Well what a few days it’s been! A bit much to digest all at once – I’m still getting over QuÃ©bec getting knocked out of first place in terms of public displays of corruption and general ineptness. That clearly belongs to Ontario now, though I’m confident will soon regain our status…
Call it Canadian Journalism’s Revenge.
After seven years of scandal simmering just out of reach, of dead-ends and non-answers, of finely-tuned PR and marketing shlock from government ad men, the dam’s finally burst.
A lot of people have been working very hard under increasingly difficult circumstances to hold this government accountable for its actions. Yet despite proroguing Parliament, the G20 fiasco, and numerous other contemptible acts perpetrated by the Tories, they’ve so far managed to expertly manipulate public opinion in their favour, allowing them to dodge most scrutiny relatively unscathed. As is their custom, the Tories throw various people under the bus without ever actually taking corrective action.
Adding insult to injury, the Harperites have treated both our media (and political process in general) with increasingly obvious and obscene disdain.
They’ve mocked and derided dissent, criticism and honest investigative journalism as politically-motivated extremism. Did you know the CBC was filled with Trotskyites? Neither did I until Pierre PoiliÃ¨vre so-alleged when confronted with a CBC News investigation revealing the Tories are planning on spending $250 million to develop ‘plans’ for a new arctic icebreaker. Scandal here is that the immense sum won’t cover the cost of actually building anything, leading anyone with an ounce of common sense to wonder just what in the hell that money’s going to be used for.
There was once a time when mismanagement and misspending of this magnitude would be enough for a government to lose the confidence of the House and force an election. But we’ve grown accustomed to government inefficiency, excess and above all else, a total lack of operational transparency. It’s despicable. Quite frankly I’m incensed we, the Canadian people, have been asleep at the wheel for so long and let them carry on like this.
It’s one thing for a government to be unaccountable. It’s quite another thing when government is unaccountable and contemptuous of anyone who dares question their actions.
I feel a lot of Canadians have been waiting for the pent up weight of corruption and incompetence to come crashing down. It’s happened to many of the lesser prime ministers and their respective governments, and this had made me hope with utmost sincerity that the crash’s impact will be in proportion to the actual, accrued incompetence. I expect it to be big. I have no faith in the Harper administration, I think this a blot on our otherwise decent record, and I’m thoroughly unimpressed with his economic record. Selling the country by the pound does nothing to improve the economy, and the only people who haven’t been ‘too aversely affected’ by the Great Recession are the nation’s elites. In effect, Canada’s conservative movement isn’t that different than the cabal of elites that is the modern American Republican Party; a party by the rich, of the rich and for the rich, a party that governs simply by manipulating PR and chanting soundbites until anyone attempting legitimate discourse simply gives up.
So consider those currently crashing back to Earth.
Senators Wallin and Duffy, once party media darlings, they’ve both decided to take the expressway to public image rehabilitation by resigning from the party but not Senate itself.
Pamela Wallin is under investigation for over $300,000 worth of questionable travel expenses, while Mike Duffy charged the federal government $90,000 in housing expenses for his ‘secondary residence’, a house he lives in most of the year in an Ottawa suburb. Oh, he also claimed per diem expenses from the government while on vacation, and then added expensed the Senate for campaign work he did for the Tories during the last election. But as Andrew Coyne points out, Duffy’s hardly to blame – the Tories have cultivated a culture of excess and scandalously improper spending.
Then there’s Nigel Wright, a wealthy businessman and Harper’s former chief of staff. He resigned today for his involvement in the Duffy scandal – apparently he wrote him a $90,000 cheque to cover up his ‘mistake’. Government lapdog Pierre PoiliÃ¨vre tried to pass him off as a wealthy benefactor who didn’t want this debt transferred onto the tax-payer,
On top of all this, CTV is now reporting damning evidence of financial impropriety on the part of Mike Duffy was removed from the disgraced Senator’s internal audit.
And if that weren’t all enough by itself, it looks like some drug dealers tried to sell a video of Rob Ford smoking crack to several trusted journalists, resulting in the story coming out anyways, and a crowd-sourcing initiative to get ahold of the video. The Toronto Star, whose investigative journalists broke the story, is now calling for Ford’s resignation.
Toronto is better than Ford, and her citizens deserve much, much better.
Ford of course is another one of those self-appointed apostles of the Harper agenda, a conservative bulldog already well-known for his troglodytic values, bully tactics and vile general comportment. His downfall won’t impact the scandal plagued federal Tories, but it does leave the Harperites without their primary roadside attraction in the 905 region.
In any event, as I said earlier, it was nice to have the pressure ease off of QuÃ©bec for a little while.
Here we are, two years before the next federal election and the once mighty Tories are in full crisis mode.
The question now is whether the Canadian public demands blood. Resignations simply won’t cut it, thorough investigations must happen and the Senators must lose their jobs and benefits. The prime minister must be held accountable.
In sum, I’d like to thank every Canadian journalist out there right now who has been pushing for transparency and accountability and who’ll in all likelihood take the events of the last few days as a sign to keep the pressure on.
Things need to change – what we have is untenable.