Marshall mum on advice about AG's access

Rob Antle
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Former N.L. auditor general now sits on Senate committee that is blocking oversight

She's the former provincial auditor general who first uncovered wrongdoing in MHA constituency allowance spending in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Now she sits on one of the secretive committees of politicians that is barring the federal auditor general from examining parliamentary spending in Ottawa.

Senator Elizabeth Marshall is a member of the Senate's internal economy committee, which is currently considering a request by the federal auditor general to review Parliament's books. Marshall is a former provincial auditor general who faced the issue fr

Ottawa -

She's the former provincial auditor general who first uncovered wrongdoing in MHA constituency allowance spending in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Now she sits on one of the secretive committees of politicians that is barring the federal auditor general from examining parliamentary spending in Ottawa.

The irony is not lost on Senator Elizabeth Marshall.

But while Marshall won't say just what she is telling her colleagues on the Senate's internal economy committee, she confirms she is making her opinions known.

"Well, the best way for me to respond to that is to say the issue has come up at our meetings, and you know, I speak to it," Marshall said in a recent interview at her office in Parliament's Centre Block.

Marshall said there is a subcommittee that looks after audit issues, and steered inquiries to that body.

But how does she personally feel?

"I don't think my personal opinion, at this point in time, is something that I'd want to get into," Marshall said.

She declined to say publicly "at this stage" what she is telling her colleagues.

Auditor General Sheila Fraser has asked to audit the more than $500 million a year spent at Parliament. There are two groups of politicians blocking that access.

One is the board of internal economy for the House of Commons. The other is the internal economy committee of the Senate. Marshall sits on the Senate's committee.

Politicians have not been keen on Fraser's request. Senator Lowell Murray suggested to a Senate committee last week that politicians are not comfortable with potential problems being unearthed on Parliament Hill.

"The concern that senators have - I can only speak for myself - my sense of their concern is that you have such a high media profile, and there have been these other examples in other jurisdictions that if you were to do any kind of examination and find anything amiss - I am sure you would find something that needed to be corrected or improved - that there would immediately be a scandal," Murray said.

Murray later noted that "we are individuals, and we must go back to our communities and deal with this kind of thing."

A decade ago, when Marshall was auditor general in Newfoundland and Labrador, she uncovered questionable spending at the legislature.

Provincial politicians moved quickly, ejecting her auditors from the House and ramming through a law change to block them under the guise of a simple modernization of legislation.

Three years later, in 2003, the newly-elected Williams administration reversed the ban.

Marshall's successor as auditor general ultimately uncovered wild abuses of legislative spending. Subsequent police probes led to six people being convicted on corruption charges. Politicians from all three parties served jail time.

After wrapping up her tenure as auditor general, Marshall went on to win a seat in the provincial legislature for the Tories in 2003.

She briefly served in cabinet as health minister before leaving in a dispute over Premier Danny Williams' management style, after Williams settled an issue in her department without her knowledge.

Marshall remained on the backbenches until the prime minister appointed her to the Senate earlier this year.

rantle@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Senate committee, House of Commons

Geographic location: Ottawa, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Mark
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    It's always easier to bring hypocrisy to the Senate than to bring democracy to the Senate. She'll fit in just fine.

  • in the name of...
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    The House ejected the auditors and the law was changed to keep them out ?!? No one can argue this is not a prime example of the correct use of the term CORRUPTION. It applies to the ENTIRE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY for that collective vote. Now, as a people, what do we do from here to combat this corruption ?

  • Brian
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    Politicians, they only want to look after themselves, the people elected these fools to look after out interests with our tax dollars.
    What a joke!!! Open the books and finally see who's ripping off who. Most would probably never get elected again. The taxpayers should mount a protest and demand the audit be done and nothing less will do. With help from the media this should be kept on the front pages until government agrees to have audit done. Lets see what Harper does now!

  • David
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    When they vote not to have an audit, their guilty.

  • Everett
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Ms. Marshall was so excited when she was appointed to the Senate. She said it was quite an honour, & she looked forward to working for the people of Canada. Bob Wakeham had a very funny piece on it, but it's not in the Telegram's archives. IMO, she was just glad to get away from Danny Williams, & retire to the solitude of the Senate. This is the first time I have heard her name since she was appointed in January.

    We should remember that she was also mentioned in John Noseworthy's report, for double claiming of expenses, & buying booze separately from anything else. The amounts were not that great, but she should know better, & any inappropriate spending by a former Auditor General is just not right. She also kept quiet when every member except herself & the Premier, took an allowance that they were not entitled to. She should have spoken up then.

    I bet she does not want the Federal Auditor General auditing either the House of Commons, or the Senate.

    Ms. Marshall, enjoy your retirement in the Senate. I bet most Newfoundlanders hear very little news about our Senators, & what they are doing. I feel that most people do not even know how many Senators represent Newfoundland, nor do they know their names.

  • Patty
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Every dime that an MP, MHA or Senator spends of our tax dollars should be made available to us TAXPAYERS at the click of a button. Which, by the way, is quite easy to accomplish.

    Seriously, I understand a politician spending a few bucks on a pizza lunch for thier staff, or whatever, it's called morale building... But lets REALLY get into it and see what they are REALLY spending on it.

    Maybe I'll run for office and my goal and entire platform will be to bust open all this.. :)

  • bill
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    if there is nothing to hide then why not let the Auditor in

  • Rob
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    I would just like to confirm the accuracy of the first paragraph of the story, in response to a comment made in a previous post. It is a matter of public record that auditors from the AGs office, under Elizabeth Marshall, uncovered questionable spending related to art purchases and entertainment expenses charged to constituency funds in 2000. After that discovery, but before the audit was complete, the House ejected the auditors and the law was changed to keep them out. This all publicly came to light in 2002, after Ms. Marshall issued a report in her role as AG.

  • Taxpayer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    As I recall no art purchases were questioned in the subsequent scandal and entertainment expenses were a small part of the court case. These problems might have come up in any audit without there have ever being a larger scandal.

  • chris
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    ll I have to say is something smells fishy federally .

  • Rick
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Of course there should be an audit of the Senate and Parliament.

    Perhaps Mr. Page can be seconded from policing the Cons to assist the federal AG. There we'd have two honest brokers.

    With respect to Ms. Marshall, she may be tainted just by being associated with King Steve.

  • chris
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Time for these people to do terms and be voted in by the people of this country.

  • Taxpayer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Rob since the first sentence in your story is wrong how can I put much credence in the rest of your story. Marshall did not uncover wrongdoing in the MHA's expenses. She asked to examine them and was told NO. I have not heard whether she did anymore than report the fact in her report. John Linden Noseworthy was the Auditor General who examined the expenses and filed a report. What you might ask Marshall about is since she was appointed by Harper to pass legislation through the Senate and not delay it like the Liberal were accused of doing, will she do that or will she do her job as a Senator and do a proper review of the legislation before passing it.

  • Chris
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    'Now she sits on one of the secretive committees of politicians that is barring the federal auditor general from examining parliamentary spending in Ottawa.

    What a hypocrite.

  • Mark
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    It's always easier to bring hypocrisy to the Senate than to bring democracy to the Senate. She'll fit in just fine.

  • in the name of...
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    The House ejected the auditors and the law was changed to keep them out ?!? No one can argue this is not a prime example of the correct use of the term CORRUPTION. It applies to the ENTIRE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY for that collective vote. Now, as a people, what do we do from here to combat this corruption ?

  • Brian
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    Politicians, they only want to look after themselves, the people elected these fools to look after out interests with our tax dollars.
    What a joke!!! Open the books and finally see who's ripping off who. Most would probably never get elected again. The taxpayers should mount a protest and demand the audit be done and nothing less will do. With help from the media this should be kept on the front pages until government agrees to have audit done. Lets see what Harper does now!

  • David
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    When they vote not to have an audit, their guilty.

  • Everett
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    Ms. Marshall was so excited when she was appointed to the Senate. She said it was quite an honour, & she looked forward to working for the people of Canada. Bob Wakeham had a very funny piece on it, but it's not in the Telegram's archives. IMO, she was just glad to get away from Danny Williams, & retire to the solitude of the Senate. This is the first time I have heard her name since she was appointed in January.

    We should remember that she was also mentioned in John Noseworthy's report, for double claiming of expenses, & buying booze separately from anything else. The amounts were not that great, but she should know better, & any inappropriate spending by a former Auditor General is just not right. She also kept quiet when every member except herself & the Premier, took an allowance that they were not entitled to. She should have spoken up then.

    I bet she does not want the Federal Auditor General auditing either the House of Commons, or the Senate.

    Ms. Marshall, enjoy your retirement in the Senate. I bet most Newfoundlanders hear very little news about our Senators, & what they are doing. I feel that most people do not even know how many Senators represent Newfoundland, nor do they know their names.

  • Patty
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Every dime that an MP, MHA or Senator spends of our tax dollars should be made available to us TAXPAYERS at the click of a button. Which, by the way, is quite easy to accomplish.

    Seriously, I understand a politician spending a few bucks on a pizza lunch for thier staff, or whatever, it's called morale building... But lets REALLY get into it and see what they are REALLY spending on it.

    Maybe I'll run for office and my goal and entire platform will be to bust open all this.. :)

  • bill
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    if there is nothing to hide then why not let the Auditor in

  • Rob
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    I would just like to confirm the accuracy of the first paragraph of the story, in response to a comment made in a previous post. It is a matter of public record that auditors from the AGs office, under Elizabeth Marshall, uncovered questionable spending related to art purchases and entertainment expenses charged to constituency funds in 2000. After that discovery, but before the audit was complete, the House ejected the auditors and the law was changed to keep them out. This all publicly came to light in 2002, after Ms. Marshall issued a report in her role as AG.

  • Taxpayer
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    As I recall no art purchases were questioned in the subsequent scandal and entertainment expenses were a small part of the court case. These problems might have come up in any audit without there have ever being a larger scandal.

  • chris
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    ll I have to say is something smells fishy federally .

  • Rick
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    Of course there should be an audit of the Senate and Parliament.

    Perhaps Mr. Page can be seconded from policing the Cons to assist the federal AG. There we'd have two honest brokers.

    With respect to Ms. Marshall, she may be tainted just by being associated with King Steve.

  • chris
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    Time for these people to do terms and be voted in by the people of this country.

  • Taxpayer
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    Rob since the first sentence in your story is wrong how can I put much credence in the rest of your story. Marshall did not uncover wrongdoing in the MHA's expenses. She asked to examine them and was told NO. I have not heard whether she did anymore than report the fact in her report. John Linden Noseworthy was the Auditor General who examined the expenses and filed a report. What you might ask Marshall about is since she was appointed by Harper to pass legislation through the Senate and not delay it like the Liberal were accused of doing, will she do that or will she do her job as a Senator and do a proper review of the legislation before passing it.

  • Chris
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    'Now she sits on one of the secretive committees of politicians that is barring the federal auditor general from examining parliamentary spending in Ottawa.

    What a hypocrite.