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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Saturday, June 01, 2013

A little perspective, please

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?


onefineguy said...

In all fairness, Kathleen Wynne did say "Sorry"

Anonymous said...

You're right, of course. It's the customary double standard at play but it's all part of a concerted effort on the part of most journalists to discredit the Harper government.

Those people simply have never gotten over the idea that Harper won a majority. They created the myth of the control-freak Harper who directs every single breath and move of his underlings, so of course now they can claim that it was the PM himself who directed Nigel Wright to cut the cheque.

At times it's even laughable to see how they rise to the defense of their pet politicians. For example, during yesterday's Power & Politics Rosemary Barton quickly shut down a comparison between Duffy possibly getting paid for making a speech and Justin Trudeau actually making thousands of dollars for his speeches while the House was in session.

During the same broadcast, Barton again thought it irrelevant that Liberal MPs Judy Sgro and Wayne Easter had made inappropriate living expense claims like Duffy apparently did. Barton dismissed that one with "they're elected" so that their electors had the final say. I wonder how many electors knew about those inappropriate claims, though, given the lack of coverage those MPs' claims received.
-- Gabby in QC

Archie said...

I'm not happy how this was handled, I like Duffy,but the party and the country comes 1st, no matter how much he's done for the party. Best to clean house and cut ties and Duffy to be a man and come clean.

Anonymous said...

The CTV news poll from the other day found that only half of Conservative voters actually believe that SH was unaware of the cheque prior to this breaking. He has a reputation as a micromanager, and when his personal lawyer and his chief of staff are in on the fund transfer, and with the recent emails about Duffy's 'expanded' role in the party that needed to be kept on the down-low, it strains credibility that there isn't something larger here.

There is the usual hyperbole, but we can't, in our partisanship, ignore what rank-and-file voters think and perceive-- or we end up divorcing ourselves from reality and flying blind, which is almost always the beginning of the end.

Anonymous said...

What a stupid article. McGuinty was lambasted, and essentially resigned. We're talking about fraud here. Want to pile more on top of that? Partisan ads to "Promote" EAP using tens of millions of taxpayer money; In-and-out scandal inbreach of Elections Act; stonewalling investigation into electoral fraud. It's not just $90K. Oh - and the hypocrisy of campaigning on Sponsorship Scandal, only to be even less accountable. Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain why nobody is asking Justin Trudeau about this drug related accusation? Video is actually included.

"Pierre Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, for better or worse, depending on how you feel, smoked hashish, and his son has smoked with me four or five times, so it really pisses me off when I see Justin Trudeau, who took big gaggers with me, is in parliament, actually voting for Bill C-15."

Eric said...

Anonymous 3:12:
McGuinty was lambasted? Sure, if you say so. Like the lambasting he took from the Toronto Star editorial board on the day he resigned, headlined: "Dalton McGuinty resigns: Premier leaves a solid legacy
Despite his evident shortcomings, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty was on the right side of the big issues for Ontario throughout his nine years in office."

Ouch. I bet that hurt his feelings.

Anonymous said...

The media are "freaking out" in the hope that other "progressives" will 'freak out" too. What I find the most amusing is the selectiveness in the media outrage, as if the Senate was only for the pure of heart and any questionable spending habits is a relatively new phenomenon exclusive to the Conservative Government of course. Mac Harb has been under investigation for over a year but there is no media hysteria nor "outrage". The Board of Internal Economy has flagged 15 Senators for dubious expense claims, 5 were Conservatives and 10 were Liberals, but the way the media has shaped the narrative you'd be hard pressed to know there were Liberals involved at all. The media in this country are as dishonest as it comes, corrupt to the core. They behave as the never ending attack ad against the Government, while they turn one blind eye after another when it comes to the Liberals. No one is condoning mis spending in the Senate, but it should be noted that none of this would have become public if it wasn't for the Conservative Government bringing in new rules of accountability for the Senate. For the media to put out the specious narrative that questionable spending from Senators is something new is laughable, if it wasn't so damn dis-honest and selective.

bertie said...

Just how much taxpayer money was used to pay what Duffy supposedly owed.?????NONE and from all reports I read he really only owed a thousand.Yet the millions and perhaps into billions the Liberals stole and have no intention of repaying goes by in the press like some HO HUM joke.My first task if I was PM would be to cut off all funding to the CBC and start sending in the RCMP to investigate these so called rags like the Toronto Star.I would have a full scale investigation into most of our Canadian MSM and start jailing the reporters who continually lie , twist facts and make up phony scandals.

Anonymous said...

old white guy says, berti, in Canada there are two groups that are allowed to lie with impunity, the media and politicians. what we make of that I do not know.