- After Nigel Wright and then Ben Perrin’s testimony at the Mike Duffy trial, I am pretty confident that Stephen Harper was lying about not knowing about the payment. The plausible deniability seems less plausible every day. Or as Andrew Coyne sarcastically suggests, maybe Stephen Harper is a victim in all of this.
- Far more Liberal lawn signs visible in Saskatoon since 1993 when Jean Chretien swept to power. In many ways the shift to the Liberals has to be really good for the Conservatives as I think this comes from historic NDP vote. That being said, I still think Saskatoon West goes to the NDP.
- The interesting race may be Saskatoon Grasswoods and Saskatoon University. Kevin Waugh has been really quiet so far while everyone is asking where Brad Trost is. Trost doesn’t even have a website (although he has a web domain that goes nowhere). It’s early but the Conservatives could go 0-3 in the city.
- I also found it weird that Jason Kenney was in town last night for a fundraiser for Donauer and Block only and not for the east side candidates.
- I watched Antarctic Edge: Beyond the Ice last night which is on the rapid global warming that is happening in Antarctica right now. Winter sea ice has declined by three months and temperatures have increased by 11 degrees Fahrenheit, six times greater than the global average. Yet the NDP and the Liberals seem nervous about talking about it. Maybe it is an acknowledgement that Canada is indeed what most of the world is calling us, a petro-state (or to throw it back to the 80s; PetroCanada). Our entire country has become tied to oil and gas revenue. To tackle climate change in a serious way, it would cause a serious disruption to the Canadian economy and throw hundreds of thousands out of work. In a day and age where the “middle class” is king politically, no one wants to take a stand that would hurt them, even if it hurts the globe.
- Interesting interview on The Current with John Ibbitson. It’s worth the 20 minutes to listen to it. You may even want to listen to it again.
- In some way I feel sorry for the political staffers who have to create election material and use stock photos. They have no budget and are under time constraints and it never turns out well. Never ever turns out well.
- This won’t come up in the election but I tend to give Stephen Harper a pass for messed up military procurement, especially when the Americans who do it better than we do, also have their struggles.
- Whoever wins, is going to have a tougher go with the Canadian economy. Oil prices are to stay depressed for another two years.
- The NDP minimum wage hike makes claims that it can’t back up. Hey, a NDP populist economic policy that makes no sense, what a surprise.
- Of course neither leader has the courage to wade into Saskatchewan’s most pressing issue, what’s wrong with the Roughriders?
Some of you have asked me if I was going to write about Donald Trump in The StarPhoenix. The answer is no and I’ll get to the reason in a minute.
People are outraged that Donald Trump can get away with what he is saying unchallenged and that people still like him. They want to know why this is happening. My answer is that it has always been happening, we just expect more from a Presidential candidate.
Look closer to home. Of course there was Rob Ford but in Saskatoon we had Jim Pankiw who gained a lot of support when he ran for Mayor and had late in the race, a realistic chance of winning and beating Donald Atchison.
After being elected in 1997, Pankiw wrote a letter in 2000 to the president of the University of Saskatchewan, Peter MacKinnon, condemning the university’s affirmative action policies and comparing its supporters to those of the Ku Klux Klan. After attacking the most respected institution in Saskatchewan and it’s President, he was re-elected by largely rural voters in the next election.
Jim Pankiw was kicked out of Reform Party caucus by Stockwell Day in 2011 and then when Stephen Harper won the leadership of the Canadian Alliance, was the only member of the caucus revolt that Harper didn’t allow back in as he was alleged to have assaulted a local aboriginal lawyer.
His federal political career dashed, he decided to run for Mayor of Saskatoon, despite not living in Saskatoon and was going to sit as a MP and be mayor. That too was against the rules. The rules for being Mayor of Saskatoon are clear. You have to live in Saskatoon. He did not and there was the epic cover of the The StarPhoenix that showed him getting his paper outside of the city limits one morning. The electoral officer said he didn’t meet the qualifications to be mayor and of course it is against the law to be a MP and part of another elected body at the same time. Pankiw thought it would be a swell idea.
His main issue was a stance against aboriginal rights and that attracted a lot of supporters. In the end he finished in third place,behind the incumbent Jim Maddin.
In 2010, he decided to run again. Here is how CBC covered it.
Pankiw is known for his controversial comments about aboriginal people, some which have resulted in human rights complaints.
He didn’t back away from those comments Thursday, saying he would be campaigning against "race-based" government spending policies. He also called Saskatchewan First Nations chiefs "racists."
"I don’t think Indians should have special race-based privileges," Pankiw said. "I think we should all be equal. Do Italians have special race-based privileges? Chinese people? Ukrainians? Germans? Not that I know of, but Indians do."
After all of that and almost no campaign, he finished with over 7,000 votes.
So explain that too me. For years people summed it up as some people in Saskatoon are stupid but we saw it again in Toronto with Rob Ford getting elected and even after all of the scandals, Doug Ford doing reasonably well in the election. So what gives?
One word. Resentment.
Jim Pankiw, Rob Ford, Donald Trump and to a degree Sarah Palin and other Tea Party candidates represent those that are resentful and frustrated where they are in life and their desire to blame someone. They supporters are almost all white, lower middle class, and struggling. They are thrilled that someone is speaking their language and frustrations at being left behind. More importantly they are giving them someone else to blame.
In Saskatoon, it is aboriginals. With Rob Ford, it was City Hall and bureaucrats, and with Donald Trump, it is “illegal immigrants” and now women.
Why does it work? It unlocks this deep down racism and biases in many voters, especially when times are tough. I heard it all through the Pankiw mayoral campaign about all of the advantages that aboriginals have. Free housing on the reserves, lots of money from the federal government, free education, free dental. It’s almost as if Caucasian males are the ones that are disadvantaged.
This is why it works when times are tough and things like unemployment is high or there is income disparity in a region or country. People see someone of a different race and immediately blame race for why they have that job they want. It ignores the fact that the person is probably better qualified than they are.
I used to think it was education based but I have even heard University of Regina social work graduates complain that all of the jobs in their field “are reserved for aboriginals”. Breaking it down, that isn’t true and often the situation is that we have too many graduates for the amount of jobs in Saskatoon and they are frustrated and angry but the racism comes out.
So instead of owning up reality, people act like treaty rights or hiring practices like affirmative action are are unfair advantages. For those that are never going to look past that what Pankiw or Trump is spewing, sounds great. It isn’t their fault that things are tough, it is aboriginals or illegal immigrants that are making it bad. By cracking down on them, then the problems of a bad economy, lack of training, or an unwillingness to adapt will go away.
Of course the fact in Pankiw’s case, none of the aboriginal issues were municipal jurisdiction and he couldn’t do anything about it if he was elected or in Trump’s case, cracking down on illegal immigrants and villanizing Mexican workers would hurt the U.S. economy is irrelevant. What matters to so many voters is that it isn’t their fault and someone else can be blamed.
It came out that Fox News backed down because they thought that the feud with Trump was hurting the network. Almost overwhelmingly people who wrote and tweeted were supportive of Trump’s remarks rather than Megyn Kelly. I am no Kelly fan but those were incredibly crude remarks to say or even think about a women and yet Trump doubled down on them.
Why doesn’t this hurt Trump? Well because the people that support him, believe that stuff.
Wendy reminded me of people we know that brag that he kept track of menstrual cycles of women employees because he thought they were unstable. Sexism and misogyny is alive and well in parts of this country as well. Look at the response to the Bill Cosby or Jian Ghomeshi allegations where the women were initially blamed, the FHITP clips online and live television, and just some of the vile comments that women experience on their weblogs. Last week I saw a guy with a FHITP hat on while in the mall. What kind of lack of self awareness does that?
There are many men out there who are afraid of strong women leadership. It may not show up on polling because someone doesn’t always want to come across as sexist on the phone but it does come out in the polling booths and it will hurt Hilary Clinton on election day.
So what do you do about it? I have been thinking of Atchison’s comments a couple months ago to the report of racism in Winnipeg. His answer to CBC was Atchison like but he mentioned the economy is dealing with racism. Atch wasn’t right but he wasn’t wrong either. When does racism or things like anti-Semitism get worse? Periods of recession and depression when people are losing their job or their place in life. As long as insecure people feel threatened, crazy politicians will try to exploit it with some success.
The other thing about this phenomenon is during those times, the media is ignored. The StarPhoenix kept reporting on Pankiw and even Fox News is critical of Trump but when someone has biases towards a race or for a candidate they think is speaking the truth, it doesn’t matter what the paper or a television network says. That is where guys like Pankiw or Trump find their appeal, the voice the thoughts that racist people with common sense know not to say and then Trump, Ford or Pankiw go and make it sound legitimate. That is why it is so disheartening to not hear the rest of the GOP stand of up to Trump. His campaign will hurt a lot of minorities for a lot of years because they are giving credibility to racists and misogynists everywhere.
I don’t think Donald Trump is that serious about running for President. He has a skeleton staff, isn’t running any TV ads, and isn’t even trying to get his name on the ballot in some areas. It seems like he is using the GOP bully pulpit to make a name for himself and make his own brand worth more more than trying to become President of the United States. In the last debate when he said that he wouldn’t rule out running as an independent which means that Hillary (or as I hope for, Larry Lessig) would become President.
This seems much more about the massive Trump ego than public service. As long as the fans keep showing up, he’ll keep running.
Nothing. Not a damned thing. A deliberate and enormous dose of nothing at all.
That is the only accurate description for what the Harper government has done in response to this summerâ€™s killing of Tina Fontaine and the resulting calls for an inquiry into this countryâ€™s more than 1,100 missing and murdered aboriginal women.
Nothing. Not hardly even lip service.
For roughly 10 days in August, the nation took a short break from not caring about these women, most of whom linger on the margins of society. The shattering horror of this 15- year-old girlâ€™s murder â€” the way she was snapped and squeezed into a garbage bag and then disposed of casually â€” stirred some brief attention. Aboriginal groups, the countryâ€™s premiers, opposition leaders and editorialists caused a short-lived ruckus. There were calls for a formal inquiry to examine the root causes of this unstopping tragedy, the adequacy of the police response, and what might be done to better respond to and halt the frequent loss of life. Even some prominent Conservatives added their voices to this cause, including Brad Wall, the premier of Saskatchewan.
Stephen Harper said no.
He insisted that Tinaâ€™s death, and all the other deaths and all the other assumed-but-weâ€™ll-probably-never-know-for-sure-what-happened-deaths are a matter strictly for the police. And that was pretty much all he had to say, silently suggesting that either he doesnâ€™t believe there are root causes to such violence and murder or, if they do exist, they are better left to someone else to care about and deal with.
Quickly, others came forward with a host of reinforcing arguments as to why an inquiry would be a dreadful waste of time â€” that it would divert funds that could otherwise be dedicated to helping aboriginal women or that it would tell us nothing we donâ€™t know already or that it would be an insult to the police or that it isnâ€™t justified because statistics show that aboriginal men are dying at equally alarming rates. Not every argument against an inquiry was dedicated to doing nothing. But in their own way each ended up lending momentum to that cause.
Eventually, someone came up with the less uncomfortable idea of a national roundtable. Less out of a sense of embarrassment than a desire to simply shove the issue aside, the government agreed. It promised to get to work.
Then the news happened, as it always will. Mike Duffy lumbered into our lives again. ISIL released beheading videos. We went to war. Two soldiers were killed on our own soil. Sexual harassment exploded as a topic of national discussion. With every passing day these important matters dominated an increasing share of mind and, by default, Tina moved further and further from our thoughts.
Itâ€™s now been 96 days since her tiny, busted body was fished from the Red River. In the competition to respond to that tragedy, nothing is winning. And itâ€™s winning by a mile.
This is why Mike Duffy was named to the Canadian senate
Iâ€™ve never met Nigel Wright, and all I know of him is what Iâ€™ve read. But after consuming the 80-page, minutely detailed RCMP document released Wednesday, I have to say I sympathize with the guy. He comes across in the document just as his defenders have described him: capable, dedicated, â€œa person of good faith, of competence, with high ethical standards,â€ as Jason Kenney put it. You get the impression of a man who found himself in a ratâ€™s nest, and tried to keep one of the rats from destroying himself. Instead, he got destroyed too.
Thatâ€™s not the sentiment youâ€™re supposed to have towards Stephen Harperâ€™s former chief of staff. Youâ€™re supposed to denounce him as the Machiavellian hand behind the dark and devious manipulations that helped bring a corrupt Senate to public disgrace. His great sin, personally paying off $90,000 in expense claims made by Mike Duffy, was a monumental mistake. But you can understand how he got there after months of maddening efforts to achieve what must have seemed a simple quest: getting Duffy to repay the $90,000 heâ€™d claimed in inappropriate housing and other expenses.
From the start, Wright doesnâ€™t think Duffy has broken any laws. The Senate rules on â€œprimaryâ€ residence are such that Duffy may be able to justify a claim that, legally, heâ€™s done nothing wrong. â€œIâ€¦believe that Mike was doing what people told him he should do, without thinking about it too much,â€ he relates in one message. But Wright is convinced itâ€™s a clear ethical breach and Duffy is morally bound to repay the money. Itâ€™s getting the senator to admit as much that causes the headaches.
In an interview with RCMP Cpl. Greg Horton, who headed the investigation and prepared the exhaustive outline, Wright reveals that since joining the Prime Ministerâ€™s Office he hasnâ€™t filed a single expense claim, paying all his flights, hotels, meals and other costs from his own pocket. It has already cost him tens of thousands of dollars, but, thanks to his corporate career, he can afford it, and, Horton writes, â€œit is his global view and contribution to public policy that taxpayers not bear the cost of his position if he can legitimately afford to fund it himself.â€ He gives the same reason for his fatal decision to write a cheque to cover Duffyâ€™s expenses, after concluding Duffy legitimately didnâ€™t have the money: â€œHe did not view it as something out of the norm for him to do, and was part of being a good person. He said it was a personal decision, and he did not want a lot of people to know about it.â€
Fascinating read. Â You have a sympathetic figure in Nigel Wright, the devious and self serving Mike Duffy and then the rather incompetent Senate. Â No wonder why Harper wants is abolished. Â They can’t even execute a scandal right.
Government backbenchers attacked MP Brent Rathgeber, who quit the caucus last week after saying the Conservatives have â€œmorphed into what we have once mocked.â€
Within 24 hours of Mr. Rathgeberâ€™s (Edmonton-St. Albert, Alta.) exit from the Conservative caucus, members of the governmentâ€™s backbenches began to take aim at the now Independent MP by disputing his comments and questioning his professionalism.
â€œHe canâ€™t get along with people in the sandbox,â€ said Tory MP Greg Rickford (Kenora, Ont.), Parliamentary Secretary for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. â€œBrent spoke for himself. Heâ€™s always been that way. As a provincial legislator he couldnâ€™t get along with people.â€
Mr. Rickford told The Hill Times that he â€œdidnâ€™t appreciateâ€ statements made by Mr. Rathgeber following the announcement of his resignation late last Wednesday evening.
Mr. Rathgeber announced his resignation from the Conservative caucus on June 5 on Twitter, hours after the Conservative-dominated House Access to Information, Privacy, and Ethics Committee amended his private memberâ€™s bill, Bill C-461, which would have required the annual salaries of public servants in excess of $188,000 to be made public. Conservative members of the committee raised the disclosure threshold to $444,000.
This amendment, dubbed by Mr. Rathgeber as â€œthe proverbial straw that broke the camelâ€™s back,â€ led the Alberta MP to announce his resignation from Conservative caucus late Wednesday night.
The morning after announcing his resignation from the Tory caucus, Mr. Rathgeber wrote on his blog that the â€œGovernmentâ€™s lack of support for my transparency bill is tantamount to a lack of support for transparency and open government generally.â€
On his blog, Mr. Rathgeber wrote that the $188,000 salary was a compromise itself, and noted that various provinces have â€œsunshine lawsâ€ that disclose the names and departments of individuals that make upwards of $100,000.
â€œEven setting the benchmark significantly higher than any of the provinces that maintain â€˜Sunshine Listsâ€™ was apparently not supportable by a Cabinet intent on not disclosing how much it pays its senior advisors,â€ wrote Mr. Rathgeber.
He also identified the controversy surrounding Prime Minister Stephen Harperâ€™s (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) former chief of staff Nigel Wright, and the $90,000 cheque Mr. Wright gave to Senator Mike Duffy to cover ineligible expense claims as a contributing factor to his decision to leave the Conservative caucus.
â€œWe have morphed into what we have once mocked,â€ he wrote.
Mr. Rathgeber ended the scathing blog post by writing, â€œI no longer recognize much of the party that I joined and whose principles (at least on paper), I still believe in. Accordingly, since I can no longer stand with them, I must now stand alone.â€
In a press conference following his arrival in Edmonton on June 6, Mr. Rathgeber blasted PMO staffers for controlling MPs as though they were â€œtrained seals,â€ although he said he supported Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.).
First of all Rathgeber is totally right. Â Backbench MPs are trained seals which means that many talented people will not choose to run for office because they don’t want to have every speech vetted by the PMO and have no input in on government decisions ever. Â
Then you get a cycle were because talented people aren’t interested in becoming MPs so you are left with many MPs from both parties who are minor league quality which of course requires more PMO oversight which then discourages competent people to run. Â Eventually you get to a situation where trained seals could do the job of many MPs as long as they can sign off on the ten percenters.
The reason why people got upset with Rathgeber is because it hit close to home. Â That and the PMO told them to be upset. Â Then it gave them a fish as a reward.
Of course there had to be some negative feedback for allowing Mark to review the 2013 Ford Explorer. Â It basically revolved around the idea that somehow a brand was going to ruin Mark’s life and I think take his virginity. Â Before we nominate me (again) for the worst father of the year award, let’s get the facts straight.
Ford, through a public relations firm, gives me cars to review with no strings attached. Â Well there are some strings. Â I am pretty sure I am not allowed to enter them into a demolition derby or street race though Saskatoon. Â I get them for a week or two and then pass them on to another reviewer. Â If there is a string attached, I am often asked to arrange the transfer with the other reviewer which lately has been Jeff Jackson. Â I sometimes pick up the car from Chris Enns. Â We occasionally have lunch or coffee while trying to figure out how to keep the vehicles longer (it never works) Â Once in a while there are tears like when I gave back the Ford Escape.
Of course Ford wants favourable reviews. Â All companies do. Â No one wants to hear that the product is a piece of crap. Â If Ford gave me a vehicle that was a piece of garbage, I would say that. Â I have no problem with that. Â I wasn’t overly fond of the Lincoln I tested and I said it. Â I loved the Ford Escape more than anything I have ever driven, I wrote that too.Â
When Mark came to me and said, “I want to review the Ford Explorer.” Â I pointed out that he can’t drive but he wanted to anyway. Â We talked about what a review was and the need for him to be really honest, even if Ford didn’t like it. Â We talked about integrity. Â We also talked about being a jerk because it played well on the internet and how he probably shouldn’t be that guy.
Like anything he posts online, he has to write it out because his handwriting stinks and he is in grade seven. Â Handwriting matters. Â He then typed up the review in Libre Office. Â That was harder than handwriting it because children aren’t taught typing until grade nine. Â When it started typing the review, it was a 2008 Ford Explorer he was reviewing, it was a 2013 when he finished up. Â Then I finally finally edited it. Â Like any young writer he struggles with sarcasm and often can sound mean, especially when talking about his little brother. Â It’s why I often say, “don’t tweet that”. Â With a perverse pleasure, I watched him struggle with a couple of paragraphs that “didn’t sound right”. Â Welcome to my world.
We then went outside (with his camera) and took some photos. Â Oliver at that point had to get into the shot and with Mark’s permission, I took some photos of Oliver in the Explorer with him. Â We then put the post together with Windows Live Writer and uploaded the post. Â It took Mark a long time but he had a really clear idea of how he wanted the post to look. Â I was glad he took the time even if I think some of it was stalling to stay up later than his bed time.
Mark’s blog automatically posted the review to Twitter. Â Mark had mentioned that he planned to review the Explorer the day before and some of Ford’s social media people asked him to tweet them the review. Â One of the best parts of reviewing the Ford’s are their social media team and they were great to Mark. Â While the response from Ford to the review was great, what was good about the experience was that Mark learned a lot about research, writing, and the importance of integrity in your writing (it also helped to have Mike Duffy as a comparison during this time). Â He also learned through Ford’s social media team that big companies can have a human voice.
I am not really that interested in protecting Mark from this work than I am helping him navigate it. Â Sometimes what I do freak people out (it bothers some of our neighbours that Mark is allowed to walk the two blocks to Safeway to visit Wendy by himself and others are unnerved that he was allowed to walk down to Riversdale or downtown to see me after school). Â Now some others are unnerved that he wrote something for a (gasp) brand. Â He figured out how to navigate the westside. Â He is now figuring out how to talk about products. Â I think he will be okay.
Don Martin takes on Mike DuffyÂ and just destroys him. Â There is nothing left be said.
He called him a partisan shrill, a fake friend, a fake journalist, a fake senator, and according to former Prime Ministers and aides, a fake Conservative.
I can’t imagine having my friends saying this about me. Â Then again, I have never done what Mike Duffy has.
It takes considerable effort to become a complete embarrassment.
Congratulations Senator Mike Duffy, you’ve finally done it.
With his wild rant on a CBC national politics show this week, the television icon has accomplished the difficult feat of offending all those in his parliamentary orbit — his former journalistic occupation, the Conservative party, senators, MPs and even the prime minister who appointed him.
A New Democrat MP’s revelation that the 27 senators given their seats by â€˜I’ll-never-appoint-senators’ Prime Minister Stephen Harper would eventually cost $177-million plus expenses is fair political game.
And, MP Peter Stoffer noted in passing, Senator Duffy racked up $44,000 in travel costs during just three months of unelected service in the Red Chamber.
Poor Mike Duffy. While he relishes his star profile on Conservative fundraising tours, he gets all twisted and bitter when it attracts enemy fire.
So instead of a rational discussion on the value of the new senators to reforming the process, a tuxedo-sporting Duffy appeared on Thursday’s Power and Politics show to interrupt, insult and fire innuendo at Stoffer, snarling in disgust as he blasted the popular MP as a â€˜faker’.
Now, Duffy calling someone a faker equals pot calling the kettle black.
This is the same Duffy who, as host of his own politics show, presented himself for decades as journalistically neutral, then accepted Harper’s $130,000 appointment ten months ago and now devotes his energies to shamelessly shilling for the Conservatives.
That’s the definition of fakery for you, particularly given he was appointed after airing that infamous CTV interview with then-Liberal leader Stephane Dion, a bumbling performance credited by some as the turning point of the 2008 election campaign for Stephen Harper.
Martin was taking on Duffy before it was cool to do so.
In 2004, when I arrived in Ottawa to cover politics for the Halifax Chronicle Herald, I was lucky to get a desk in the press gallery between Maurice Godin, a canny Radio-Canada veteran, and Mike Duffy, who was then the host of CTVâ€™s political show.
Both Godin and Duffy were kind to the East Coast greenhorn, and since Godin was on the Hill in the morning and Duffy in the afternoon, I was often able to get help with a story from two of the best reporters on the Hill without leaving my desk.
I got to be friends with Duffy, a twinkly-eyed storyteller with a love for gossip and cold white wine.
He was kind enough to have me on his show a few times, including the night of Oct. 9, 2008, when CTV decided to air some outtakes from an interview in which Liberal leader Stephane Dion struggled to answer a confusing question.
I thought CTV was right to air the clip, since Dion wanted to be prime minister, but I thought Duffyâ€™s take on the interview was way over the top. He treated it like the biggest gaffe since Robert Stanfield fumbled a football, and Iâ€™m embarrassed to say I squirmed through the panel discussion without saying that.
Duffy was in the tank for the Tories because he wanted Harper to appoint him to the Senate.
Saying Duffy did the Dion interview to get in the Senate was like suggesting that Steve Smith scored on his own goal in 1986 because he wanted to play for the Calgary Flames.
(that video never gets old)
Bonus link: Here is a video of what looks to be an intoxicated Mike Duffy attacking MPs and the Canadian Press.Â The best part of the video is Duffy attacking Peter Stoffer on his expenses while defending his own.
Six months after he was appointed to the Senate, Mike Duffy was in consultations with Conservatives about an expanded role in the party and expectations of increased compensation, including his own suggestion he be named a minister without portfolio to get a car and staff, according to an email exchange obtained by CBC News.
The email, with the subject line “Duff” and dated July 2009, appears to be sent from Duffy’s private email account to an unidentified Conservative supporter.
The email asks for advice about how Duffy should be compensated for what the email calls “my expanded role in the party.” In the message, Duffy says he’ll be speaking with Conservative Senator Irving Gerstein at a Senate golf banquet, but seems to indicate he’d already spoken with Gerstein.
The email goes on, “I suggested they make me a min without portfolio, so I get a staff, car and more resources to deal with the pr fallout etc. he laughed and sid he didn’t think THAT was within the realm of the Cons fund.”
It gets worse for Duffy so make sure you read the entire thing. Â My feeling is that there will be an embarrassing email every day until Duffy resigns from the Senate. Â It also appears that more than anything that Duffy wanted to be a playerÂ in the Conservative Party. Â This story will be written about in psychology texts for generations.
Weâ€™re all very, very, very disappointedâ€”some would use stronger language than disappointedâ€”with the actions of some of our Senatorial colleagues but in terms of our House caucus, itâ€™s very good morale. We understand, look there are some problems that need to be addressed without question. No oneâ€™s down in the dumps,â€ he said. â€œWeâ€™re all very unified, weâ€™re very upbeat, and I think thatâ€™s an excellent sign. It shows the maturity I think of our caucus.
Thereâ€™s always time for the prodigal son to repent but they have to show that theyâ€™ve learned a lesson. Itâ€™s why any solution to the problem wonâ€™t include saving the Senate,â€ the source said. â€œThey gave Duffy the benefit of the doubt, but itâ€™s clear now he didnâ€™t deserve it. He abused it, so the government stopped defending him. Mike Duffy has been revealed to be a morally weak, indiscreet individual not deserving of the office he held. Itâ€™s why he will be hounded out of the Senate.
â€œIt unravelled because Duffy couldnâ€™t keep quiet. He sent emails all over the city and he told too many people about it and some of them told me,â€ Mr. Fife told CTVâ€™s Lisa LaFlamme in a talk-back when the story broke that night.
Â Unreal and kind of funny at the same time. Â Duffy finally gets an out of the problems that he is in and the sinks it because he can’t stop talking about it.
Just a related note. Â I can’t see Duffy resigning because what else can he do now? Â Would any media outlet touch him? Â
Even before the media-shy Wright stumbled unintentionally into the spotlight, the Conservatives had arguably sunk to their lowest point since Harper first won power in 2006. Theyâ€™ve spent most of 2013 on the defensive over controversies such as companies using a federal immigration program to hire foreign workers instead of Canadians, and an auditor generalâ€™s report that found the government couldnâ€™t account for how $3.1 billion earmarked for public security was actually spent. Promised trade deals havenâ€™t been inked. Highly touted pipelines are in doubt. Overall economic growth is tepid. Tory attack ads against Justin Trudeau evidently fizzled, since the Liberals now top the polls under their new leader. And Harper canâ€™t count anymore on lock-step discipline from his MPs, after some defiant Conservative backbenchers recently asserted their right to speak in the House without permission from the party leadership.
No wonder a crisis mood was setting in before an emergency Conservative caucus meeting Harper called early this week to try to first calm, and then rally, his troops. He voiced predictable disappointment over the Senate mess, didnâ€™t dare to mention Wright and then urged his MPs to get back to basics. â€œCanadians are looking to us to protect themâ€”their jobs, their families, their communities,â€ he said. â€œThat is what we must be focused on.â€ Goldy Hyder, long-time Tory insider and president of the public-affairs and -relations firm Hill & Knowlton Canada, says Harper has plenty of time to orchestrate a rebound. After all, this summer will mark only about the midpoint of his first majority term. â€œThe issue,â€ Hyder says, â€œis how you use that half-time break to develop a strategy to execute for the second half.â€
Harperâ€™s lecture to caucus, which was open to the media, was his first public show of personal attention to a dangerously volatile situation. A more methodical rebuilding effort is expected to begin with a major speech at a Tory policy convention in late June. Later in the summer, he is widely expected to shuffle his cabinet, before a Speech from the Throne next fall recasts his agenda. All this was in the works before Wrightâ€™s stunning fall. Now, Harper must strive to stay on track against howls of opposition outrage. The NDP suggests Wrightâ€™s decision to cut that fat cheque was linked to a Senate committeeâ€™s agreement to soften the more damaging parts of an audit report on Duffyâ€™s expenses. The official Opposition has asked RCMP Commissioner Robert Paulson to investigate. â€œWhat we do know is that a secret cheque was written for $90,000,â€ said NDP ethics critic, Charlie Angus. â€œAnd we understand there may have been interference with that Senate report. This suggests a much larger issue that is at the very desk of the Prime Minister.â€
Harper finds himself under direct fire after several months of watching many of his top cabinet performers forced into defensive postures. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney had to scramble to announce changes to that Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which he had previously promoted as a big success, after news of companies passing over Canadians to make room for cheaper labour from abroad. Human Resources Minister Diane Finley tabled stricter Employment Insurance eligibility rules last year, but still hasnâ€™t quelled the backlash over the impact on seasonal workers, and now faces the Atlantic-province premiers jointly demanding a halt to the changes. Foreign Minister John Baird is fighting in the United Nations to stave off a bid by Qatar to lure away the prestigious headquarters of the UNâ€™s International Civil Aviation Organization from Montreal, but may be hampered by ill will among Arab countries and beyond, generated by Harperâ€™s unbending support for Israel.
Still, foreign affairs, immigration and EI arenâ€™t essential ingredients of the Harper formula. What matters more is his image as a prudent spender of public money and a smart strategist on the economy. Yet his government is looking vulnerable on both those fronts, too. That $3.1-billion gap the auditor general reported in federal accounting has made it difficult lately for Treasury Board President Tony Clement to boast of the Toriesâ€™ attention to every taxpayerâ€™s dime. When it comes to reckless spending, another favourite opposition target is the estimated $46-billion plan to buy 65 F-35 fighter jets. Despite announcing late last year that other fighter-jet options would be considered, the government recently paid about $40 million to remain in the U.S.-led F-35 consortium until at least next fall, which means this drawn-out military-procurement mess remains very much alive.
Maybe it’s a lack of strategic thinking
A shortage of strategic thinking across many policy areas might be a reason the Harper government has lacked a feeling of forward thrust in recent months. David Zussman, a University of Ottawa professor of public-sector management, says Harperâ€™s Conservatives donâ€™t often turn to senior bureaucrats for ideas, relying on them only to â€œloyally implementâ€ policy, rather than offer advice on its broad direction. Cutting mandarins out of the high-level planning leaves political aides to do more of the deep thinkingâ€”and many Conservatives admired Wright as the deepest of them all. Along with managing the Prime Ministerâ€™s Office and chairing a key weekly meeting with cabinet ministersâ€™ chiefs of staff, Wright selectively stickhandled problematic files.Â
It’s going to be a tough two years ahead. Â I am not saying he won’t be re-elected but this isn’t a government that does things easily.
Mike was great company. Amusing, affable, a life-of-the-party charmer. He was also needy and driven by a desire to be somebody.
Ever since the mid-â€™60s, when he was a teen disc jockey at CFCY-TV in Charlottetown, Mike dreamed of a career in broadcasting. Critics told him heâ€™d never make it. Your voice is too high. Lose some weight. Duffy ignored them. â€œI was going to get somewhere, despite what everyone thought,â€ he later told the Globe and Mail.
Determined to make his name as a political reporter, Duffy moved to Ottawa in 1971 to work on Parliament Hill. After two years with CFRA Radio, he jumped to CBC Radio, then, in
1977, to CBC-TVâ€™s national news. The jolly DJ from P.E.I. had confounded his critics and made it to the show.
Once he got to the top, Duffy worked even harder, earning a reputation for edgy reporting. He covered the fall of Saigon, won an ACTRA award for his coverage of a terrorist attack on the Turkish embassy in Ottawa, and provoked Brian Mulroney into suing him and the CBC over a story about how Mulroneyâ€™s goons backstabbed Joe Clark.
But by 1988, after 10 years as Peter Mansbridgeâ€™s sidekick, Duffy yearned to see his name in lights. When Baton Broadcasting offered him a small fortune to host his own politics show, he seized the opportunity.
Now he had a pulpit to sell the â€œDuffâ€ brand and transform himself into a million-dollar enterprise â€” the Don Cherry of Canadian politics. He worked the Ottawa cocktail circuit and boasted about partying at â€œJoe and Maureenâ€™s,â€ made after-dinner speeches at the Rideau Club, and bragged that he was doing â€œcharity things with Mila.â€ Friends took to calling him Senator Duffy.
â€œMike developed â€˜hostâ€™s disease,â€™â€ says Linden MacIntyre, a Duffy drinking buddy from the Maritimes, now with CBCâ€™s the fifth estate. â€œThatâ€™s where you start to believe all the flattery, believe youâ€™re bigger than the story. The affliction gets worse, the head swells up and anything that threatens your celebrity becomes a problem.â€
So what’s the long term impact?
These days, the ruckus over his residency has the embattled senator scurrying out back doors and hiding in hotel kitchens to avoid inconvenient questions from the media.
I remember a time when the old Mike Duffy, award-winning CBC reporter, would barge through those kitchen doors and demand that Senator Duffy explain himself.
But that was long ago.