fraud and breach of trust for billing taxpayers more than $25,500 for trips to Toronto and Guelph, Ont., "to pursue her personal and business interests" and then misrepresenting her travel, the RCMP allege in recently revealed court filings.
This includes travel expenses claimed during a period in which Ms. Wallin served on a CTV news panel covering the 2011 general election and "representing the Conservative point of view," the Mounties say.
An RCMP investigation into Ms. Wallin's expenses has already identified 150 "suspicious" claims and the RCMP are probing deeper into 21 of these by seeking the court's help to obtain records from BMO Nesbitt Burns, Inc., Bell Media Inc. and the University of Guelph that detail expenses they paid Ms. Wallin. It's the latest in what is expected to be a series of efforts by the Mounties to exhaustively investigate all the claims in question.
Ms. Wallin fraudulently claimed $25,567.31 for expenses between Mar. 4, 2009, and Sept. 5, 2012, while travelling to pursue personal and business interests related to her involvement with these organizations, the RCMP allege. At the time, she served on Bell Media's board, on BMO Harris Private Banking's advisory board and as chancellor for the University of Guelph.
Bell Media's parent, BCE, owns 15 per cent of The Globe and Mail.
"I believe that Sen. Wallin's conduct represent[s] a serious and marked departure from the standards expected of a Canadian senator," RCMP Corporal Rudy Exantus said in a court filing in late February that was just made public this week.
The latest allegations come weeks before another senator, former Conservative Mike Duffy, is set to go on trial in connection with his expense claims. The April 7 trial is a looming political problem for the Conservative government in the lead-up to this year's election, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, among a number of prominent former and current Conservative officials subpoenaed to testify.
In one case involving Ms. Wallin, the latest filings allege, she told investigators that she met with a World Bank adviser at a Toronto coffee shop on June 8 or 9, 2009, but an RCMP check with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Canada Border Services Agency showed the individual wasn't even in Canada at the time.
In another, the senator told auditors she met with Dan Sullivan, then the consul-general of Canada in New York, to discuss Canada-U.S. relations on April 18, 2009, in Toronto. But Mr. Sullivan subsequently told investigators he has no record of meeting with the senator on that date, was in New York City on the day in question and "has never met Senator Wallin to discuss Canada-U.S. relations," RCMP allege.
Ms. Wallin has not been charged and the allegations have not been tested in court.
In a third case, the RCMP say Ms. Wallin told auditors she had planned to serve as a keynote speaker at the Arts & Letters Club in Toronto on July 10, 2012, an event she explained had ended up being cancelled at the last minute. But investigators found she was never scheduled to speak at any of the club's official events.
Also, RCMP say the senator told auditors she attended a business dinner on Jan. 27, 2010, with Janet Yale, who was a senior Telus Corp. executive at the time, and discussed "telecommunications, regulatory issues and their shared interest regarding increasing the number of women on boards." But investigators said they interviewed Ms. Yale, who "refuted this statement, asserting she has never had lunch or dinner with Senator Wallin privately and speculates that [she] may have been a guest at a Telus event [where] Ms. Yale was also in attendance."