Mike Duffy is a complete fuckhead. What else is there to say about this Senator, appointed to the Senate by Stephen Harper …oops, I almost said Brian (as in Lyin’ Brian) Mulroney, Canada’s Prime Minister from 1984 to 1993. Mulroney had his share of scandals and in that way is not too different from Harper, whose most recent problems revolve around three of his senatorial appointments: Patrick Brazeau, Pamela Wallin and the aforementioned fuckhead, Mike Duffy. All three of these jerks are presently being investigated by the RCMP for some kind of fraud. In the cases of Duffy and Brazeau, the police are looking into claims for living expenses which are dubious – Duffy’s alleged crimes partly involve his assertion that his primary residence is in Cavendish, PEI, so as to be able to claim living expenses for work he did in Ottawa. (Some residents of Cavendish have said that Duffy was rarely seen there.)
That is not the end of it however. Conjointly, Duffy stands accused of claiming expenses for the time he spent on the road campaigning for Conservative candidates during the most recent election campaign in May of 2011. This is another fraudulent claim since campaigning for Conservatives (or for candidates of any party, for that matter) is not part of Senate business. Also of import is the fact that the head of the P.M.O. (the Prime Minister’s Office), Nigel Wright has admitted writing Duffy a personal cheque of over $90,000 so that the Senator could repay the Canadian government for his falsely claimed expenses. Further, after repaying his debt with someone else’s money – which led directly to Wright’s resignation from his haughty position as Head of the P.M.O. – Duffy outrightly refused to meet with independent auditors or provide his credit card statements, financial records, and information about his calendar relevant to the investigation. (Wikipedia). Duffy has recently resigned from the Conservative caucus but continues to occupy a seat in the Senate as an independent.
Brazeau, was expelled from the Conservative caucus after being charged with both domestic and sexual assault. Further, like Duffy, he has made dubious housing and travel allowance claims based on his contention that his primary residence is on a reserve when the fact of the matter is that he has never been seen there. (Wikipedia). Wallin is being investigated for charging us Canadian taxpayers a total of $300,000 in travel expenses, over a two-year period, between her home in Saskatchewan and her dwelling in Ottawa, including hotel and other expenses for stop-overs in Toronto while en route to Saskatchewan from Ottawa. Like Duffy and Brazeau, Wallin continues to collect her full pay as an independent Senator. Wallin has repaid over $200,000 to the government of Canada.
It has just come to light that Duffy is also being investigated for allegedly paying a friend some $65,000 over a two-year period with no tangible evidence that this guy ever did any work for Duffy which was what these monies were supposedly allocated for in the first place.
Further, we should be questioning the judgement of Prime Minister Harper, the man who appointed these people to the Senate in the first place. Do we want a man like that to be making decisions for us both nationally and on the world’s stage? I would say that we do not. Hopefully Harper, unlike Mulroney who cut and ran by resigning right near the end of his term, (leaving Kim Campbell to fight an election the Conservatives were destined to lose in a landslide, being reduced in the process from a 151-seat majority in the House of Commons to a measly two seats), will remain to feel the wrath of Canadian voters in the next election.
What about the future of the Senate? The predicaments of Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau have precipitated increased calls for Senate reform from abolishing it completely to altering the way Senators are chosen, i.e. converting the Upper House from an appointed to an elected body. There have also been suggestions that the three reprobates be forced to resign from the Senate rather than continuing to occupy seats in the red chamber on the taxpayers’ dime.
Let’s deal with the last suggestion first. One of the principles of our judicial system is that a person accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty so the idea that Wallin, Brazeau and Duffy should be forced to resign prior to having their day in court just doesn’t fly. However, there is a law now on the books, which compels a convicted Senator or M.P. to resign his or her seat. Perhaps enacting legislation to force Parliamentarians who have been convicted in court of at least one criminal offense, to reimburse the federal government for any remuneration they receive while sitting in Parliament awaiting trial – in addition to having to resign their seats that is. This type of legislation would likely enjoin Senators and/or Members of Parliament to think twice about retaining their seats between the time they are charged with a criminal offense and the time they are convicted, if that’s the way things turn out.
Neither do I agree with the proposals that Senate should be either elected or abolished. As presently constituted, the Canadian Senate and the British House of Lords – the latter having been in existence for over four hundred years – do provide “sober second thought” for legislation coming to them for investigation from the Commons. This is because members of these two appointed Upper Houses are usually selected, in theory at least, from amongst ex-politicians and business people, experienced in the ways of the world. Obviously there will be mistakes made but abolishing the Senate completely would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Suggestions that the Senate be elected would have a similar effect as well as providing no guarantee that elected members would be any more honest than some political appointees have turned out to be.