Roundup: The stages of scandal

Kady O’Malley has a piece about the five stages of a Canadian political scandal, and wonders just where the current Bill Morneau imbroglio lies along it. While she’s probably not wrong in that it’s likely hovering near the end-point, I would like to just take a moment to point out that most of this whole affair has been fuelled by weak-sauce allegations and conflated facts, and this particular air of desperation as people keep flinging the equivalent of spaghetti against a wall in the hope that something inevitably sticks.

And there is a complete air of desperation in the latest developments in this case. Bill Morneau paying a $200 fine for failing to disclose his stake in the ownership structure of his French villa – he had disclosed the villa itself – was turned into wails that he was a law-breaker, or that the fine was somehow a sanction for a “conflict of interest” that was never a conflict. And the NDP tried to move a motion to get Bill C-27 withdrawn, because they sailed a conspiracy theory that somehow there was a conflict of interest with a bill that they opposed for ideological reasons, in order to come at a different angle of attack on it. And while is no actual conflict with the bill, it keeps being reported uncritically as though there were.

And that’s probably what gets me the most irritated about these so-called political scandals, is that many are started by poor reporting on thin facts that are designed to be sensational, with follow-ups that are bigger and bigger reaches to the point where it’s a series of mind-numbing conspiracy theories being floated, each of which get amplified in QP. For what? I’m failing to see how imaginary scandals are holding government to account. There are so many other issues that have substantive policy issues that should be debated or explored, and we keep chasing these non-stories because we think there’s blood in the water. But by all means, keep chasing this phantom menace. It’s doing our democracy wonders.

Good reads:

  • The MMIW inquiry tabled their interim report yesterday, and called for the creation of a national police task force to reopen cold cases involving these victims.
  • The government laid out a three-year plan for immigration levels, that will rise to 340,000 new arrivals per year by 2020.
  • Here’s a look at the faux-scandal that erupted over Twitter about the government purchasing luxury vehicles for emission testing post-Volkswagen scandal.
  • The Information Commissioner warned that departments are already starting to deny requests based on Bill C-58 criteria, and it hasn’t even passed yet.
  • New Magnitsky Act sanctions are coming for individuals in Venezuela, Russia, and a third country (yet-unnamed).
  • The Secretary General of the OECD says that Canada, despite being willing to, is lagging behind on cutting its GHG emissions.
  • Apparently rifle exports to Saudi Arabia are up 67 percent this year.
  • We may be sending helicopters to the UN mission in Mali as a way of forestalling criticism that our peacekeeping commitment is taking so long.
  • Civilian workers who cleaned up a nuclear accident at Chalk River in the 1950s are looking for compensation equal to what the military got for radiation exposure.
  • The Senate has come to a deal on committee make-up which gets unveiled later today; the Post has some details on rejected proposals up for discussion.
  • Crisis! GG Julie Payette took jabs at people who deny climate change and advocate creationism while speaking at a science convention. (Not actually a crisis).
  • The Manitoba premier seems to miss the point about why the government is putting in a carbon price floor across the country.
  • Andrew Coyne says that more federal leadership can undermine the grievance-stoking of leaders like Jason Kenney.

Odds and ends:

The widow and son of Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky were in Ottawa to thank Parliamentarians for passing an anti-corruption bill in his name.