The powerful Senate Internal Economy Committee will hold meetings over the summer to examine in detail the recommendations from the auditor general’s report, choosing which ones to implement and how. Senate spokesperson Nancy Durning told The Hill Times the auditor general’s recommendations were referred to the subcommittees of the Committee on Internal Economy, with meetings expected over the summer. In his unprecedented audit of the Senators’ expenses, Auditor General Michael Ferguson examined 80,000 expense claims of 116 Senators between April 1, 2011 to March 30, 2013. In the report provided to the Senate last month, the AG identified 30 current and former Conservative and Liberal Senators who misspent about $1-million dollars. He recommended the Internal Economy Committee refer nine of the most egregious cases to the Mounties. The committee has set up an arbitration process for the Senators who dispute the audit findings, led by former Supreme Court Justice Ian Binnie. The senior Senate leadership from both parties—Speaker Leo Housakos (Wellington, Que.), deputy speaker Nicole Eaton (Ontario), Government Senate Leader Claude Carignan (Mille Isles, Que.) and Liberal Leader James Cowan (Nova Scotia)—are among the 30 Senators whose expenses have been questioned by Mr. Ferguson. All four have denied any wrongdoing but have paid back the flagged amounts, saying they won’t take their cases to Justice Binnie to protect the integrity of the process. Some of the other 30 Senators have also paid back either the full or partial amounts. In addition to identifying misspent money, Mr. Ferguson made recommendations on how to make the Senate more transparent, including creating an oversight body independent of the Senate to oversee expenses. The Red Chamber’s annual budget is about $100-million. Newfoundland and Labrador Conservative Sen. David Wells, chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Estimates, told The Hill Times that his committee would meet over the summer months and also in the fall before Parliament returns to examine Mr. Ferguson’s recommendations. Other committee members include Alberta Conservative Sen. Scott Tannas, Quebec Conservative Sen. Larry Smith, Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Sen. George Furey and Nova Scotia Liberal Sen. Jane Cordy. Sen. Wells said the Senate Subcommittee on Communications would also meet over the coming months to look at how Senators can better communicate with Canadians about their legislative work and its importance. The Communications Committee is chaired by Speaker Housakos and other members include Saskatchewan Sen. Denise Batters, Sen. Cordy and Alberta Liberal Sen. Grant Mitchell. Sen. Mitchell told The Hill Times that the committee would look at several of Mr. Ferguson’s recommendations in more detail. One of those deals with how to publicly disclose Senators’ expenses, including the Parliamentary purpose of the expense, the date, breakdown and whether a third party paid for any part of it. British Columbia Liberal Sen. Larry Campbell, a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Security, said his committee—which includes Ontario Conservative Sen. Vern White and Quebec Conservative Sen. Jean-Guy Dagenais—would look at ways to keep the Parliamentary precinct safe but also accessible to Canadians. “We’re going to study everything to do with security and make sure we have the safest, most open capital in the world,” said Sen. Campbell. Meanwhile, some Liberal and Conservative Senators are working on plans to hold meetings in the fall after the federal election to find ways to make substantial changes to how the Senate works. “There will be a group of Conservative and Liberal Senators who will meet regularly when the Senate resumes to discuss ways of forcing changes in the rules of the Senate in a substantial way. The reason for the union of several Senators on both sides to plot a course of change is that it appears to most of us that unless change is forced on the Senate from inside, that the change will never take place,” said Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Sen. George Baker in an interview with The Hill Times. He declined to share any specifics. Over the years, several Senators from both parties have talked about the need to make changes to the Senate rules, including reforming Question Period, revising the composition of Senate standing committees, electing the Speaker and televising Senate proceedings. Sen. Baker, who has been on the Hill since 1974—first as an MP and now as a Senator since 2002—said that Question Period reform and reducing partisanship in the Upper Chamber would be some of the issues Senators are hoping to address in their meetings. “For example, the Question Period part of proceedings in the Senate must be expunged from the proceedings. The Question Period encourages political conflict within the Senate, which should be foreign to its operations. Those Senators who want to play politics should resign and run for office,” said Sen. Baker. “The period known as Question Period should be changed to Committee Period with questions and answers regarding the operations of committees of the Senate. The questions could relate to committee proceedings or reports of the committees. The majority of Senators in the Senate deplore the constant political bickering between a minority of Senators in the daily proceedings of the Senate and ways must be found to make the practice contrary to the rules.” Quebec Liberal Sen. Paul Massicotte also sent out a letter recently to Liberal and Conservative Senators encouraging them to take part in initiatives to reform the Senate internally. He was unavailable for an interview last week. email@example.com The Hill Times Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly attributed comments to Senator Larry Smith. The comments were made by British Columbia Senator Larry Campbell.