Does the Government Agree the Senate Cannot be Trusted to Investigate Itself?

   Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Senator Mike Duffy was tipped off about his inappropriate expenses by the senator overseeing the investigation. Then when he was caught there were no consequences for breaking the rules. Those are more reasons why the Senate cannot be trusted to investigate itself.

    Does the government agree that it was inappropriate for the head of the investigation to tip-off Senator Duffy and, if so, what will it do about this leak?

    Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC): Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member looked at the facts a bit she would see that Mr. Duffy paid back inappropriate funds well before any discussion that she is referring to took place. In fact, he showed the kind of leadership that we would like to see from Liberal Senator Mac Harb who instead is taking up arms against the Senate saying that he should not have to pay back inappropriate funds.

    We are bringing in tough rules. Conservative senators have proposed tough rules on expenses. Guess who is blocking that? The Liberal senators. That is typical of the opposition members. Not only are they blocking tougher rules for accountability, they are blocking accountability through electing senators and are blocking term limits for senators.

    We can see who wants to defend the status quo. It is the opposition.

    Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP): Oh, Mr. Speaker, where are those old-time reformers?

    When Canadians break the law, they get charged. So, why are Conservatives giving their senators a free ride?

    Last spring, the Auditor General reported that senators still operate under the honour system. Now, there is an oxymoron. Senators can bill Canadian taxpayers for expenses without ever submitting a receipt.

    Does the government not agree it was wrong to allow senators to duck accountability and to operate for so long on the honour system? Does it not have better respect for taxpayer money?

    Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it is our respect for taxpayer money that led to an independent outside audit of the Senate. It is the respect of Conservative senators for taxpayer money that led to their initiative to change those very lax rules by introducing tougher rules.

    But guess what? Yesterday, when they tried to introduce those tougher rules, guess who stood in the way of them? The leader of the third party's Liberal senators. They are the ones who are blocking changes to the Senate. They are the ones who are blocking the kind of financial accountability that all Canadians want to see. It is not surprise that the Liberal Party continues to defend its entitlements.