When the dust settles on the independent audit of Senator Pamela Wallin, the now maligned former broadcaster could owe the Senate — and, by extension, Canadian taxpayers — $140,000.
While Wallin has repaid $38,000 already, she is still on the hook for another $82,000 for certain, with the possibility of an additional $20,000 that remains in question.
In a process that Wallin has reportedly said was "fundamentally flawed and unfair," the former Conservative senator's expense claims — in particular related to her travel — were questionable.
At issue in particular are travel expenses between Ottawa and Toronto and stops made in Toronto en route to Saskatchewan, according to an anonymous source cited by the Globe and Mail.
Wallin is not the only senator currently embroiled in an expense scandal, but in Saskatchewan she is arguably the most high-profile — in no small part because she is supposed to be serving this province.
To her credit, she has vowed to repay the expenses with interest. To her detriment, she shouldn't have to be in a position where she needs to make such a vow.
Her actions, and the actions of her peers who are facing similar accusations, have cast a shadow on the organization to which they all belong — and a vital organization in the history of this country's politics.
When the news of the scandals first began to break, Canadians were already reciting their abolishment raps.
But the Senate remains an important institution, if for no other reason than its position as the House of Sober Second Thought. Their role is to act as a check to the power of the House of Commons.
In essence, the Senate exists to prevent circumstances where a tyranny of the majority could result in unjust or unrealistic legislation.
When it functions properly, the Senate is a cornerstone of this nation's good governance. When it functions poorly, it's a great shame.