October 22, 2006

Oct. 22, 2006: Senatorial junket

Apparently, this was a $30,000 junket ... reason enough to question.

Editorial: A senatorial junket, Oct. 19, 06, NatPost


In September, Mr. [Senator Colin] Kenny, three other committee members and three support staff found themselves holed up in a posh hotel in Dubai. The purpose of their excursion remains questionable.

On the one hand the trip is being billed as a fact-finding mission that was supposed to take the group to Kandahar, the southern, war-torn province of Afghanistan where Canadians are leading the battle against Taliban insurgents. On the other hand, Senator Michael Meighen, who was on the trip, has told the media that it was merely a bid to show support for our troops.

Either way, the odds of finding facts or demonstrating support were poor. The Canadian Forces warned the group of senators beforehand that there wasn't much chance of them reaching Kandahar for security reasons. That should have been enough to stop the trip. The Canadian Forces are strained to the limit already without having to escort a small group of senators and their staff on a tour. [....]

Was there a plausible explanation? Or was the potential for an elected senate part of this furor?

Note videos: at right

CTV Newsnet: Sen. Colin Kenny on the charges 6:12
CTV Newsnet: Sen. Colin Kenny answers questions pt. 1 1:04
CTV Newsnet: Tommy Banks, Senator for Alberta 5:49
CTV Newsnet: Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reacts 2:03
CTV News: Graham Richardson with the spending 2:18

Note related text: Document confirms senators warned against trip, CTV.ca News Staff. With a report by CTV's Graham Richardson in Ottawa, Oct. 19 2006 11:15 PM ET

Four senators who spent an expensive week in Dubai while trying to reach Afghanistan were warned against the trip, a document has revealed.

CTV News broke the story earlier this week about the National Security Committee fact-finding trip, and Senator Tommy Banks lashed out.

[....] A document obtained by CTV News shows the military met with Kenny in his office on Sept. 2 -- one week before the senators reached Dubai.

An official in the office of the vice chief of defence staff writes in the document:
"During the meeting Canadian Forces officials provided an operational update explaining that for reasons of personal safety, the committee would no longer be able to travel to Kandahar."

Senators blasted for expensive Dubai junket , Oct. 18 2006 8:30 AM ET, CTV.ca News Staff


Canadian senators waited in an expensive Dubai hotel for seven days after a failed attempt to reach Afghanistan when the military had warned them not to attempt the trip in the first place, CTV News has learned. [....]

There is a problem within the Senate over the fact that the Conservatives would like to change to an elected Senate, as opposed to appointed to a sinecure at the will of the Prime Minister ... until age 75. Makes sense to me; however, the tone on CTV Newsnet is negative sounding re: Conservative government and much time has been devoted to Senator Colin Kenny's speech and answers to questions explaining the cost of his committee's Dubai stay which lasted too long, according to him, because they could not follow their original plan.

In Senator Kenny's defense, I do know that during El Eid, it is virtually impossible to get anything done in the Muslim world, at least in some parts of it. I know someone who was stuck in Dhaka / Dacca, Bangladesh, unable to get a flight out, unable to get a hotel room for hours. It is not a happy situation so Sen. Kenny's explanation for having to stay in Dubai rang true if they could not fly to Kandahar and could not get a flight home. Check further on this.

Unfortunately, it was not clear who were asking which questions, so note that, as you listen. I missed the names, though I did catch Julie Van Dusen's dulcet tones so CBC will report on this, undoubtedly, ad nauseam.

Another source: Angry senators allege possible smear campaign , Updated Fri. Oct. 20 2006 10:06 AM ET, CTV.ca News Staff. With files from The Canadian Press


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