CORRECTED, Aug. 22, 2013: When Bill C-18, the legislation wrecking the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) was rapidly making its way through the House and Senate in 2011 it became clear that neither of the two standing committees on agriculture were going to come to the Prairies. As a result nearly 40 farmers from across the Prairies travelled to Ottawa at their own expense to meet with their elected and appointed representatives about why the elimination of the single desk of the CWB was an ill-advised move for Canadian agriculture.
My job was to call every senator to set up a time when they could meet with a couple of these concerned farmers. Over three weeks, I made hundreds of phone calls and was only able to set up a couple of dozen meetings.
Many senators were unavailable and some outright refused to meet with our delegation. One of those who refused was Senator Pamela Wallin. The same Pamela Wallin who, when pressed on her living expense scandal, proudly trumpets her roots in Wadena, Saskatchewan.
Maybe Senator Wallin has been away from the Prairies for so long, in the newsroom and the Senate, that she has forgotten one of the great traits of this province: hospitality. We were not asking her to fly to Saskatchewan to meet with us, we went to her and she would not give us the time of day. If Senator Wallin showed up unannounced at any farm in Saskatchewan, dollars to doughnuts says that she would be invited in for a cup of coffee. Yet when Saskatchewan farmers were at her office doorstep for three weeks, she would not extend that same courtesy.
Senator Wallin’s main defence over her expenses is that she represents Saskatchewan in Ottawa and is a de facto ambassador of the province. This is where any pity I could muster for the senator goes out the window. If she is such a tireless representative of the people of Saskatchewan, why would she not meet with any of the Saskatchewan farmers who had paid for their own flights, hotels and meals to make it as easy as possible to have a meeting with her?
I could forgive Pamela Wallin if she had simply made a clerical error on her expense forms, but I cannot and will not forgive her because she is fraudulently claiming her expenses for being nothing more than an appointed cheerleader for the PMO.
So, if Senator Wallin is publicly pilloried and, hopefully, dismissed from the Red Chamber over her inability to claim her expenses properly it will be unfortunate that it took a fraud case to get it done. She, and many of her colleagues in the Senate (from both parties and the independents), should have been receiving this treatment for years for their complete and utter dereliction of duty to their ‘constituents.’
We are the people she was appointed to represent and she refused to meet with us. It seems that the only people being represented by Senator Wallin are her glorious benefactors, in the Conservative Party of Canada.
— Matt Gehl farms near Regina. The version of this piece appearing on page 5 in the Aug. 15, 2013 edition of the Manitoba Co-operator incorrectly attributed it to Bill Gehl, Matt’s father. We apologize for the error.