Stephen Harper’s Senate Woes

It is amazing how things change in Stephen Harper’s Ottawa isn’t it?

Take the curious cases of Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin for example.  Mike and Pam were appointed to the Senate by Stephen Harper.  This was quite a coup for him… two trained Media celebs to carry the good word of Stephen Harper and to fill his purse with coins of silver.

The fact that attendees to the various Harper functions would bypass a chance to meet Stephen for an opportunity to hobnob with celebrities like Mike or Pam didn’t bother Stephen in the least.  They were professional speakers who could carry the message and as I said, people were willing to part with their hard earned money to see real Celebs.

So what happened?  I’m not entirely sure, but what looked to be an attempt to embarrass the Liberals in the Senate turned nasty on the Harper picks instead.  When the Harper dominated Senate turned its guns on Liberal Senator Mac Harb, trying to show that he was milking or bilking the system to line his pockets, someone noticed that a certain Senator “from” PEI had been living in the Ottawa area for decades.

He was doing the same thing!

And when the nets were cast a bit wider, Pam Wallin hit the radar as well for her travel expenses and the fact that she appears to live in Toronto rather than Saskatchewan like everyone was saying.

Now many want to blame the “Liberal Media” for all of this, but the story broke first in the National Post.  Everyone else showed up after that because they smelled blood in the water.

Then we had Stephen Harper defending Pam Wallin, saying that he had reviewed her expenses and that they were similar to other Parliamentarians from Saskatchewan and defending Mike Duffy after he repaid his excess expenses.  He said Mike was honourable and showed leadership in the Senate by repaying the money.  I think we all remember this, don’t we?

When Deloitte finished their reports on Harb, Duffy, and Brazeau, the Senate Internal Economy Committee (Internal) tabled their reports on the matter and washed their hands of it. 

The reports from Internal said that Harb and Brazeau has been cheating, claiming expenses that they were not entitled to, but the report on Duffy had been white washed to say that Good Old Duff had just been confused by the Senate Rules and besides, he had repaid the money.

And the bucket of paint and brushes appear to have come from the PMO as well as a cheque for $90,000.00 for cover Duffy’s debt.

Senators objected to the obvious kid glove treatment of Duffy compared to the stern admonishments for the enemy Liberal Harb and the Senate embarrassment Brazeau.  The matter was handed over to the RCMP to investigate and let the Senate say we can’t do anything until after the RCMP is done.

The issue lay there for a while until the Fund Raising Reports started to come in.  The Harper Party was being hurt, they weren’t getting the money they were used to.  The Party Base was angry and there was one obvious reason why… actually three.

The Harper Party needed to distance themselves from these three Senators.  Brazeau was already out of the Caucus and out of the Senate as well.  Having been charged with crimes, the Senate was able to put Brazeau on a “Leave of Absence” which the Rules of the Senate allowed for.  Duffy and Wallin both needed to be shoved aside.  Both received orders to quit the Harper Party Caucus.

Duffy maintains that he was bullied into leaving the Caucus by threats of expulsion from the Senate, former Harper Party Government Leader in the Senate Marjory Le Breton refutes this by saying the same thing.  Go figure.

Wallin on the other hand says she was trying to negotiate the wording of her statement that she was willing to recuse herself from the Caucus until the matter of her expenses was cleared up except Senator Le Breton beat her to the punch, pre-emptively announcing that Wallin too had resigned from the Caucus.

Things sat quietly simmering until the recent announcement of Senator Claude Carignan, Leader of the Government in the Senate that he was making a motion to have Senators Duffy, Wallin, and Brazeau suspended from the Senate without pay.

And now Stephen Harper is applauding this move by the man that he appointed to the Senate, who that he named as the Senate Government Leader, but says that he and his office had no influence on this.  Whatever.

Embattled Senators Duffy and Wallin have now gone from Harper Party show ponies to being the sacrificial lambs at the Harper Party altar.  It really must hurt to move from being knights and bishops on the board to being mere pawns in the game…

Surprisingly, a fair number of people from across the political spectrum have risen in defence of Senators Duffy, Wallin, and by association, Brazeau.  The latest move of the Harper Party to suspend people who are merely accused of something rankles people in Canada.

The Harper echo boxes are trying to argue this, but Canadians believe in the law and that the rule of law needs to be used fairly.  What Senator Carignan proposes is not fair, and may not even be allowed under the Rules of the Senate.

Those rules outline the use of Leave of Absence (LoA) and Suspensions in the Senate and the Suspension Rules do not apply to any of the three accused as I read it.  If a Senator is charged with a crime, the Senate may place that Senator on a LoA, and if that Senator is convicted and subject to jail time the Senate may place that Senator on Suspension.

The section of the Rules that deals with LoAs and Suspension also state:

 For greater certainty, the Senate affirms the right of a Senator charged with a criminal offence to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal. No intent to comment on or pass judgment with respect to a Senator shall be imputed to the Senate because of the operation of this rule.”

Emphasis mine, BC

 

Stephen, the issue isn’t about the money.  The money is only a part of it.  The issue is of fairness and rule of law.  I suspect these ideas are foreign to you.  Your statements only refer to expenses and return of money, you disregard the other rules.

Senator Segal gets it, Senator Plett gets it too.  There are reports that some of the MPs in your Caucus get it as well and that they have been contacting their counterparts in the Senate urging them to vote against Senator Carignan’s motion.

I’d suggest the Party Base gets it too.

Mike Duffy says that you told him that the problem was that the Party Base didn’t like the appearance of what he had done.  I’m inclined to believe him.  You did not chastise him for the expenses, you only told him to pay them back.

I’m not a fan of Senators Duffy, Wallin, and Brazeau.  I don’t think that they deserve to sit in the Senate, but I also believe they do not deserve the treatment that you and your people are putting them through.

One last question Stephen, if you can ask Senator Carignan for me… Why is Senator Stewart Olsen not sitting beside the others in the Independent’s Corner.  She did the same thing they did, but she’s allowed to sit in judgement?

Could it be that the Party Base is angry with you, Stephen?

Just wondering, BC

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