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Wallin apologized publicly, saying there was no attempt to mislead.
But she showed a decided lack of contrition: she called Deloitte’s audit process “fundamentally flawed and unfair” and defined herself as “an activist senator-one who saw it as her job to advance causes that are important to Canadians.” She noted expenses previously approved were disallowed and she blasted “some arbitrary and undefined sense of what constitutes ‘Senate business’ or ‘common Senate practice.’ ” Wallin, who is divorced and has no children, has promised to repay the amount with interest.
Wallin had worked her way up from CBC Radio in Regina to the Toronto Star to co-host CTV’s Canada AM, then ran its Ottawa political bureau.
In the 1990s, she headed to CBC-TV, where she was the first woman to co-anchor the nightly national news.
Expenses were filed for a speech she didn’t give; her appointment calendar had been altered. David Tkachuk, who chaired the audit committee, told her to remove “irrelevant, private and personal” information; Tkachuk denied that, and said he told her “keep her calendar clean.”) Of 94 flights Wallin took, only 11 of them were direct between Ottawa and Saskatchewan, the province she represents; often she spent multiple nights in Toronto between flights.
The revelation that Wallin spends most of her time in Toronto, though she owns a house in Wadena, has given rise to unresolved questions about her residency.
She doesn’t have the luxury of saying, “Oh, I’m at this dinner party and I’m not a senator right now.” Even Wallin’s most vocal critics, both Liberals and Conservatives, don’t believe she set out to abuse the system. She defended the PM and his policies wherever she went-a dinner party in Toronto or a barbecue in Saskatoon.” Now, ironically, the public profile that made Wallin useful to the Harper government renders her beneficial in another way: as a bigger symbol of Senate malfeasance than the rogue’s gallery of senators-Michel Cogger, Andrew Thompson, Eric Berntson, et al.-all guilty of greater offences.
Wallin also was an in-demand headliner, hosting “cultural weekends” in Ontario cottage country with her old friend Garth Drabinksy and appearing as an emcee and speaker. She loved being her own boss, Wallin told January magazine: “Getting fired, for me, was absolutely the best thing that ever happened.” She vowed her days working in big organizations were over: “I didn’t like working in bureaucracies and in structures that were filled with committees and where old boys’ gangs made the decisions.” RELATED: Twelve years later those words take on ironic resonance.
The nation rooted for her when Wallin was unceremoniously dumped by the CBC in 1995, and again when she confronted the Big C in 2001.
By the time she was shilling her book about success-a bestseller-she’d reinvented herself yet again as Pamela Wallin, Inc., an entrepreneur selling Pamela Wallin the brand.
And you’re Pam Wallin 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” says Shelley Ambrose, co-publisher of the Walrus magazine and Wallin’s right hand in New York.
“Senate business to Pamela is everything she’s doing because she’s 24-7. She will go anywhere she’s invited-five things a night; she thinks it’s her duty.But her diva ways alienated many-senators and, more lethally, her own staff. Ambrose blames Stephen Harper, who appointed Wallin and Duffy for their marquee value: “He knew who she was. Wallin is being singled out, says Ambrose: “What they’re having to do is attack Pam’s character-Pamela is bad, Pamela screwed the system.