For all her flaws and long-windedness, Senator Pamela Wallin does have a point.
"By throwing a member of this Senate under the bus, finding her guilty without a fair hearing such as any other Canadian could expect – a right guaranteed us by the Charter – to proceed without the evidence having been adduced and considered on which the charge in the motion is based – is a fundamental affront to Canadian democracy – and makes a mockery of this chamber," Wallin said Wednesday afternoon in the Senate chamber.
In effect, by moving to suspend Wallin and fellow senators Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau before their respective RCMP investigations have concluded, the Senate is acting as accuser, judge, jury and executioner before they have had their respective days in court.
"We live in a nation that has a Charter or Rights and Freedoms that applies to every law and every citizen," Wallin said. "For the Senate of Canada, itself a creation of our Constitution, to decide that the constitutional protections afforded to each and every Canadian are to be disregarded here is to bring the Senate itself into disrepute."
There's little question the future of the Upper Chamber is in peril already. The exposure of the expenses of the three maligned senators — and others, including Liberal Senator Harb Mac — have pulled back the curtain on a long tradition of privilege and abuse of taxpayer dollars based on vague rules and a lack of strong oversight. It would be naive to assume that Wallin and Duffy were the first senators to take liberties on their housing expenses — the Senate has long been viewed as a retirement fund for key party supporters and fundraisers, and taking liberties with taxpayer dollars is likely considered one of the perks.
So while it's clear a review of the Senate's function and relevance is long overdue, it's less clear whether it's right to expel Wallin, Duffy and Brazeau from their Senate pay and benefits without allowing them their constitutionally-guaranteed day in court.
So we ask you: Should Wallin, Duffy and Brazeau be suspended from the Senate?
Have your say in the comments area below.
- Politics & Government
- Pamela Wallin
- Mike Duffy
- Patrick Brazeau