by Peter O’Neil
Special to the Langley Advance
Gerry St. Germain, the former B.C. Conservative senator and one of 30 named in a scathing report on alleged inappropriate spending in the upper chamber, learned Monday he will not be investigated by the RCMP.
St. Germain, a local resident, was both devastated and infuriated when Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s June 2015 report alleged that he and 29 other current and former senators made expenditures that weren’t related to official Senate business.
St. Germain vowed to fight the Senate.
Ferguson advised the Senate in that report to refer the files of St. Germain and eight other senators to the RCMP for investigation because their alleged transgressions were deemed to be the most serious.
St. Germain’s lawyer, Doug Eyford, said Monday he was informed by Senate counsel Michel Patrice that “the RCMP are not going to be investigating Gerry, which is good news.”
St. Germain, who served as a police officer in Manitoba and B.C. in the 1960s before entering business and then politics, said he was always confident that this would be the outcome.
“Having been a policeman I knew our system wouldn’t fail us in the long run,” he said in an interview.
The report was part of a broader controversy starting in 2012 over alleged inappropriate spending by four senators — Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Mac Harb and Patrick Brazeau.
The so-called Senate Scandal wounded former prime minister Stephen Harper after the revelation that his chief of staff, Nigel Wright, secretly gave Duffy a personal cheque for $90,000 to cover Duffy’s contested expenses.
But any likelihood of confirmed criminality in the institution took a tumble when Duffy was acquitted on 31 fraud and breach of trust charges by an Ottawa judge in April.
The RCMP announced a few weeks later that another senator at the centre of the spending controversy, Pamela Wallin, was no longer being investigated, and that charges against Harb had been withdrawn.
Ferguson’s report concluded that St. Germain was unable to justify $67,588 in claims from April 1, 2011, when the $24 million, two-year audit of all senators’ expenses began, until he hit his mandatory age-75 retirement date in October of 2012.
St. Germain repaid $468 for a dinner that an aide took responsibility for inadvertently claiming, but maintained that the other expenditures were within the rules.
While the Senate has settled with a number of the 30 senators and ex-senators named, it has indicated publicly that it is attempting to be repaid for the remaining amounts in dispute.
Former Supreme Court Justice Ian Binnie was hired to arbitrate disputes the senators had with Ferguson’s allegations. Of the $322,611 in alleged inappropriate spending involving the 14 senators who went to Binnie, $177,898 — or 55 per cent — was determined by the ex-judge to have been contrary to Senate rules and therefore owed to the federal treasury.
St. Germain, an MP from 1983 to 1988 and later the Progressive Conservative party president, was appointed to the Senate by Brian Mulroney in 1993. He chose to adopt the territory of Langley-Pemberton-Whistler as a senator but outside of Quebec, Canadian senators are not tied to a particular riding or area.
– Peter O’Neil is a reporter with the Vancouver Sun.
With files from the Langley Advance
For more from the the Sun, click HERE