Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ethics, the Senate, and Stephen Harper

I read an article from the National Post by Andrew Coyne.  Yes I visited the National Post Site and that in itself could be news.  The article was about whether the Harper Party’s “culture of expediency” was behind the current crop of scandals in Ottawa.

If you want my comments to Andrew you’ll have to scroll way down the comments list, look for the black cat.

I found myself agreeing with Andrew’s premise that many of the Harper Party Scandals have their roots going into the practice of forcing through legislation that looks good to the party’s supporters but that are not well thought out, political expediency as it were, but I took issue with his idea that

People don’t make ethical choices in isolation. They take their cues from those around and above them.

I believe ethics is what you do when you think no one is watching.

Andrew is of the opinion that even if you are an honest person when you walk into the Senate or the House of Commons that you will soon lose that honesty when you see all the other people grabbing with both hands and not getting caught.  I think he’s wrong.

Look, I know a woman who drove 30 minutes out of her way to go back to a store because they made a mistake and didn’t charge her for an item.  She was free and clear, she wouldn’t have been caught.  So why did she do it?

She felt it was wrong to keep something she didn’t pay for.  She didn’t do anything wrong, the store made an error, but she just didn’t feel right in not paying for it.

She did the right thing because it was the right thing to do.

It’s the same thing as picking up a lost wallet and handing it over to the store or the police unopened because it’s not yours.

Acting ethically can be a choice, but for most of us it seems to be ingrained into us.  We were taught to be honest, to act appropriately, and to be good citizens.  We may choose to be with people of like mind when we are  with our friends, but unfortunately we do not get to choose who were work with.

Stephen Harper is not in a position like most of us.  He has the ability to choose who he has in his inner circle and those who he appoints to various positions including the Senate.  He can check into these people to ensure they are of high moral standing, to ensure they are ethical, but he apparently does not.

We have a number of Senators in Ottawa who don’t appear to live in the regions they represent.  This is a condition for sitting in the Senate stipulated in the Constitution.  If these people took the high moral road, if they acted ethically they would have at least questioned if they were entitled to sit in the Senate.  Instead they just sidled up to the trough and proceeded to gobble all that they could get.

If Stephen Harper were to call me today and say “You want a Senate seat?” I’d say “Thanks, but I can’t.”  I know that I don’t meet the requirements.  Believe me, if I got the call and I could figure out how to make myself eligible I would.  Wouldn’t you? $130,000.00 to start plus the perks would be awfully hard to turn down.


One way to judge a person is by looking at the company they choose to keep.  Stephen’s had a disbarred lawyer in his inner circle that later got into trouble for lobbying the Government improperly.  A Cabinet Minister who had a child with a baby sitter while he was still married.  Another Cabinet Minister who sold out his own party to have a seat in Harper’s Cabinet.  And of course the befuddled Senator who doesn’t know where he lives.

This does not reek of ethics folks, it reeks of something else.

Stephen Harper has “daylight ethics”.  Or maybe we can call it “political ethics”.  He tries to look like he’s doing the right thing when the harsh lights of public opinion are on him and his people, but when he thinks no one is looking, well that is an entirely different matter.  He thought that no one would notice if he clawed back danger pay from our Forces in Afghanistan.  He tried to reduce the danger pay for others.  These things were in the works until we noticed, until we turned on the lights and said that it was wrong… Then they went away quietly, “mistakes” they said.

Just today Stephen Harper was asked about Pamela Wallin’s travel expenses.  He said that if there are improper expenses that they should be repaid and that when they were repaid that Ms. Wallin would be welcomed back into caucus.

That’s not ethics.

Just paying back ill gotten gains is not sufficient.  Theft and fraud are not the pastimes of ethical or honourable people.  If Senators are bilking the system then they shouldn’t be in the Senate.  If MPs are bilking the system they should not be in the House.  At the very least they should be fired.  If it is warranted, they should be jailed.

When Stephen Harper isn’t wrapping himself in the flag or flogging his love of watching hockey, he claims to be a Christian.  Well he strikes me as one of those “Sunday Christians.”  You know the ones, Monday through Saturday they’ll lie and cheat and steal, or they’ll be all liquored up and chasing skirts while their family sits at home, but on Sunday, they dress up nice and listen to the preacher for a bit and they’re good to go for another week.


You see Andrew, the problem isn’t that these people are losing their ethics when they walk into the Senate or the House.  The problem is that they didn’t have any before they got there.  Of all 105 Senators and 308 MPs, we only hear a few bad eggs.  Maybe the rest are just smart enough to not get caught, I’d like to believe that the few do not necessarily represent the majority.

I believe that Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin are ethically challenged, should I believe that all journalists are like them?  Should I believe that You are like them?

Cheers, BC

Good Lord the Duffy Situation just keeps getting worse.  Now it appears he was demanding a Ministerial position so that he could have a car and driver and even more travel allowance?  I’m sure glad I didn’t appoint this buffoon.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Stephen Harper is Very Upset? I’m Angry.

Stephen Harper said he was very upset, but he didn’t look it did he.  He sat in front of his caucus with his smarmy half smile while the media shouted questions at him. 

He didn’t answer them.

They were shown the door.

You’ll be pleased to know that I am upset too, Stephen.  I’m not upset with the Senate or certain Senators, or even with Nigel Wright per se, I’m upset with you Stephen Harper.

There are a lot of people like me in Canada, some of them are busily scraping blue bumper stickers off of their cars this week.  I don’t have a blue bumper sticker, or an orange one, or even a red or green one, but I do have a Canadian Flag on the antenna of my car.

That flag is in tatters, much like my country.  About one third of the flag is missing, the remaining two thirds represents to me, the two thirds of Canadians who did not vote for the Harper Party in the last General Election.

You know, Stephen, when you were in Opposition, you stood in the House of Commons, the House owned by the People of Canada, and you ranted about omnibus bills.  You said that the ruling Liberals would soon be able to table one bill per session because of their abuse of omnibus bills.  After your Party was elected, you subjected us to the largest omnibus bills in Canadian History.

When you were in Opposition, you railed against the use of Time Allocation to limit debate in the House of Commons and yet you and your Party have used this same tool to limit debate more often than any other Government in the History of Canada.

Stephen, when you were campaigning you said a lot of things.  You promised honesty and accountability.  You promised that you would not appoint a Senator who was not elected.  You promised a lot of things and the only ones that you have delivered ended up twisted into parodies of themselves.

You created an Ethics Commissioner who makes rulings behind closed doors and puts those rulings into sealed envelopes.  A Parliamentary Budget Officer who actually tried to do his job and was stonewalled and blocked by the very Party that appointed him.

I could go on and on but I won’t.

You have shown yourself to be as bad if not worse than any Political Leader that you have held up to ridicule.  You have offered up empty promises and promptly walked away from them when you were elected.

That just makes you a politician, and as I said earlier, the same kind you ridiculed in the past.

And now you have your scandal, the Senate Scandal.

Do you remember the Sponsorship Scandal?  Do you remember chastising Jean Chretien for not knowing what his Chief of Staff in the PMO was doing?

Why won’t you apply the same standards to yourself? 

The trouble may have started in the Senate, Stephen, but the Scandal is in the PMO, and higher.

This all started with Mike Duffy.  An unelected Senator appointed by you, Stephen Harper.  Not satisfied with $135,000.00 tax free he helped himself to a housing allowance on top of that.  When this was investigated Mike Duffy felt guilty I guess, and ran to the PMO office to get bailed out. 

This is when your man, Nigel Wright in the presence of two lawyers made a deal to pay Mike’s debt.  Your man, Your Chief of Staff in Your PMO.

You said that Jean Chretien should have known what his right hand was doing, what about Stephen Harper?

The Duffy Situation is its own little sideshow, the Scandal belongs to you, Stephen. 

When this story broke you said that Nigel had done an honourable thing and that he had your full support.  You and the Harper Party applauded Mike Duffy for his leadership in repaying the $90,000.00.

And now you are upset.

Well we’re angry.

You applauded Mike Duffy who appears to have committed fraud for his leadership in paying back his ill gotten gains.  You applauded Nigel Wright for doing an honourable thing that may very well have been illegal.  You may very well been part of the sanitization of the Report on Mike Duffy’s expenses, but I can’t show that.

You couldn’t even be bothered to answer one question about this Scandal in the PMO until you were some 5,700 kilometers away from Ottawa visiting Peru.

For a man who questions the leadership abilities of others, your actions speak volumes.  Or should I say your lack of actions.

What happened to “Bend the rules, you will be punished; break the law, you will be charged; abuse the public trust, you will go to prison”?

Mike Duffy walked out of the caucus, you didn’t fire him.

Nigel Wright handed in his resignation, you didn’t fire him.

You haven’t punished anyone, you haven’t asked the RCMP to investigate anyone, all you did was run away to South America without taking one question.

Some leader.

Maybe you should take your own long walk in the snow, or better yet on a short pier.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Stephen Harper Says He’s Very Upset, But He Doesn’t Act Like It


That’s about the size of it.

Stephen Harper says he’s very upset.  Stephen Harper certainly doesn’t act like it.

I’ve just read the transcript of what Stephen Harper shared with his caucus and the media.  To say that I’m disappointed would be an understatement.

He’s laughing at you and he’s laughing at me.  He says that he’s beefed up transparency and accountability and yet we have $3.1 Billion in anti terrorism money that went God only knows where, and we have over $2 Billion in departmental spending that no one will say what the money was actually spent on.

And then there’s the Duffy Situation.

Harper apparently claims he didn’t find out about the $90,172.00 gift that Nigel Wright gave to Mike Duffy until the media broke the story.  By the way, he didn’t say that, John Baird did during Question Period.

Now I don’t know about you, but if I give someone a gift it usually isn’t half of what they or I would earn in a year.  If I give someone a substantial gift, they are likely to be a blood relative or a friend who is so close to me that I would consider them family.

I doubt Nigel and Mike are that close.  I doubt that they are on the same bowling team or even the same league.

So Nigel and Mike sat down with Mike’s lawyer and Stephen Harper’s former special council and legal advisor Benjamin Perrin and set up this gift.

And yet the Harper Party says there are no documents involved in this gift.

Huh?? At least two lawyers are there to negotiate a gift and none of them wrote anything down?  They sound like the lawyers on “The Simpsons” and not like a former legal eagle of the PMO and I’m sure that Duffy’s lawyer is no slouch either.

Stephen Harper and his crew are asking us to believe that Harper, a notorious micromanager who issues talking points to keep MPs from saying anything but what he wants heard allowed his Right Hand Man in the PMO to go off on his own and pay off Duffy’s debt without being told about it?  How about that his former PMO legal counsel sat in on the meeting and didn’t pick up his phone and say “Hey Steve, are you up to speed on this?”

If it was me, Nigel wouldn’t have gotten the chance to resign.  He called the credibility and integrity of the PM and the PMO into question by acting like a free agent.  Either Nigel was acting on Harper’s orders or on the direction of someone behind the throne.

I certainly wouldn’t have let Mike Duffy quietly slip out of caucus to sit in the independents’ corner.  I’d have called him and told him the same two words I shared with Nigel and sent out a press statement advising that Mr. Duffy was removed from caucus and that the matter would be forwarded to the RCMP.

But you can’t do that when you’ve spent the last how long telling everyone how honourable good old Duff is.  How wonderful it is that he repaid his improperly collected housing allowance.

And you can’t do that when you’ve been telling everyone that Pamela Wallin’s travel expenses are the same as other people who supposedly live in Saskatchewan, even though she suddenly repaid part of those travel expenses when they were going to be audited.

Remember what Stephen told us so many years ago?  If you bend the rules you will be punished?  If you break the rules you will be charged?  If you abuse the public trust you will go to prison?

Empty words.

Stephen Harper is not unhappy that the rules were bent, that the rules were broken, that the public trust was abused.  He’s unhappy that his people, the people he hired into the Senate and the PMO got caught.

In the mean time Harper has hopped into a jet bound for Peru and left his minions to fend off the accusations in the House.

Is that Leadership?  Hardly, it’s more like a spoiled brat who makes rules for the other kids but not for his gang and then hides when the Spam hits the fan.

What say you?

Cheers, BC

And before anyone calls me on it… No I really don’t think there is an awful lot of credibility or integrity in the PMO right now.  And Spam is a registered trademark of Hormel Foods Corporation.