Source: Toronto Star
Pamela Wallin has been entitled to at least $1 million in fees and stock options for her role on corporate boards since becoming a senator.
OTTAWA—Pamela Wallin has a lucrative life outside politics, where she has been entitled to roughly $1 million in fees and stock options for her role on corporate boards since being appointed to the Senate.
The Star looked through public company profiles, her disclosures to the Senate ethics office and expenses related to her former role as chancellor at the University of Guelph to paint a picture of her non-political activities in advance of the release of a review of her travel expenses by the forensic accounting firm Deloitte.
The Star reported last month that a preliminary review of expenses by external auditors displayed a pattern of claiming Senate expenses on personal business, including her involvement with boards, according to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity in the absence of authorization to discuss the matter.
Deloitte was then asked to extend its probe back to when Wallin, who left the Conservative caucus last month, was appointed to the Senate.
The review of Wallin’s spending could come up behind closed doors at a meeting of the Senate internal economy committee Thursday morning.
The senator from Saskatchewan declined to answer questions about the review, her activities related to corporate boards and other organizations or reports she has already repaid $40,000 — in two separate payments — in improperly claimed expenses.
“As we have said several times, we are awaiting the final report on the audit before we make any comment. I trust you understand that it’s better for everyone to be dealing with facts,” Wallin wrote in a statement emailed Wednesday by her staffer Mark Fisher.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he had not been briefed on what the auditors have found.
“I am aware that the audit has taken considerable time and considerable issues remain unresolved. Beyond that, I am not aware of any particulars,” Harper told the House of Commons during question period.
Harper also said he asked Nigel Wright — who resigned days after it was revealed he wrote Sen. Mike Duffy a personal cheque to cover $90,172 in inappropriately claimed living expenses — if he had a similar arrangement with any other senator.
“He said no,” Harper told the Commons.
Like many senators, Wallin participates in outside activities, which she reports to the Senate ethics officer, who publishes some details in annual disclosure summaries.
Wallin has been on the board of directors for Gluskin Sheff & Associates Inc., a wealth management firm with offices in Toronto and Calgary, since July 31, 2006 and is also on its compensation, nominating and governance committee.
Management information circulars filed in advance of annual shareholder meetings show that as of last October, Wallin had earned more than $330,000 in cash, deferred share units and options-based awards since 2009, which covers the period since she became a senator.
She attended all but one of the 39 meetings she was eligible to attend during that period. Gluskin Sheff has not responded to a question about when and where the meetings took place.
Wallin is also on the board for Porter Airlines, which, as a privately held company, is not required to publish compensation given to its directors.
However, in 2010, Porter Aviation Holdings Inc. prepared a prospectus in advance of an anticipated initial public offering and disclosed that Wallin was expected to earn more than $20,000 in fees that year.
Between June 28, 2007 and Dec. 20, 2011, Wallin was on the board of directors and governance and nominating committee for Oilsands Quest, Inc., a Calgary-based exploration company that has since gone bankrupt and sold its assets to Cenovus Energy, Inc.
Company documents show she earned nearly $648,000 in cash and offered option awards from Oilsands Quest during the period coinciding with her time as a senator.
From Mar. 6, 2007 to Mar. 31, 2011, Wallin was chancellor at the University of Guelph, where she did not receive a salary but was reimbursed about $24,600 in travel and hospitality expenses for related events, which mainly included attending three sets of convocation ceremonies per year.
Since September 2010, Wallin’s disclosure summaries have also listed her as being either a member or on the advisory board for the Ideas Council, which her latest report says pays her an unspecified honorarium over $2,000.
The Star could find no record of the Ideas Council — it is neither registered as a business with Industry Canada nor as charity with the Canada Revenue Agency and it could not be located online or in media archives — and Wallin did not provide more information when asked about it in an email Wednesday.
Wallin has also been president and member of the board for Prime Media Group, described in a 2009 disclosure summary as “a personal services company and investment holding company.”
She was also on the board of directors for CTV Globemedia, Inc., which Bell bought in 2011, and Jade Tower, Inc., a wireless infrastructure start-up since renamed SBA Canada following a majority investment by SBA Communications Corp. of Boca Raton, Fla., in 2009.
Details about any compensation Wallin received for these roles were not available.
Wallin is slated to earn $135,200 in basic Senate salary this year.