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15 Senators Who Made Some Pretty WTF Expense Claims

Tailors, anniversary parties, cottage visits, and other uses of taxpayer money.

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Conservative Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, Quebec

Chris Wattie / Reuters

He expensed $38,577 in travel, some of which he made before his appointment to the Senate, including for trips to give speeches or do radio interviews. During the speeches, he sold his book, the profits for which went to a fund managed by his own organization.

In addition, Boisvenu charged $745 in expenses that included postage to mail copies of his book.

Liberal Senator Sharon Carstairs (resigned), Manitoba

Carstairs claimed her primary residence was in Winnipeg but during the 2010-2011 fiscal year she only spent 32 days in the city. Auditors determined her primary residence was Ottawa and flagged $7,528 in travel expenses.

Liberal Senator Marie-P. Charette-Poulin (resigned), Ontario

Auditors found "discrepancies” in 13 out of 14 invoices from a contractor employed by Charette-Poulin totalling $82,746.

In total, the AG’s office said it found $131,434 in expenses for which it “had conflicting or insufficient information to determine” whether the expenses were for parliamentary business.

Liberal Senator Senator Joseph A. Day, New Brunswick

Day submitted four travel claims totalling $12,812 for activities involving a youth organization for which he happens to be both a board member and an honourary legal counsel. The auditor decided the “trips were primarily in the corporate interest of the youth organization.”

He also once claimed $508 in expenses for a trip from Toronto to Ottawa after returning from a vacation in Mexico.


Conservative Senator Nancy Greene Raine, British Columbia

The former top skier attended Senator Gerry St. Germain’s 50th wedding anniversary bash and expensed $203 in travel costs. She said St. Germain was her Senate mentor but the audit determined it was a personal activity.

On two occasions, she also scheduled stopovers in Toronto en route to Ottawa so she could attend ski shows. The incremental cost of the two stopovers was $1,688.

Conservative Senate Speaker Leo Housakos, Quebec

He expensed $1,609 in travel for his staff to help him plan a St. Valentine’s ball in Montreal. In his comments, Housakos defended himself by saying the ball was a charity event.

Liberal Senator Rose-Marie Losier-Cool (retired), New Brunswick

She claimed her primary residence was in Moncton but only spent 16 of 448 days there. The AG’s office determined that her true primary residence was Gatineau. As a result, the $21,359 she claimed in living expenses were ineligible, the AG’s office said.

In addition, she is flagged for $46,225 in travel expenses between Ottawa and Moncton that were not for parliamentary business.

Liberal Senator Terry M. Mercer, Nova Scotia

In December 2011, Mercer expensed $3,452 for travel to Toronto to attend the 100th anniversary of a curling club of which he was once a member. He said the purpose of the trip was Senate-related business. The auditors disagreed.


Conservative Senator Lowell Murray (retired), Ontario

Murray expensed $15,324 in travel to Nova Scotia over six separate occasions. He said he had an interest in the region. (He also happened to have a residence in Cape Breton.) Murray didn’t provide any further explanation, so the auditors determined the trips were not for parliamentary business.

Conservative Senator Donald Oliver, Nova Scotia

He expensed a total of $48,088 that included a fishing trip, meeting with his tailor, and playing golf in Montreal. Of that amount, the AG’s office said it was unable to determine whether $22,982 in travel expenses were for Senate work or to attend meetings of a not-for-profit organization of which he's a member.

The organization promotes “wines, cuisine, and tourism of a region overseas,” according to the report.

Conservative Senator Donald Plett, Manitoba

In February 2012, Plett travelled from Landmark, Man. to Montreal before leaving later that afternoon to return to Ottawa. While in Montreal, Plett said he dined with a Senate colleague but “The Senator’s calendar contained an entry for a professional hockey game early that afternoon.” He expensed $183 for per diem and taxis.

Liberal Senator Dr. Vivienne Poy (resigned), Ontario

In July 2011, Poy claimed $13,402 in expenses for a trip to Vancouver to attend an event for a charitable organization of which she was a board member.

She also expensed taxis and accommodations when she went to an art exhibit opening in Montreal in 2012, for a total of $354.


Conservative Senator Gerry St. Germain (retired), British Columbia

Ben Nelms / Reuters

Germain expensed $43,727 for his staff to travel to Conservative party events at his home, his 50th wedding anniversary, a gala where he won an award, his retirement party, and other events. He said he was “rewarding his staff for their hard work.”

Conservative Senator David Tkachuk, Saskatchewan

In November 2011, he expensed travel costs for himself and his wife to attend the 50th wedding anniversary of fellow Senator Gerry St. Germain. The costs — which included airfare, per diems, car rental, accommodations and taxis — came to $858 for himself and $1,076 for his wife.

Liberal Senator Rod Zimmer (retired), Manitoba

Zimmer (left) had the most suspect expenses with a grand total of $176,014.

Of that, $102,524 was for travel between Ottawa and Winnipeg for Zimmer and his wife, including airfare, car rentals, taxis and per diems. The audit determined no parliamentary business was undertaken.

Craig Silverman is a media editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto.

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Paul McLeod is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

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Lauren Strapagiel is Managing Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada.

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