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Senate scandal stirs up scrutiny

The Senate expense scandal is the talk of the town in Belleville these days.  At downtown cafe Sweet Escape, it's on the menu.  Photo: Amanda Lorbetski [1]

The Senate expense scandal is the talk of the town in Belleville. QNet News talked to some residents at downtown cafe Sweet Escape. Photo: Amanda Lorbetski

By Amanda Lorbetski

Whether you’re a politician, a political junkie or neither, you probably hold an opinion on the recent Senate expense scandal.

The scandal revolves around three senators appointed as Conservatives by Prime Minster Stephen Harper. On Tuesday the Senate suspended Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin without pay, but with health and insurance benefits, after government audits discovered that the trio had claimed hundreds of thousands of dollars in false expenses.

The situation is eliciting mixed reactions around Quinte.

Prince Edward-Hastings MP Daryl Kramp, a Conservative, said Canadians are blaming the Senate as a whole for the wrongdoing of three senators.

But Prince Edward-Hastings Federal Liberal Association president John Brisbois said the real issue is the involvement of the office of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper in handling the scandal.

“This is ultimate control by Mr. Harper, and you know, Mr. Kramp knows that. I mean, he’s part of the party.”

Not surprisingly, local residents are talking about the scandal.

While chatting at Belleville coffee shop Sweet Escape, David Comeau said there’s corruption at all levels of government.

The politicians “have no idea what the rest of us live like,” said Comeau. “The poor Canadians just can’t live the way these guys do, and we’re giving them money to do what they’re doing – nothing.”

He gave Harper a fair chance, he said, but the Senate scandal seals his ballot for the next election: he’s voting Liberal.

Theresa Markila, owner of the Coffee with Friends catering company, had a similar view.

“The fact that (the Conservatives) don’t answer questions, they hide from the media (and) they’ve changed their story a number of times really makes it seem like they’re hiding something,” said Markila. “I’d like to see them stand up and actually talk to us about what’s going on, so we can get a better understanding.”

At the end of the day, Canadians just want openness from their government so that they can be part of the parliamentary process, she said.