This federally mandated partial work stoppage season, I think it’s important to take time out of your busy schedule and reflect on what really matters: the photogenic snowflakes, caroling, reindeer and sleighs. And while you’re sitting around your dinner table, awkwardly fumbling around for topics of conversation with family members you just don’t like, to mix things up between helpings of Rob Ford, you might want to update your knowledge of the Senate expenses scandal.
In all seriousness though, this Senate scandal thing is actually pretty shady, and, this is just my opinion, but it has telltale signs of a conspiracy by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to end the Senate.
Now, the word conspiracy has become somewhat of a loaded term in the last few years, so I just want to clarify what I’m talking about. The kind of conspiracy I’m talking about is not that the CIA planned 9-11, wants to put everyone in hobbit homes or take away ‘our guns’. That said, conspiracies do exist in the real world. They occur in governments, businesses and between everyday people, and I’m not saying I necessarily know for certain that this latest Senate thing is a conspiracy. But at the same time, here’s why I wouldn’t be surprised.
In 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper went on record, saying he wanted to reform the Senate and make it elected, or end it all together:
“Mr. Speaker, I very clearly said that this party’s preference is to see a reformed and elected Senate, but the Senate must change; if the Senate cannot be elected, then it should be abolished. Those are the choices.”
Now that was six, getting on seven years ago now, so some time has passed, but never underestimate Harper. Harper’s political enemies and friends have both made that mistake. A great illustration of Harper’s conniving abilities are found in allegations made by Sen. Mike Duffy, if there is any merit to what he has to say. But at this moment in time, the RCMP is investigating his claims, so it would seem that there is some truth to it.
Sen. Duffy has alleged that he was set up by the Prime Minister’s Office. Duffy claims that the Prime Minister’s Office had promised to reimburse him for the $90,000, (the outstanding amount which caused the whole Senate expenses scandal in the first place) even before it became a story. And when the story broke, the Prime Minister’s Office asked him not to stir the pot and told him not to worry because they would pay for his legal expenses. The strange part of Sen. Duffy’s story is the last of his allegations appear to be true: Sen. Duffy saved some pay stubs or something and it seems that yes, the Prime Minister’s Office was indeed paying his legal fees.
And it seems the other two senators that have been suspended this far in the scandal have similar stories.
Sen. Pamela Wallin has said that she was ordered to resign by one of the Prime Minister’s staffers and Sen. Patrick Brazeau claims he was offered a backroom deal. Keep in mind what each of these senators is accused of; gross spending misconduct and that they may just be nasty, careless politicians trying to save their own skins and careers, but I don’t think that’s where it ends, totally.
It’s already clear the corruption that has made this scandal such a story extends into the PMO. Nigel Wright has so far been offered up as the bad seed from the Prime Minister’s Office, being depicted as responsible for the lax atmosphere for expense reporting in the Senate, but again, I don’t think many people buy this story. For something that had the potential to explode like this story has, it is uncharacteristic for Stephen Harper, with his history of tight control, to not have known about it.
Basically what I’m saying is, I think Stephen Harper did know about it. I think he specifically singled out these senators because they don’t have many friends and with all the political baggage they’re carrying, he’s planning on using them as an example for why the Senate should be disbanded.
But this is an interesting point because, really, who cares? Technically, Stephen Harper is correct on this issue: if the Senate can’t be reformed to make it elected, it’s essentially a giant waste of taxpayer dollars. You can argue and say Harper should go through the correct legal channels if he wants to end the Senate, but Parliament Hill is so mired in corruption that it’s really impossible for anyone to even talk about approaching the Senate. Trying any kind of reform would be political suicide, so Harper has avoided the trap by not talking about it and not asking anyone’s permission. It’s interesting because if you look at it this way, it really comes down to whether you agree with how Stephen Harper has gone about his agenda.
I’ll leave that up to the individual reader to decide. I know this is supposed to be an opinion piece, but I don’t feel that passionately about this. What this is is a test of Stephen Harper’s government and, really, Stephen Harper himself, and his leadership style. It may be too early, but I believe this story could make or break Harper’s government and could easily be the most remembered moment of his government: the time Stephen Harper broke, or was broken by the Senate.
So in the final analysis, I really don’t understand why conspiracy theorists go to such great lengths to make stuff up about the real world when this exists. You could make this stuff up, but why would you bother? This is real, and I think it’s more fun that way.
Have a good holiday, stay safe, and don’t believe everything you read in the news.