Below are excerpts from an article that appeared in The Hill Times today (“Upper Chamber should clearly define ‘Senate business’: Tory Sen. Black”):
In light of auditing firm Deloitte’s inability to determine whether more than $20,000 of Senator Pamela Wallin’s expenses were eligible to be reimbursed, the Senate needs to work to more clearly define “Senate business” and better understand what the full scope of the work of a Senator is supposed to be, says a Conservative Senator.
“The Senate needs to have a conversation around what is the work of a Senator. We understand that in Ottawa, we have an understanding of what that is, but not maybe as fulsome an understanding as we need as to what that work is in our regions,” Conservative Alberta Senator Doug Black told The Hill Times. “We need a broader understanding about what is it that a Senator can and should do to advance the role that he or she is supposed to be advancing, and that’s a conversation that has not started, but I think will start.”
“There’s a lot of talk in the report about was Senator Wallin on ‘Senate business,’ so then that brings up the whole question of what is Senate business? That is a conversation that we need to have. I don’t think it’s ever been defined,” said Sen. Black, who was elected as an Alberta Senate nominee in 2012 and appointed on Mr. Harper’s recommendation last January. “I have a pretty strong view, which is, as an elected Senator I need to understand the issues of Alberta, of course, but I also need to understand the issues facing other regions of Canada and where Alberta fits in that. I can’t do that by sitting in a bunker in Ottawa. I need to be out talking to people, listening to people and learning from people. That’s my view as to the role that I am to perform as a Senator, so we need to make sure that the rules reflect that ability.”
Sen. Black said he thought earlier changes to the Senate travel policy introduced by the Senate Internal Economy Committee last February in the midst of this Senate expense scandal, were likely “enough steps,” but said if more is deemed needed he’s ready to roll up his sleeves.
“Canadians have to have confidence that their representatives, whether Members of Parliament or Senators, are spending their money prudently. That’s the goal here. So the way to get to the goal, I think we’ve likely done enough, but I’m just saying, there may be more to do,” said Sen. Black.
Sen. Black said as an elected Senator, he’s been travelling Alberta throughout the summer to speak about the Senate and reform efforts. He said Albertans “are very concerned.” Sen. Black said the message to him about the Senate has been “very clear: fix it.” The appetite for Senate reform has “absolutely” been increased by the Senate expense scandal, he said.
Sen. Black also highlighted that he followed through on his commitment to Albertans to post all of his expense claims online last June.
To view the full article, please click here.
To view Senator Black’s detailed quarterly expense reports online, please click here.