After a week of vitriol and accusations of the highest order on Parliament Hill, Senator Nancy Greene-Raine sounded battle weary on Thursday but made it clear how she intends to vote on motions before the house.
The senator from Kamloops still feels some of her colleagues must accept discipline for their actions.
“It’s a really, really sad time when all this is happening,” she said from Ottawa, uncertain about how the bitter debate would play out.
Motions call for the suspension of senators Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau over what is described as “gross negligence” in managing their expenses.
Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella ruled on Thursday that the motion on Wallin can proceed to debate.
Instead of taking their licks, the senators struck back, demanding due process before what amounts to summary execution in their minds. Duffy went so far as to accuse Prime Minister Stephen Harper of subterfuge.
Greene-Raine doesn’t feel their defensive run holds up.
“I guess it points out that we have rules and regulations,” she said. “I feel they’re very clear and if they’re not, we have all kinds of people who can clarify the rules for them. The board of internal economy is responsible for how the Senate functions. If you have questions, if you don’t agree, you can go to the board and discuss it, you can ask for direction, whatever. That is the process.”
The three senators face suspension, not permanent expulsion, she noted. In any other field, if employees abused rules of conduct, they would face discipline.
“What we have been witnessing for almost a year now is a sign that we have a problem. Oversight of abuse is not as good as it should be. I would say the senators who are in trouble didn’t follow the rules we have in place and most people would expect that to have consequences.”
An independent audit found no wrongdoing, the senators argued, but the proof of violations is found in fine details of the report, Greene-Raine said.
She said she’s not concerned that all senators’ expenses will be put under a microscope. A comprehensive audit of all Senate spending by the auditor general is expected to take a year to 18 months to complete.