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Senator resigns, repays Canadian government for improper expense claims

Mac Harb, one of four senators accused of submitting improper expense claims, has resigned and paid back $231,649 to the Canadian government.

The veteran Liberal politician refunded all of the living-related expenses in question in a scandal that has reopened a debate on whether to abolish the non-elected Senate.

"My dispute with the Senate committee on Internal Economy made working effectively in the Senate unrealistic," he said.

The Mounties continue to investigate Harb's expenses concerning compensation paid because he said his main residence was outside the capital region.

Attorney Paul Champ said an independent audit did not determine that Harb violated any rules but the rules themselves weren't clear.

Harb, 59, could have remained in the Senate until age 75 and was earlier a Member of Parliament for 15 years.

Three other senators named in the inappropriate claims' audits are also being investigated by the police.

Mike Duffy has paid back $90,172, Pamela Wallin has returned $38,369 and must repay an additional $100,000 for improper travel expenses, and Patrick Brazeau has been asked to pay back $48,745.

Popular question for politicians: smoke pot?

Who smoked pot, regardless of whether they inhaled, is a pop culture question for Canadian politicians.

This started after Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau acknowledged he has used marijuana and wants the law changed to legalize and regulate the drug.

Now Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has acknowledged she smoked pot "very, very infrequently" 35 years ago.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who gained international notoriety denying he used crack cocaine after an alleged video of him using the drug surfaced, says he has smoked marijuana.

"I won't deny that — I smoked a lot of it," said Ford, who was arrested for marijuana possession in Florida in the 1990s.

"Do I seem like I smoke marijuana?" Prime Minister Stephen Harper said when asked, adding that asthma prevents him from smoking anything.

News in brief

• Vancouver has been named the "best place to live" in North America in the annual Economist Intelligence Unit liveability survey. Canada's west coast city was third in the world behind Melbourne, Australia, and Vienna, and had perfect scores for health care, education, culture and environment. Toronto was fourth while Calgary ranked fifth. Damascus, Syria, was last on the list.

• Health officials have linked bacteria in maple bacon jam used as a topping on a popular hamburger to the gastrointestinal ailments in 150 people at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. Epic Burgers and Waffles, which served the cronut burger — a croissant/doughnut filled with a beef patty and cheese — has reopened after the problem was traced to a supplier of the jam, not the burger.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar has dipped to 95.05 cents U.S., while the U.S. dollar is valued at $1.0520 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is steady at 1 percent, and the prime-lending rate is 3 percent.

Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 12,721 points and the TSX Venture index at 937 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Aug. 28) 13, 17, 19, 22, 28 and 46; bonus 38. (Aug.24) 2, 8, 32, 36, 47 and 49; bonus 33. Lotto Max: (Aug. 23) 5, 6, 10, 17, 22, 36 and 48; bonus 3.

Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com.

Senator resigns, repays Canadian government for improper expense claims 08/30/13 [Last modified: Saturday, August 31, 2013 1:51am]
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