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Another Mike Duffy leak

It just keeps getting worse for Mike Duffy

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.  My feeling is that there will be an embarrassing email every day until Duffy resigns from the Senate.  It also appears that more than anything that Duffy wanted to be a player in the Conservative Party.  This story will be written about in psychology texts for generations.

Mike Duffy, meet the bus we are going to throw you under

Strong words from Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski (Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre)

We’re all very, very, very disappointed—some would use stronger language than disappointed—with the actions of some of our Senatorial colleagues but in terms of our House caucus, it’s very good morale. We understand, look there are some problems that need to be addressed without question. No one’s down in the dumps,” he said. “We’re all very unified, we’re very upbeat, and I think that’s an excellent sign. It shows the maturity I think of our caucus.

There’s always time for the prodigal son to repent but they have to show that they’ve learned a lesson. It’s why any solution to the problem won’t include saving the Senate,” the source said. “They gave Duffy the benefit of the doubt, but it’s clear now he didn’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. It’s why he will be hounded out of the Senate.

The value of the sober second thought

Sober second thought on Arctic patrol ships by Senator Colin Kenny

Regardless of whether we end up with one ship, or eight, these ships are wrong for Canada. They are being built so the Canadian Navy can patrol our Arctic waters. The Navy hasn’t patrolled our Arctic waters for more than half a century, and with good reason: There is no military threat there. Sovereignty issues will be decided by international organizations and negotiations. Nobody is going to start a war in the Arctic.

The Canadian Coast Guard patrols our Arctic waters with icebreakers that are in dire need of replacing. The patrol vessels won’t be able to break anything more than summer ice. They will be useless in the Arctic in the winter, so they will be shipped to Canada’s East and West Coasts, where they won’t be able to do much more good, because they will be slower than most fishing vessels, will have guns that will be too small for full-scale combat and will have no mine-sweeping capacity.

Which brings us to the many ships the Canadian Navy actually needs: minesweepers, destroyers and frigates. The navy is staggering along with two antique destroyers, 12 frigates passing their mid-lives and, at last count, one fully operational submarine. Navy documents show that even this tiny fleet will be diminished over the next decade. Many frigates are unavailable during refit and the destroyers will become so old that maintenance costs will become prohibitive.

This probably won’t change many minds in Ottawa but it is nice that we have some senators like Colin Kenny holding the government to account on policy issues.

On the Take

All but three of the 45 senators who voted against gun control measures received donations from the NRA and other pro-gun groups.

All but three of the 45 senators who torpedoed gun control measures in Congress on Wednesday have received money from firearms lobbyists, according to new analysis by the Guardian and the Sunlight Foundation.

Some, such as Indiana Republican Dan Coats, registered donations from pro-shooting groups as recently as three weeks ago, when the proposal to extend background checks was still seen as likely to pass.

President Obama and congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived a gun attack, have both accused the Senate of being in thrall to gun money following Wednesday’s vote. “They worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-second amendment,” said Obama.

Yet campaign disclosures show the group were also direct recipients of gun cash. The National Rifle Association alone has given $800,000 to 40 of the senators who voted against the amendment since 1990, much of it in the run-up to the last election, according to Sunlight Foundation figures.

Information for the period since the Newtown school shooting is harder to come by because many quarterly filings due out on Tuesday have been delayed by the suspected ricin attack on members of Congress.

But Guardian analysis of the data available so far for 2013 reveals that some groups have continued to be active outside the election cycle – including Safari Club International, a pro-hunting organisation which gave $1,000 to Senator Coats on 29 March, according to the filings.

Documents also show the NRA saw a surge in donations to its lobbying arm in the months following Newtown – registering a record $2.7m in cash during January and February. Further disclosures showing the scale of its recent donations, particularly to politicians in the House of Representatives, are expected on Saturday.

The Gun Owners of America and National Association for Gun Rights – two groups seen as more conservative than the NRA – have also been active in the Senate, giving $9,000 and $5,000 respectively to Ted Cruz, one of the leaders of Republican opposition to the amendment.

Gabby Giffords has this commentary

Senators say they fear the N.R.A. and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets. The fear that those children who survived the massacre must feel every time they remember their teachers stacking them into closets and bathrooms, whispering that they loved them, so that love would be the last thing the students heard if the gunman found them.

On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Blacksburg, Va., and too many communities to count.

Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.

I watch TV and read the papers like everyone else. We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.

Speaking is physically difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe. We cannot allow the status quo — desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation — to go on.

I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences.

Memories of Mike Duffy from Frank Magazine

An interesting and rather sad profile of Mike Duffy from the publisher of Frank Magazine

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-’60s, when he was a teen disc jockey at CFCY-TV in Charlottetown, Mike dreamed of a career in broadcasting. Critics told him he’d never make it. Your voice is too high. Lose some weight. Duffy ignored them. “I was going to get somewhere, despite what everyone thought,” 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-TV’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 Mulroney’s goons backstabbed Joe Clark.

But by 1988, after 10 years as Peter Mansbridge’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 “Duff” brand and transform himself into a million-dollar enterprise — the Don Cherry of Canadian politics. He worked the Ottawa cocktail circuit and boasted about partying at “Joe and Maureen’s,” made after-dinner speeches at the Rideau Club, and bragged that he was doing “charity things with Mila.” Friends took to calling him Senator Duffy.

“Mike developed ‘host’s disease,’” says Linden MacIntyre, a Duffy drinking buddy from the Maritimes, now with CBC’s the fifth estate. “That’s where you start to believe all the flattery, believe you’re bigger than the story. The affliction gets worse, the head swells up and anything that threatens your celebrity becomes a problem.”

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.

Warren Kinsella on the Senate Spending Scandal

Warren Kinsella wades into the ongoing spending scandal in the Senate

Why do people in high-profile positions spend taxpayer dollars as if it were their own? Don’t they know they will always get caught?

One American psychotherapist, Judith Acosta, tried to answer the question in an essay. She was blunt: Politicians, she says, are sociopaths.

It’s a tempting analysis, but having spent most of my adult life around politicians I am inclined towards a different, admittedly unscientific, assessment.

Politicians are (clearly) goal-driven. They tend to regard the universe as a win-lose proposition. They believe that, upon election or appointment, they have been admitted to another plane of existence, wherein (as Acosta says) the rules do not apply to them so much, or at all.

I’ve also found that they harbour deep resentments. Every day, they meet rich and powerful people who want things from them. Because they work hard, and they don’t have much of a life anymore, they feel — and my heart sank the first time I heard this now-storied phrase — they are entitled to their entitlements. Rules, begone.

That doesn’t make them sociopaths. They are, instead, next-door neighbours.

They see the grass on the other side, they see it is greener, and they want it.

So they go after it, and they don’t give a damn who is paying the bill.

The folly of an elected Senate

From the Globe and Mail

The architects of the U.S. Constitution intentionally designed a system to frustrate the ability of their government to act, so traumatized were they by their revolution against mother Britain. As the world now witnesses, they succeeded brilliantly.

The White House, House of Representatives and Senate are locked in a chronic, grisly dance of obstruction and checkmate, grievously undermining America’s capacity to act in its own interests on the issues of the day. Its system of hyper “checks and balances” has grown so constipated and incomprehensible that the great ship of the United States is visibly drifting on the seas of history, to the anguish of the world.

Why would we want to graft these debilitating dynamics onto our own parliamentary system, which is so superior to that of the U.S., by electing the Canadian Senate?

Surprisingly, under our Constitution, Canada’s appointed Senate is equal in power to the House of Commons in most ways. Legally, it can veto almost any legislation from the House if it wishes. The only reason Canada’s Senate doesn’t do this is because it’s unelected: It doesn’t have the democratic right to override elected MPs, as the U.S. does. That’s our salvation.

Canadians are spared the depressing sight of countless, moneyed special interests inflamed by greasy access to powerful individuals in the upper house (and the lower one) who need not follow party lines, and who can act with impunity for parochial interests. Empowering Canada’s Senate through its election would import precisely the deep structural corruption that the U.S. Constitution incites in that country, infamously and tragically.

In Canada, the party in office generally has the capacity to implement its program through the House with full public debate, and be held accountable for the results every four years. The parliamentary system allows a party to govern within constraints of law and precedent. It allows a government to take wise (and dumb) decisions in the face of entrenched interests (and public opinion in the short run) in a timely, transparent and accountable manner. Starkly un-American.

Our Constitution says the method of selecting senators can be changed only by a constitutional amendment requiring support of Parliament and at least seven provinces with a majority of Canada’s population. This is what you would expect, given how profoundly important this question is.

Mr. Harper says he is not changing the method of selection by appointing provincially elected members – although the whole purpose of appointing elected people is to fundamentally change the nature of Parliament itself. This is a back-alley feint that, if it went very far, would be challenged as unconstitutional before the Supreme Court.

Meantime, Ontario and Quebec (among most provinces for various reasons) are not offering up “elected” Senate candidates to Mr. Harper, because they don’t want yet another unrepresentative level of government in Ottawa, and perhaps because they appreciate the virtues of the parliamentary system as it stands.

I have long argued this that an elected senate would make the country increasingly ungovernable and yet my Conservative friends keep pushing it.  The last thing a Prime Minister wants or needs is an obstructionist Senate who has their own political self-interests at play, especially in a time of a crisis yet here Harper wants to take us.  What happens when like in the United States, we vote in a Conservative government with a Liberal or NDP senate whose goal is to obstruct the Prime Minister like what is happening with Barack Obama?  I can actually handle the elimination of the Senate before I want an elected one.