Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais
Appendix B—Files recommended for review by the Standing Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais
Appointment date: 17 January 2012
For the period from 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2013
|Total amount of items referred to the Internal Economy Committee
(including applicable taxes)
We found instances of travel expenses incurred by a staff member and approved by the Senator that were not for parliamentary business.
1. A member of the Senator’s staff filed claims for same-day round trips starting from and returning to Ottawa, to assist or accompany the Senator on parliamentary business. The employee claimed mileage and per diem expenses. The claims were signed by the employee and the Senator. Two such claims were filed in the 2011–12 fiscal year and 10 in the 2012–13 fiscal year. For most of the trips, we did not have sufficient information to confirm that the travel had taken place as stated in the claims. In some instances, telecommunications records suggested that the employee did not return to Ottawa the same day. Instead, the telecommunications records showed that the employee was in the Montréal area early in the morning on the day after the event.
2. The employee stated that, although he works in Ottawa, he frequently stays in the Montréal area, particularly when the Senate is not sitting. He also stated that the travel claims were prepared on the basis of the principle that employees who work in Ottawa indicate Ottawa as the travel departure point and final destination. We asked the Senator to provide us with documents to support the travel claims. The Senator did not provide such documentation. According to the Senators’ Travel Policy, employees cannot be reimbursed for travel to their workplace in Ottawa.
3. On the basis of the information that was available to us, we determined that the employee submitted travel claims that did not reflect the distance actually travelled. The total travel costs were $3,538.
4. To determine the extent of this practice, we reviewed expense claims for travel incurred by the Senator’s staff after the period of the audit. We found similar expense claims for seven trips in the 2013–14 fiscal year, and seven trips in the 2014–15 fiscal year.
The Senator’s comments
- I completely disagree with the findings of the OAG.
- The OAG’s findings are based on adverse doubts and inferences—not on facts, as they should have been.
- The employee participated in all the events reviewed by the OAG and we provided documentation in our possession as required at the time by the Senate finance division.
- Each of the trips was undertaken to accompany me on activities outside the Capital region or for meetings related to my parliamentary duties.
- Under its mandate, the OAG could have easily undertaken additional checks to confirm a number of public events in which the employee participated.
- None of the employee’s claims were “for travel to their workplace in Ottawa,” as stated in one of the OAG’s findings.
- The Senate finance division occasionally asked for further details and documentation regarding some of the trips subject to audit, and it always appeared to be satisfied with the responses it received before it issued reimbursement.
- At no time did the Senate Administration or the OAG provide to me a copy of a policy specifying the process for claiming employee travel expenses to support one of the OAG’s adverse findings.
- My policy adviser undertook many trips as part of his job without claiming reimbursement, in order to comply with recognized Senate rules.
- At all times, we carefully monitored my office expenses, which in all respects were below the limits set by the Senate Administration.
- However, the issue raised by the OAG’s findings—that is, the rules governing employee travel—seems to me very important and should be dealt with in the administrative overhaul envisaged for the Senate.