It's more expensive than you think
Senator Pamela Wallin
The Senate scandal could be worse than we think.
The NDP say they suspect Conservative Senator Pamela Wallin passed off on to taxpayers some of her partisan travel expenses from the last federal election.
They are making a big stink about it in the Commons. They say the travel expenses she charged up to the Senate came from taxpayers' pockets.
They're claim the former CTV journalist racked up some $ 25,000 in travel expenses during the election campaign.
Wallin went to Collingwood, Ontario, on April 29 to help elect Conservative candidate Kelly Leitch.
Leitch is important to Stephen Harper. She's a friend of cabinet minister Tony Clement and is considered in line for a ministerial post in the cabinet shakeup coming this summer.
Wallin has also attended a fundraiser in Moose Jaw, April 13, for the Conservative candidate Ray Boughen.
The Senate was not in session in the six week campaign leading up to May 2 Election Day.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is taking the NDP accusations seriously. He went out of his way Thursday to defend Senator Wallin, who he appointed to the Senate in December 2008. Harper said her travel at election time was comparable to the travel expenses of other parliamentarians from her part of the country.
So if she's no worse than anybody else from that part of the world, as the prime minister is saying, then in his view, she's not bad at all. They're all like her, no better or worse. Hardly comfort for any senator.
But were their trips at election-time to take part in partisan activities? All this brings up the question as to whether senators should be allowed to travel on taxpayer expense to take part at election-time?
The New Democrats say that during the past two years, Senator Wallin has claimed 350,000 dollars in travel expenses. That's a lot of money. How do they know that? They may have to prove it.
The Senate records show that Wallin is one of top three senators in travel expenses.
Some of the other 102 senators prefer to use their 64 free airline passes to fly on commercial airlines.