Saturday, April 11, 2015

Rotten At Its Core


Whether or not Mike Duffy is convicted of any of the thirty-one offences for which he has been charged, his trial will go down in Canadian history as the event which pulled back the veil on Ottawa's political culture at the beginning of the 21st Century. It is a culture which illustrates the ravages of rampant individualism. Andrew Coyne writes:

His driver’s licence may be from Ontario, his health card may be from Ontario, he may pay his taxes in Ontario, the house in Prince Edward Island he supposedly lives in may not even be winterized, but if he says he’s from P.E.I., he’s from P.E.I., and is entitled to claim a monthly allowance for expenses incurred “travelling” to and from the house in suburban Ottawa he has inhabited for many years. Because the rules don’t explicitly say that he can’t, and nobody else in the Senate’s apparently deserted corridors told him he couldn’t.

Because there are no rules, party business masquerades as public business:

But it is clear the senator spent relatively little time doing the people’s business, compared to the vast amounts of time he put in doing the party’s business, making speeches, attending fundraisers and the like, in cities and towns across the country, much of it on the public dime.

And the man who rode into town claiming that he would change the culture for the better, has simply taken it to a new level. He now insists that the rules are whatever he says they are. Duffy did his business:

with the express approval of his political bosses. When Stephen Harper signed his photo with a hearty shout-out to “one of my best, hardest-working appointments,” he wasn’t referring to the exacting scrutiny Sen. Duffy was giving his legislation in the chamber of sober second thought. One can imagine, then, the senator’s distaste for the kind of hypocrisy that would single him out for punishment.

Whether or not doing partisan work at public expense was against the Senate’s non-existent rules would seem to be a secondary question. If it isn’t, it should be; so far as the rules do allow it, it shows the problem is much worse than one errant senator. The habit of parties helping themselves to the public’s money is deeply ingrained, and one that none of them seems to feel the slightest shame over.

And, while Senators are feeding at the public trough, the government is waging its election campaign using public money for advertising:

It is instructive that even as we are discussing the improper use of taxpayer dollars for political purposes in the Senate, a similar controversy is unfolding, in another place: specifically, over the government’s use of public funds to pay for government advertising — a $7.5 million post-budget buy, 10 times as much in fiscal 2014, a half-billion over the last five years. Ostensibly, as government ministers maintain, straight-faced, this is to help Canadians take full advantage of the programs available.

Our politics is, quite simply, rotten at its core.


Anonymous said...

Rotten wicked and evil yet they claim to be the wait for it --->>>

Drum roll please------->>>>>>>

"The Loud and Proud Cristian Right" yet they can lie and cheat like no other...

Ally themselves with known criminals cheat at voting time censure debate in the house of commons have drunken teens @ 24 Sussex Drive and refuse interviews unless they are scripted for their personal purposes.

The wrath will soon catch them. You cannot be that belligerent and bellicose for long.

Owen Gray said...

It's strange how the most hypocritical among us can also be the loudest, Anon.

Lorne said...

The Tory contempt for Canadians (the Harper base excepted, of course) seems to have no limits, Owen.

Owen Gray said...

When you believe you get to make the rules, Lorne, why bother to pay attention to anyone?

The Mound of Sound said...

In fairness, Liberal governments have used the Senate as a parking lot for bagmen, fixers and partisan operatives for, well forever. Harper promised a higher standard but didn't deliver and, when some of his appointments began receiving unflattering attention Harper had to choose between standing by them or throwing them to the wolves in a desperate attempt to make good his own escape.

Harper has a huge 'damage control' problem. It's clumsy and unconvincing. We saw it at work with Cadman and with Carson. And it's played out, almost by rote, in Duffy/Wallin.

At first Harper vouchsafed Duffy and Walling both on their residency and on their expenses. Then he quietly turned on them. Finally he denounced them as reprobates who had betrayed his trust and he demanded that Tory senators purge them from their ranks.

When it came to Nigel Wright, at first Harper posited Wright as a noble guy who wanted to make good what Canadian taxpayers had lost. Then the line became that Wright had done the honourable thing, threw himself on his sword, when he resigned from the PMO. Finally Wright was a reprobate who had betrayed the prime minister's trust for which Harper had fired him "on the spot" as soon as he learned of the "bribe."

There's no rational connection to this progression of stories. Each is contradictory, inconsistent and irreconcilable with the others. I think Harper developed a good measure of Hubris when he got away with this for so long. His Nemesis was to repeat this tactic in something that was obviously going to wind up in court.

Scotian said...

So much for that "clean cut conservative government" these same partisans told us would make life so much better a decade ago. Then there was Coyne a decade ago who first swallowed for three weeks Harper's Grewal claims and railed against the Martin government only to slink off over the summer into thin air and never once apologize for what he had done, any more than Harper did, and not ever once hold Harper to account for the fiction that he among others jumped on so readily to hammer the Libs with at the time. That incident cost Coyne dearly with me on the credibility side, first for not waiting for the whole recordings before presuming their authenticity on the word of Harper/Grewal alone, then once it became obvious that not only did the recordings not say what he had been led to believe but in truth said via editing the exact OPPOSITE, that it was the CPC side trying to get those appointments and the Libs flatly saying no way in hell, he simply went away and then never apologized for his egregious mistake.

It is that latter part that is what really hurt him with me. It is one thing to get carried away because you are already predisposed to believe something for whatever reason, that's bad for someone supposedly a serious political observer and commentator, but it happens. To not apologize after feasting as hard as he did on it though for several weeks once it becomes absolutely clear it was a fraud all along, AND to not hold those who created the fraud to any public scrutiny at all once the fraud is revealed, well that is another matter entirely. If the process really is your true concern then you are obligated to have done that, and he didn't.

So every time I read Coyne's latest laments about how horrible and bad the Harper government is and what it does is for politics in general, I cannot help but remember all this and think how much all of this might have been avoided if Coyne had done the right thing then and made Harper wear the fallout from the Grewal recordings fraud. After all Harper vouched for them in authenticity and completeness, and we know the edits HAD to be from CPC hands since those recordings went from CPC MP Grewal to the CPC LOO to the press, they never left CPC control once from creation to public release, which means the editor(s) HAD to be CPC, and given how sloppy and obvious the edits were that on the first day questions were raised, how did the CPC LOO for 3 WEEKS not notice if they were there the entire time? THOSE are questions Coyne should have been asking afterwards, but of course, silence.

This really upset me then and still does today because I had thought Coyne to be one of the few who got that process matters even more than partisanship, that incident showed to me that when push came to show for Coyne it really was the other way around, AND that he was unwilling to admit to his own being played for a fool and then go after those who played him because of his own partisanship (because I have to think if the Libs had done the same the reactions would have been very different from first trusting and then revealing the fraud to going after the fraudster(s)). It is all well and good for his conversion at this late date to the reality of Harper the Destroyer and Salter of the Scorched Earth, and I'll agree better late than never, but his overall credibility with me will never be what it once was thanks to that pivotal time and place where he could have changed so much.

Owen Gray said...

It would be interesting if Coyne wrote about his past support for Harper, Scotian. But I doubt there will be any such re-evaluation.

Still, unlike the usual chorus in the media, at least Coyne is singing a different tune.

Owen Gray said...

John A. himself practiced patronage shamelessly, Mound. But Harper takes patronage to a new level and insists that his senators become attack dogs.

And when a dog poops on his lawn, he puts it down.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

You're right Owen, this government "is rotten at its core" and your observation is very apt, because the core is what is at the root of all other behaviour.For us who follow politics closely, we can see how that rot, beginning with the PMO, has spread throughout the whole government.This is what will make them so dangerous if they get 4 more years, because, if they can still stay in power, even though their corruption is made public then they have nothing to lose and their pursuit of power will have no bounds.

Anonymous said...

This is our own fault, for putting up with that evil, disgusting monster Harper. It is far too late to save Canada from Harper. He has sold Canada out to Communist China. Our resources and resource jobs, have been given to China. Harper's FIPA deal with China is for, a minimum of 31 years.

Harper shut down our Arctic Research Station and got rid of our Scientists. Now Harper is bringing Communist China to our Arctic and they are going to build their own Research Station.

Harper is a traitor doing acts of treason for, selling us out to China. I have no idea why, Harper isn't in prison for doing so?

I e-mail the opposition and ask, why are our resource jo9bs being given to foreigners? Why are they not saying anything regarding, Harper's FIPA deal with China?

To me, the opposition has been going along with Harper. I have never been e-mailed back, by any of the opposition.

Owen Gray said...

Harper didn't take Parliament's declaration of contempt seriously, Pam. For him, it merely signaled that he didn't have enough votes.

And he continues to believe that, if he has enough votes, he can do whatever he wants to do.

Owen Gray said...

I understand you're frustation, Anon. But I continue to believe it's not to late -- unless we've reached the point where citizens simply don't care about what their government does in their name.

John B. said...

The Canadian public is on trial. The opposition parties have already had their trials and they lost. I’ll excuse Mrs. May and her party because they haven’t as yet been provided with sufficient means to succeed. The others have no reasonable excuses. From now up until and including E-Day it’s our turn in the prisoner’s box. Should we fail neither will we have an excuse and we will be truly deserving of the outcome.

Lulymay said...

I have to agree in priciple with Scotian, Owen. But, I still have some hope that a CPC supporter, who is obviously intelligent and can certainly read the tea leaves, and has finally come out of his CPC coma to denounce the corruption et al that is symptomatic of all things Harper may entice others to do so as well. But what of the current crop of CPC MPs who continue to sit on their hands and with blinders firmly in place and hands on the cookie jar, continue to follow like lap dogs into what I hope will be the abyss? It defies logic unless they are literally foaming over their forth coming pension which will be significantly more than the majority of us who worked 35-40 years to earn.

Anonymous said...

If our politics is rotten at the core, what is the main pestilent causing the rot? Perhaps corporate controlled media?

The senate is a mess, and the corporate media has been angling to remove it for a long time (ironically, the NDP is ideologically blinkered and plays into the trap).

According to the MSM, our Senate choices are reform, or abolish: they loudly push for abolishment. Why? Because reform would stall their preferred system of well heeled lobbyists directing Government policy.

Think about it - do you really want to give a government with a mere plurality (elected by 24% of the electorate) absolute control over the country for five years?Don't you think that a second chamber, elected on a different time-scale and non-partisan approach might be a good idea?

Yes, the Senate has been a shady pay-back scheme, but not until the advent of Stephen Harper did it utterly cease to even pretend to fulfil it's function.

An intelligent "leader" would propose logical, achievable reforms. Sure there are Constitutional issues, but contrary to what the corporate-controlled MSM keep telling us, these are minor.

The real functions of a proper second house are critical to a successful democracy. Let's not get side-tracked by the third-world ambitions of Stephen Harper (our very own first-world problem)

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Anon. Constitutionally, the Senate is supposed to be the house of sober second thought -- a check against unbounded political ambition.

If Harper has turned it into a fundraising operation for his own party, the problem is with Harper more than it is with the institution.

Owen Gray said...

For the last thirty-five years, we have been living with an ideology which has equated self interest with public interest, Lulymay.

Unless and until that ideology dies, we'll continue to get more of the same.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, John. This problem can be solved by us collectively. If we fail to get rid of the obviously corrupt, then we will deserve what befalls us.