Senators worry about the snail pace of ethic investigations by the Senate Ethics Office

The Canadian Politician (Toronto) – Concern is growing among senators regarding the slow pace of work of the Senate Ethics Officer, Pierre Legault. While ethics investigations are by nature meticulous, enduring and purposeful, the senators are concerned that the officer did not publish any inquiries in 2018, and that investigations that ought to have been concluded by now are still on-going with no end in sight.

According to senate records, the investigation into the sexual liaison with a teenage girl by former senator Don Meredith, is still outstanding in spite of the fact that the Harper appointed senator resigned almost two years ago over the affair. Senators wonder what could be impeding the investigations, especially given the departure of Meredith from red chambers.

Additionally, senators are concerned that there has been no progress in the case of Sen. Lynn Beyak, who is being investigated since 2018 for allegedly violating the senate’s ethics code when she published letters on her official senate website that were considered to have defended the Indian residential school system. This was a system where native children were snatched from their families and taken to residential schools designed to strip them of their culture.

There could be many reasons responsible for the slow pace, however, money would not be one of those reasons as senators believe that the office is well-funded with a $1.2 million budget to assist in its investigative work. Among the concerned senator is Sen. Frances Lankins, who noted that the snail pace is a matter of concern for many obvious reasons.  The senator inquired if the slow pace could be blamed on lack of funds or what she termed as “systemic cause” plaguing the Senator Ethics Office.

Much has been expected from Legault who was appointed by Trudeau as permanent Ethics officer after holding the post on a temporary basis. Given his vast experience in public service, senators believe that Legault should be able to conduct these investigations in a timely manner. The Senate Ethics committee has the authority under the ethics code to ask the SEO to provide updates on all outstanding inquiries.

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