Like most Canadian political columnists, Tom Harper has jumped on the “kill the senators” bandwagon quickly. Senator Mike Duffy has been exposed as a cheating, ambitious liar; but Harper goes too far by saying Senator Pamela Wallin is cut from the same cloth.
I’ve known Wallin for a number of years. Contrary to what Harper reports, I’ve neither read nor heard a word from her staff, her colleagues or the many thousands of people with whom she has dealt personally and professionally over several decades, that Wallin is anything like the dishonourable Senator from Prince Edward Island. Everyone agrees that her travel expenses are quite high; but how many Canadians know what duties and responsibilities Wallin has accepted in her public service life?
After being appointed to the Senate five years ago, she served as vice-chair and then chair of the critical National Security NS Defense Committee. That work alone required extensive worldwide travel. She has worked tirelessly for Canada’s veterans as a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee.
As a working member of our Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committees, Wallin also agreed to travel widely on behalf of the Senate. Her “other” travel, both domestic and international, totaled $322,000 over roughly 30 months, or about $10,700 per month. Leaving Ottawa, a round-trip fare to Vancouver is $5,500; one to Berlin, Germany is about $7,600; and a working Senate trip to Sydney, Australia comes in at $11,000. That’s about 1.5 trips per month, on average. Has Wallin travelled too much at our expense, or is she simply guilty of working too hard on our behalf?
Abolish the Senate. I really couldn’t care less. But don’t execute Wallin because Duffy is a scoundrel. Until proven otherwise, Pamela Wallin’s integrity is unimpeachable.