As far as exits go, it was not inconspicuous, and delivered at that golden hour of five to six on the Friday before a long weekend. With the briefest of press releases, Senator Pamela Wallin announced that she has “recused herself” from Conservative caucus until the conclusion of the forensic audit into her travel expenses was complete – which she has been fully cooperative with, she was quick to point out. And word has it that this was not exactly a voluntary move either, but a pre-emptive move in advance of the audit being released that will show that she has to repay even more than the $40,000 she already has – and that said audit will be forwarded directly to the RCMP. More than that, however, her recusal is a necessary strategic move by the Prime Minister. Why? Because when Tuesday rolls around and the NDP stand up in Question Period to bray about how awful the Senate is and all of these scandal-plagued Senators need to be investigated by some outside body, Harper or his designated back-up PM du jour can stand up and say simply that these individuals are no longer in caucus, so it’s no longer their concern and they’ll let the Senate deal with it. And to a certain extent it’s correct that the Senate has to deal with this on their own and there’s nothing that the Commons or the cabinet can do about it, but Harper can’t wash his hands of this. Duffy, Wallin, Brazeau – they were all his appointments. And under our system of government, it means that he and he alone gets to wear this one, no matter what.
As for Senator Mike Duffy, last night’s revelation was that his audit report was indeed whitewashed as part of the deal he made with Nigel Wright for the cheque to repay his expenses. The Senate had already decided to take a look over his expenses yet again in the wake of revelations around his charging per diems while campaigning in 2011. The NDP, meanwhile, wants Elections Canada to check into this, though I fail to see how it’s anywhere near Elections Canada’s domain. It also goes back to their ridiculous position that Senators shouldn’t campaign period, which I will reiterate is ridiculous so long as they’re not charging the Senate for their expense, and it’s up to the Senate and not Elections Canada to check into that. SunTV has also distanced itself from the revelations that Duffy was trying to intervene with the CRTC on their behalf, and while Kory Teneycke labelled Duffy as “radioactive,” he also used the present tense in his disavowal of Duffy’s activities – make of that what you will. The Prime Minister’s spokesperson, however, continued to feed odd lines about the involvement of Nigel Wright in the case – that this was all an altruistic gesture to “protect taxpayers” (never mind the other two Senators also under orders to repay funds), that the supposed altruism should hopefully shield him from the ethics investigation, and that this should somehow be a rallying cry for Senate reform, never mind that none of the proposed “reforms” would actually do anything about this kind of a situation. Breaking rules is breaking rules – period. Both Chantal Hébert and Andrew Coyne write about how this Duffy situation has become a case in point of the culture of entitlement that the Conservatives have availed themselves of, no matter how much they may have decried it going in.
Here’s a curious little tale about a departing CRTC commissioner headed for a new career – at SunTV. He just won’t be able to appear before the CRTC on behalf of his new employers for a year during the cooling off period.
A performance evaluation of First Nations schools by the department of Aboriginal Affairs shows conclusively that First Nations children on reserves are getting an inferior education, though the government is promising to take action on this file.
Elijah Harper, the First Nations chief that was responsible for killing the Meech Lake Accord, passed away at the age of 64.
Susan Delacourt looks at the issues of pollsters getting things wrong, and takes a trip back to the first “scientific election” in 1962, and the ways in which the media continues to treat polling data and elections as though it were still the 1970s.
And Tabatha Southey takes her own crack at the kinds of implausibilities that Duffy and the PMO would have us believe when it comes to the whole sordid affair.