In 2012, the Canadian Senate became embroiled in a scandal that is still ongoing, and still having an effect on Canadian political life today. At times in the 20th century, there have been calls for the reform, or even the abolition of the Senate completely. The current scandal has resulted a renewal of the frequent calls for reform that have frequently accompanied the many questionable actions of Senators. The structure of the Senate, and its outdated rules of appointment and procedure are also frequently the target of reformers in Canada. It is the contention of this paper that the Canadian Senate be reformed to represent the democracy that is Canada in the 21st Century, as this body is outdated and representative of entrenched party interests, as well as of a system that dates back to the days of aristocratic and upper-class privilege.
The 2012 expenses scandal was followed closely by the Canadian public. The entire scandal has also given the impression that certain Senators had adopted a sort of “above the law” attitude, and only showed repentance when they were caught abusing their office and breaking the law. This type of crime and malfeasance is especially egregious when the people who are committing the crime are the ones charged with (at least to some extent – as will be shown later in this paper) making and upholding the law.
Let us examine the scandal as the latest example of Senate corruption and elitism. In late 2012, an investigation was opened to look into irregularities in the reporting of travel expenses by three Senators: Mike Duffy (Prince Edward Island), Mac Harb (Ontario) and Patrick Brazeau (Quebec). By February 2013, Senators, acting on the basis of preliminary information resulting form their own investigation, hired an outside auditing firm to audit the three Senators mentioned above. In addition, ongoing investigation into the actions or possible misdeeds of other Senators was ongoing, and exposed possible financial irregularities in the travel expenses of Senator Pamela Wallin (Saskatchewan). A result of these investigations prompted the Auditor General of Canada to being an investigation into the expenses of the whole Senate.
The results and consequences to the scandal were many. One of them was increased calls by many segments of Canadian society for the reform or abolition of the Senate. Wallin, Duffy, and Brazeau were suspended. Brazeau is also the focus of a criminal investigation involving sexual and domestic abuse and is currently the day manager of a strip club in Ottawa. His entire Senate career was embroiled in scandal and alleged misdeeds. Harb retired from the Senate after paying back over $180,000 – but he is now collecting his Senate pension of $123,000. Duffy is still embroiled in a legal fight, with allegations of coverups and payoffs coming to light. Wallin was suspended without pay, but protested vigorously her innocence. All of the Senators have kept their medical, dental and life insurance...