Senator Nicole Eaton
Appendix B—Files recommended for review by the Standing Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration Senator Nicole Eaton
Appointment date: 2 January 2009
For the period from 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2013
|Total amount of items referred to the Internal Economy Committee
(including applicable taxes)
|Amount repaid after 5 June 2013 and before 7 May 2015||$3,489|
We found instances of travel expenses claimed by the Senator that were not for parliamentary business.
1. The Senator served as a director and vice-chair of a foundation and a not-for-profit organization. During the audit period, we found four trips where the Senator travelled from Ottawa to Toronto and back the following day, to attend board meetings or events in Toronto. These trips were taken mid-week, while the Senate was sitting, and were expensed as being parliamentary business. The Senator stated that the Senate Administration had told her that she was allowed to travel mid-week to her city of primary residence, which she had declared as Toronto. We determined that these trips were incurred to pursue the personal interests of the Senator. The incremental cost of these trips, including airfare and other related charges, less an estimate for accommodations not used in Ottawa, was $3,489.
The Senator’s comments
- The four trips in question were allowed under Senate rules, as they were part of my “parliamentary functions” as defined in the Senate Administrative Rules.
- I serve on boards of a foundation and not-for-profit organizations. These include the St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation, the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, the National Ballet of Canada and the Gardiner Museum.
- I receive no compensation or personal gain of any kind for so doing.
- Participation in these organizations should not be characterized as “personal interests”. Rather, it is voluntary community service. It is part of public business, as defined in the Senate rules. My efforts in support of the charities to which I dedicate my extra time are constructive, productive and in no way conflict with my work in the Senate of Canada.
- I had to return to Toronto, where I reside, for meetings of these organizations. These meetings took place in the middle of sitting weeks.
- I decided that, rather than stay home after such meetings, I would come back to Ottawa in order to be present at committees and sittings of the Senate.
- The Senate has a 64-point travel system. The policy does not require a Senator to do only one trip per week.
- These four trips were accepted by Senate Administration.
- I conduct my affairs in the spirit of honour and integrity. I take the responsibility to do so very seriously. I also operate my office in a spirit of austerity; in the reporting period of this audit I have returned $74,318 in unspent office budget.
- The OAG raises 2 issues: a) is a Parliamentarian expected to stay in Ottawa all week, or is travel between the residence/constituency and Ottawa in the middle of a sitting week allowed? And b) is participation by a Senator in pro-bono activities part of parliamentary functions?
- I understand that these questions will be submitted to the Board of Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration. I think that the issues raised by the OAG, as they are potentially applicable to all Senators, deserve to be reviewed carefully. This will help the institution to clarify its rules, and help all Senators determine how they can get involved in community and charitable work.
- I hereby remit the identified sum of $3,489.00.