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OTTAWA — The Senate’s deputy Speaker says auditor general Michael Ferguson’s restrictive definition of what constitutes a parliamentary function would hamper senators from engaging in community service in future.

Nicole Eaton says Ferguson has disallowed $3,489 worth of expense claims for four trips she made to her hometown of Toronto to attend meetings of not-for-profit boards on which she sits.

Eaton says she’ll reimburse the money and won’t appeal Ferguson’s decision to the special independent arbitrator, but she disagrees with his conclusion that the trips were aimed at advancing her “personal interests.”

She says she receives no remuneration for her work with non-profit groups like the St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation and the National Ballet of Canada.

She says she can’t see how it could be characterized as anything but a parliamentary function.

Eaton points out that the ethics and conflict of interest code for senators specifically declares that senators are expected to continue their activities in their communities and regions while serving the public interest.

The Canadian Press

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