Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the ruling Conservative Party needs to steer away from a sense of entitlement amid an expenses scandal that has undermined his government’s popularity.
Harper, speaking to party members at a convention in Calgary, called on Senate lawmakers to suspend three of its members -- all former Conservatives that he appointed to the chamber -- accused of claiming ineligible expenses.
“Ours is not the party of entitlement, not guided by power or privilege,” Harper said, according to a prepared text of the speech. “We didn’t go to Ottawa to join private clubs or become part of some elite.”
Harper is trying to stem the biggest decline in his party’s popularity since his Conservatives took power in 2006. The expenses scandal has dominated parliamentary debate with opposition parties accusing the government of a cover-up.
“The Senate should do the right thing now, and suspend those senators without pay,” Harper said, referring to Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau.
The three face suspension from the upper house of the nation’s legislature over their expenses. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police alleged in documents filed in court today that Wallin may have committed criminal breach of trust and fraud by making “inappropriate” expense claims.
Nigel Wright, a former managing director at Toronto-based private-equity firm Onex Corp., resigned as Harper’s chief of staff in May amid a police investigation following the disclosure he paid about C$90,000 ($86,300) to Duffy to help cover ineligible expense claims.