June 8th, 2015

NDP REALITY CHECK: Did Stephen Harper know his pick to be the most powerful Senator, Leo Housakos, was about to be named in the AG’s audit?

A troubling timeline is emerging when it comes to how senior Conservative and Liberal Senators prepared for the release of the Auditor General’s explosive audit into the Senate spending scandal.

It seems Senate Speaker Leo Housakos, Leader of the Government Claude Carignan and Senate Leader of the Opposition James Cowan assumed their roles as liaisons with Auditor General’s office after they were reportedly sent letters notifying them that they would be named in the AG’s audit.

In context of this potential cover-up in the making, the timing of Housakos’ quick ascendency to the most powerful seat in the Senate is particularly troubling:

  • April 24, 2015 - Stephen Harper appoints Housakos as Speaker of the Senate
  • May 7th, 2015 - Senator Housakos assumes role as chair of the secretive Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration (CIBA)
  • May 15, 2015 - Senate's lawyers file a court affidavit invoking privilege to keep a 2013 internal audit on the residency status of all senators should also be kept from the courts.
  • May 26, 2015 - Housakos announces the creation of the Senate Auditor General’s Report Dispute Resolution Process for expense violations which ensured that disputes and repayment would be controlled by senators behind closed doors at CIBA.
  • June 5, 2015 - Auditor General Michael Ferguson releases audit to the Senate naming 30 Senators for expense abuses and flags more than $975,000 in questionable travel and housing claims.

So, it seems upon learning they were named, the three most senior Liberal and Conservative Senators proceeded to set up a new internal arbitration process that would now allow senators to dispute the Auditor General’s findings.

Canadians remember that this scandal already includes a 2013 audit being whitewashed behind closed doors by senior Senators working alongside the Prime Minister’s office. Despite this, senior Conservative and Liberal Senators choose to set up a special appeals process that would still be executed behind closed doors – by a committee chaired by someone named in the report – the Senate Speaker, Housakos.

Now that the prime minister’s close ally Leo Housakos is in the powerful position of Senate Speaker, what role is the Prime Minister’s Office playing in doing damage control? And is that why a junior Senator like Housakos suddenly finds himself in the most powerful job in the Senate?

Canadians deserve better.