View from the Cheap Seats is kind of an extension of the newsroom. Whenever our three regular reporters, Calvin Daniels, Thom Barker and Kelly Friesen are in the building together, it is frequently a site of heated debate. This week: Should Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy be suspended from the Senate without pay and privileges.
A deeper rot
I think the question of whether Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy should be kicked out of the Senate is a bit of a distraction from a deeper rot that has taken root (or perhaps always existed) in the Upper Chamber.
Let us not forget that the Senate is modelled on the British House of Lords, a historical body of privilege and entitlement. It was created, ostensibly, to represent regional, provincial and minority interests in Parliament, but all too often, at least in public perception, it appears to represent partisan party interests and self-interest.
I’m not saying the provinces don’t get good value out of the system or that they do, I simply don’t know. What I do know is that the federal political parties definitely get good value from it.
In the case of Duffy and Wallin, as high-profile former broadcast journalists, they were instrumental in raising funds and campaigning for the Conservatives.
Patronage, of course, is nothing new. Prime ministers, both Conservative and Liberal, have always used senate seats to reward supporters and been criticized for it. Stephen Harper deserves all the more ire, though, because of his outlandish hypocrisy on the subject.
The criticism that he is now throwing his appointees under the bus by trying to get them fired is unfair, however. Would we rather see him protect them? It is perfectly legitimate, as Harper has pointed out, for an employer to terminate an employee for wrongdoing and it does not require a criminal investigation if internal rules were broken.
In this case, the employer is us, the Canadian people, and as our elected representatives it is incumbent upon the members of the House of Commons to take action on our behalf. That the Senate could turn around and defy the will of the people is another question that needs to be addressed.
Whether Harper himself is guilty of wrongdoing also warrants further investigation.
Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin’s decision to abuse their powers as government employees is distasteful. But the fact that they wouldn’t take responsibility for their actions afterwards is downright pathetic.
The pair of politicians reminds me of my former high school friend. You see, my friend was a compulsive liar. And when you called him out on his lies, he would get mad. Duffy and Wallin are acting like my former friend. They were caught doing something wrong, but they don’t want to look at the camera and admit they made a mistake. It is a sign of immaturity and shows their true character. Ultimately, it is the Duffys and Wallins of the world who have dragged the reputations of politicians in general to that of used car salesmen.
Of course Duffy and Wallin went after Stephen Harper. He was the man that called them out on their inappropriate expense write-offs. And Harper isn’t giving them a mulligan; he’s making them pay it back. They should just be lucky they aren’t facing jail time for stealing the taxpayers’ money.
I don’t care what political party you follow blindly, I’m not sure why anyone would be in Duffy or Wallin’s corner besides maybe their kids. Neither politician respects working class Canadians. If they did, they wouldn’t have wasted over $200,000 of their tax dollars. That’s not an oopsey daisy mistake; that’s a we think we’re above the law mistake.
The current upheaval in the Canadian Senate is a topic I might possiblybe able to write a book about, and I am sure in the coming years several will be.
But for this space I’ll keep my comments short.
The current furor over questionable money handling by Senators, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Duffy in particular is disturbing for most Canadians but even more so for a journalist.
Duffy and Wallin were once trusted members of the media fraternity, a fraternity which has also held the ideal of honesty high.
It is our job as the Fifth Estate to ferret out corruption and wrong doing particularly within government and to tell the world so that action can be taken.
For Wallin and Duffy to now be under the shadow of suspicion is made worse through my eyes because it is an affront to what our shared media career should hold dearest.
And that they are fighting a suspension a few short years ago they would have called for had they found others under such suspicion makes the affair even more unpalatable.
I do appreciate the accused Senators are becoming the scapegoats for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who in my books remains under a spectre of suspicion since I can’t imagine the PM’s Office being oblivious to the suspected wrong doing. That said the Senators need to step down to protect what little credibility of the institution remains.
Then add the longstanding issue of the Senate being a non-elected body which has long been the trough from which political patronage was sluiced the party faithful, made worse by the current scandal, and the upper house is a body in dire need of complete overhaul, if not elimination.
The Senate has outlived its usefulness and under the current scandal should become something left to this country’s past, not its future.
View from the Cheap Seats is kind of an extension of the newsroom. Whenever our three regular reporters, Calvin Daniels, Thom Barker and Kelly Friesen are in the building together, it is frequently a site of heated debate. Next Week: Remembrance Day.