Senator Dennis Glen Patterson
Appendix B—Files recommended for review by the Standing Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration Senator Dennis Glen Patterson
Appointment date: 27 August 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||$6,200|
We found several instances of travel expenses claimed by the Senator that were not for parliamentary business.
1. From 27 to 31 October 2011, the Senator took a round trip from Ottawa to Vancouver for a fundraising event, and claimed travel expenses totalling $5,205. The Senator repaid this amount in full.
2. We found travel expenses totalling $995 for one trip in May 2011 to visit Pangnirtung, Nunavut. During the audit, the Senator repaid the amount of the claim, as the Senator stated that he believed that the expense did not meet the criteria for parliamentary business.
Findings—goods and services
We found several instances of goods and services claimed by the Senator that were not in accordance with the Senate’s rules, policies, or guidelines.
3. For each of the two years of the audit, the Senator awarded a contract to one of his full-time staff members to provide media monitoring services. In our view, the services were part of the employee’s regular duties. The contract was cancelled in 2014. The total expense for the two fiscal years was $3,023.
4. We found that the Senator’s office paid for legal services that were provided in the 2011–12 fiscal year, but that the Senator certified were performed in the 2012–13 fiscal year.
- Records we obtained from the law firm confirmed that the legal services had been provided by the end of October 2011. The Senator requested that the law firm split an invoice that the firm had submitted in 2011–12 into two invoices, so that part of the amount owing could be paid in 2011–12 and the balance in 2012–13.
- We found that the same invoice number appeared on the invoices that were provided in both fiscal years. The first version of the invoice stated “for professional services rendered to March 30, 2012”; the second version stated “for professional services,” without any reference to when the services were performed.
- The Senator stated that there had not been enough funds remaining in his 2011–12 research and office budget to pay the invoice. He also stated that, after exploring other avenues for payment within the Senate and being advised that no other budgets existed to pay the legal bills, he asked the law firm to reissue invoices so that a portion of the legal services could be paid in the following fiscal year. Had the amount been correctly charged to the 2011–12 fiscal year, $13,762 would have been paid directly by the Senator, or the Senator would have needed to obtain the approval of the Internal Economy Committee.
The Senator’s comments
- Only as a result of the Auditor General’s work did I become informed that there seems to be a Senate practice not to accept claims regarding fundraisers for charities. I therefore reimbursed the amount of the claim.
- As stated, the amount was reimbursed even before the audit.
- The staff member in question is my Policy Advisor. I also contracted the services of his already established media monitoring firm; this service was provided independently of his work as an employee and always outside this office, on his own time.
- It was never explained to me that an individual could not be both a contractor and an employee; this was done in good faith and was corrected as soon as it was pointed out to me.
- I was advised by the Law Clerk of the Senate to ask about the unique situation of a Senator representing the territory of Nunavut under the Constitution of Canada. He suggested an expert in constitutional law, who was also licensed to practice law in Nunavut.
- I thought, initially, that all the work could be done within the FY 2011-12, and within my limited office research budget.
- However, I soon was advised that the work required would be greater than originally anticipated, due to the complexity of the question.
- I asked Senate Administration officials (including the Clerk of the Senate and the Director of Finance) for advice on how to proceed to cover the amount that would be over budget.
- Unfortunately, no one in Senate Administration, including the Clerk of the Senate, informed me that I could have applied to the Board of Internal Economy to cover those legal fees under the Senate Legal Assistance and Indemnification Policy. That policy provides indemnification for outside legal advice for a Senator “...where the matter relates to the parliamentary functions of the Senator [and] the particulars of the case are such that it is otherwise appropriate for the Senate to assist,” which were clearly at stake in this constitutional matter.
- The additional work requested of the law firm was to be included with the second invoice issued in FY 2012–13. The law firm had amended the invoice to remove “for professional services rendered to March 30, 2012” because I was still waiting for a legal opinion in the new fiscal year. Unfortunately, this final deliverable was not received due to the lead lawyer on the file leaving the firm to set up his own law firm.
- It only became clear during the audit that I should not have had to use my research budget to pay for legal advice on a major constitutional issue. From the first time I sought advice from the Law Clerk of the Senate on this Constitutional matter and from the first time I realized that the legal work would be much more than anticipated, I informed and relied on the Senate Administration for their advice on how to proceed.