Yes Mike, we are watching ...with disgust
Senators, Canadians are watching ...
With those four words Mike Duffy ended what was one of the most dramatic speeches in recent history of the Upper Chamber. The embattled Island Senator wrapped himself in the robe of victim and threw firebombs at any and all perceived to have slighted him.
The speech made impressive theatre while being repugnant to the vast majority of Canadians who are sick of Duffy’s self-serving take on history.
By the time you read this Duffy may find himself suspended from the Senate, a move virtually unprecedented, but entirely appropriate given the known facts of the expense scandal that has turned the Ottawa resident from Tory Pitbull into Tory Piranha.
Duffy’s speech did not influence many Canadians or Senators of the rightness of his argument. He refused entirely to deal with the substantive allegations against him. There was no explanation for receiving Senate per diems while on a cruise ship, or actively campaigning for Tory candidates, who were paying his expenses, during the last federal election.
Duffy’s actions warrant suspension. His argument that due process is not being followed is frankly nothing but Senatorial BS. Every business – private sector, non-profit, and government – has the right to suspend employees it believes are acting improperly. There is significant evidence on the public record that raises serious questions about Duffy’s expense claims. The RCMP is investigating, but that does not preclude the Senate from taking action, like any business would. His basic argument is ‘Look, I haven’t been convicted of a crime yet, so it’s unfair to punish me until then.’
It’s a ridiculous argument.
At no point has Mike Duffy either apologized to Canadians or reached into his own pocket to pay back one cent. Instead he relied on the $90,000 largesse of the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff.
Here is where Duffy’s speech did have a significant impact. There are now two key issues. The first is whether Mike Duffy should be suspended from the Senate. The second is more important: What did the prime minister know about the $90,000 payment, and did he participate in any attempt to cover the payment up?
Stephen Harper has ducked any responsibility by claiming Nigel Wright acted alone. Duffy’s speech managed to paint the PM into a corner that sees Harper spinning a new version of events almost daily.
When the issue first erupted Harper claimed Wright acted alone and resigned after the revelation became public.
Last week Harper admitted a ‘few’ people inside his office were aware of the $90,000 payment. Now there are claims that 13 PMO staffers, or Conservative operatives, were aware and Harper expects Canadians to believe that despite this ever-growing number of Conservatives who conspired to silence, none brought the boss in on the discussion. Canadians have every right to look at the utterances of the prime minister with more than a healthy dose of scepticism.
Our prime minister has shifted his story almost as often as Mike Duffy has ignored the facts.
Monday Harper changed his story yet again by attempting to beef up his tough on scandal bona fides by claiming, for the first time, that he fired Nigel Wright.
Mike Duffy’s lack of contrition is an embarrassment. The prime minister’s repeated attempt to dodge the truth is a scandal.
Senators, Canadians are watching ... Mike Duffy was right. And we are outraged to the point that fallout from the Senate expense scandal may be just enough to tip the scale in favour of turfing the whole Red Chamber to the dustbin of history.
Paul MacNeill is Publisher of Island Press Limited. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org