The reporting on the Mike Duffy expenses scandal is getting a little melodramatic. Just to give an example: recent headlines from the National Post tell us that "A tectonic shift in Ottawa [is] underfoot" (Michael Den Tandt), "How a $90K cheque became a death warrant for Harper's brand" (Rex Murphy), "Harper government has lost its moral standing" (Den Tandt again), "The next act in the tragedy" (Andrew Coyne), the Harper Conservatives "seem to have lost their way" and "forgotten their values" (John Ivison).
Not to defend Senator Duffy's behaviour or Nigel Wright's bone-headed move to bail him out, but can we get a little perspective here please? Granted, no amount of money is insignificant when fraud at government expense is concerned, but we're talking about $90 000 dollars. Duffy should resign or be fired - period. However, the scorn heaped on the Prime Minister and his former chief of staff Nigel Wright seems a little excessive. Wright cut Duffy a cheque from his own personal funds to cover the $90 K in question, and he resigned (as he should have), but weeks later CTV's Daniele Hamamdjian was still stalking him at four in the morning as he went for a run in the streets of Ottawa. Thomas Mulcair and the NDP on the opposition benches are rising up in outrage in Question Period like this is the Pacific Scandal all over again.
Compare this to the treatment of former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. In a blatant attempt to influence the outcome of the last election, he cancelled the contracts for the building of two gas-fired electric generating stations already under construction, costing the public purse somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion (we may never know the exact amount), and then prorogued the legislature to avoid opposition scrutiny and resigned as Premier leaving his successor to clean up the mess. Now THAT's a scandal.
And yet what happened to McGuinty and his Liberal Party? [Crickets chirping] McGuinty was called to testify at an inquiry, solemnly intoned that "it's never too late to do the right thing" and then went home to finish writing his memoirs. Was Daniele Hamamdjian waiting outside his house at 4:00 am? Was there a "tectonic shift" in Toronto? The NDP could have brought down the minority Liberal Government at a recent budget vote so that the voters could pronounce judgement, but Andrea Horwath said she'd rather "listen to Ontarians" and then voted to support the government in return for a goody bag of pet projects funded by even more public money.
I'm not excusing the federal Tories for their handling of the Mike Duffy affair, but lets save the extreme outrage and pronouncements on the Death of Democracy for behaviour that really deserves it. Dalton McGuinty got off scot free after wasting sums of public money that are orders of magnitude larger than the amount that cost Nigel Wright his job, in a desperate ploy to swing the vote in an election, and yet the Liberals are still in power in Ontario. Where's the real scandal?