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Brian Peckford weighs in on Senate scandal

Qualicum Beach resident is surprised at the alleged actions of senators and former journalists Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin
Brian Peckford wades into the ongoing Senate scandal

The fallout from the recent senate scandal which has revealed spending abuses and resulted in two former journalists being pushed out of the Conservative caucus has more than a few tongues wagging.

One of those tongues belongs to Qualicum Beach resident Brian Peckford.

Stephen Harper and his government continue to make headlines as more details come to light. The matter, which has now been turned over to the RCMP, has cost the job of the prime minister’s chief of staff Nigel Wright, and disgraced Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy.

The two journalists are well known to former Newfoundland Premier Brian Peckford, who now calls Qualicum Beach his home.

The NEWS caught up with Peckford recently to get his take on the debacle and he admitted he thinks the whole matter is awful.

“The two journalists, Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin both interviewed me a lot and they were active in Ottawa journalism when I was the premier of Newfoundland. I sat down with them many many times so I was flabbergasted that they would be the ones who sort of flogged the expense rules and so on for their own benefit.”

He pointed out that the problem of how public money is spent is not just a problem in the Senate, but in all parts of Canadian public life.

“You know here in the province right now in British Columbia one of my pet peeves is the fact that the auditor general has said here that we don’t know how the money is spent in the legislature in B.C.”

Peckford said he has never agreed with the Senate and that is why he is not currently sitting as a senator.

“I was offered a Senate seat but I turned it down,” he said. “I don’t know how many in Canada turn down that lucrative offer but I did and for the reasons that most ordinary Newfoundlanders and Canadians would know … I didn’t agree with the Senate.  I thought if it wasn’t elected it’s not accountable and therefore should not be so I actually advocated the abolition of the Senate 20 years ago.”

Peckford added that he thinks it will be almost impossible to reform the Senate.

“You will be able to reform the reporting procedures and the expenses and all that,” he said. “That will be done I am sure — now that this has happened —but the whole other thing opens up the constitution and you need seven out of 10 provinces, about 50 percent plus of the population and a lot of provinces will say if you are going to open the constitution then I want to see this changed  — and I want to see that changed.

“If you could open the constitution on one topic … the Senate, and then get it done and close it again then fine … but that’s not going to happen.  As soon as anybody talks about opening the constitution there are a lot of problems.”

Peckford agreed that if it would become an effective elected Senate that would be fine, but he said it’s unlikely that will happen.