Senate Reform. First, Get Rid of the Crooks

The Canadian
public is aghast at the behaviour of Senator Mike Duffy and the Prime Minister.
They have a right to be.

Government wants you to believe that the issue speaks to the need for Senate
Reform. That’s nonsense.  Right now, the
Senate is a potential crime scene.  The issue is
alleged illegality; abuse of public office, possibly fraud and other violations.  It is also about political ‘spin’. 

The public’s
derision should be directed squarely at the perpetrators who feel entitled
enough to play fast and loose with the public purse.  This problem did not arise because Senators placed
figures in the wrong column, misplaced dinner receipts or,
as one person put it, they can’t recall “where their dog lives”.   

In the real
world, when individuals ‘fiddle’ with someone else’s money, the Mounties are asked to examine what went wrong and to deal with the

That this
was not done, from the very beginning, is what especially offends the

So, I
repeat, the issue is not about an unpopular or ‘seemingly’ useless Senate.  It is about public officials ignoring their sworn
‘duty’, believing themselves ‘entitled’, and possessing the right to bestow
‘entitlements’ upon their Senatorial brethren, entitlements not available to
other public servants or members of the public.

Then, too,
public anger is about the payment of a large sum of money by a no less an
official than the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, to assist, ostensibly, the
‘spin’ doctors in making the Mike Duffy Chapter go away.   Where ever that story goes, when the Internal Economy Committee of the Senate feels it has to run a draft of its Report, on misbehaviour by a Senator, by the PMO for sanitization, the problem is greater than one of ‘light’ fingers.

Even more, when the PMO feels any obligation to protect a Senator who is under an enormous cloud of suspicicion, you need to ask, what kind of people are minding the shop? 

Now that the
RCMP has finally been called in, perhaps they will not only audit Senator
Duffy, et al, they will enquire as to which officials helped conceal any illegal
acts from public view. They should also attempt to determine whether the imprudent
Mr. Wright was performing something more than his role, as a ‘fixer’.

The RCMP has
a lot of work to do; hopefully, they require no reminding that politicians and other public servants,
right up to the level of the PM, enjoy no immunity from the law.

reference to ‘fixer’ brings up the more ‘political’ matter of ‘spin’. The Duffy
Affair represents a perfect case as to why politicians need to keep ‘spin
doctors’ in their proper place.

‘Spin’ is
accepted as part of the game of politics, but even within that nefarious bag of
tricks, there must be limits.

The absolute
line of segregation, if you need to ask, is illegality.

However one
may dislike the public policy priorities or even the ideology of Steven
Harper’s Government, no one, not even Tory partisans, will countenance the invocation of spin to shield a public official, from the law. 

The hint of
scandal, in the Duffy Affair, combined with a vague and unapologetic PM, in
front of his Caucus, and surrounded by Reporters, silent en route to Peru, was
the kindling that really got the public’s dander up. That his approach was to
hide, is a manifestation of a man losing touch with basic concepts of honesty,
transparency and integrity in Government and a public not ready, just yet, to
abandon such principles.

possibly, he began to redeem himself, ever so slightly on Tuesday; NDP Leader Thomas
Mulcair now having found the right focus. Possibly, the PM possibly also rediscovered
something very important: for
every Government, the road to decline is short and possibly irreversible when
the link to essential virtues, like honesty and integrity, held by ordinary
decent citizens, have been broken. 

PM Steven Harper, like so many other political leaders, has signed on to the notion that ‘spin’, if possible, reinforced by a bevy
of attack ads, is a cure-all for every deceit.

That is a dreadful
error of judgement.

It is no different right here,
at home, with the Dunderdale Administration. It would be wrong
to place Dunderdale in the same league as the PM, but I suspect
that these two, and First Ministers right across this country, are caught in a
never ending web of spin.

What have they done?

Most have robbed
themselves of the skills that brought them into politics, especially the
essential and immeasurable talent to communicate with real people. They have forked
over, not just their considerable intuition but possibly their integrity, too.

They have licensed
a bunch of young jackasses, with a communications or journalism degree,
to set the moral and ethical standards against which their Administrations should
operate.  They have given them the keys to
ruin their own electability.

This may
seem ‘old fashioned’ but, I am confident, the very best lines are those ‘spun’ with
the ‘truth’.

The Prime Minister
should call in any Senator, whose misappropriation of public money is proven,
and tell him/her to get lost and inform the public that he has done so.

The PM needs
to take charge; the public don’t really care for the smoke and mirrors. And,
they don’t like crooks occupying public offices.

Senate reform?  That may be the easy part. First, get rid of
the crooks.
Des Sullivan
Des Sullivan
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Uncle Gnarley is hosted by Des Sullivan, of St. John's. He is a businessman engaged over three decades in real estate management and development companies and in retail. He is currently a Director of Dorset Investments Limited and Donovan Holdings Limited. During his early career he served as Executive Assistant to Premier's Frank D. Moores (1975-1979) and Brian Peckford (1979-1985). He also served as a Part-Time Board Member on the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB). Uncle Gnarley appears on the masthead representing serious and unambiguous positions on NL politics and public policy. Uncle Gnarley is a fiscal conservative possessing distinctly liberal values and a non-partisan persusasion. Those values and opinions underlie this writer's views on NL's politics, economy and society. Uncle Gnarley publishes Monday mornings and more often when events warrant.


If a Big Mac costs McDonalds $10 to produce and it is sold for $1.50, McDonalds will go out of business. They would not declare a profit!


Bill left public life shortly after the signing of the Atlantic Accord and became a member of the Court of Appeal until his retirement in 2003. During his time on the court he was involved in a number of successful appeals which overturned wrongful convictions, for which he was recognized by Innocence Canada. Bill had a special place in his heart for the underdog.

Churchill Falls Explainer (Coles Notes version)

If CFLCo is required to maximize its profit, then CFLCo should sell its electricity to the highest bidder(s) on the most advantageous terms available.


    • Comments are right-on the mark! Example, charging the Senate for a Florida vacation is not a simple accounting error, its fraud pure and simple.

      Now if only the RCMP had the balls to charge this crook with fraud.

  1. Actually the senate is useless and should be abolished.
    There are not elected people and the expense accounts of some of them is ridiculous.
    There will always be hogs at the trough as long as no one is monitoring these expenses and bringing people on the carpet to explain long before it runs in to the hundreds of thousands.
    Time to shut down the senate gravy train, enough is enough.
    Squandering of taxpayers money has to stop at all levels of government , people get up and go to work every day and are punished with huge tax burdens not only what they pay annually but the money being wasted at the other end and mismanagement causing increases in taxes , and at the end of the day with only 6 years in they walk away with pensions that most people can only dream about and work 30 35 years and get nothing near as lucrative as politicians walk off with after a handful of years. Also the double dippers like Rae who already got a million dollar payout and is in for another pension, and folks wonder why their taxes are always increasing and debt is being run up.