Baldly going where no senator has

There’s a reason for Mike Duffy’s behaviour of late: he’s taking down the Senate from within

by Scott Feschuk

Baldly going where no senator hasIs it too soon to nominate the 2010 Maclean’s Parliamentarian of the Year? Because I vote for Senator Mike Duffy. Other politicians may achieve the improbable—passing a private member’s bill, for instance, or shutting up for two consecutive seconds (keep trying, John Baird)—but the former TV show host has done the impossible: he has made the people of Canada actually pay attention to a senator.

For decades now, being appointed to the upper chamber has been like joining a club—not a cool club like the Friars Club or even a useful club like the Hair Club for Men, but a club whose proceedings go entirely unnoticed by society at large. Think of it as Fight Club but with naps instead of fist fights.

At first, Duffy seems to fit right in. He has travelled the country making the kinds of speeches that senators are known for making (the kind that, if dullness were venom, could incapacitate a water buffalo).

In Kamloops, B.C., this past summer, Duffy boldly came out in favour of . . . trees. The headline in the local newspaper read, “Use More Wood, Senator Urges”—which was either a direct appeal by Mike Duffy to Canada’s construction industry or Viagra’s least effective slogan-spokesman combination ever.

In Kelowna, Duffy revealed startling news about legislative procedure: “Once you get in there, you realize that every piece of legislation passed by Parliament has to go through the Senate prior to adoption.” Holy nutballs, do the Fathers of Confederation know about this?? Someone alert the ghost of Adams Archibald.

But even then, there were signs that Mike Duffy was not going to go gentle into that good salary.

For some reason, he started talking about how he’d never had any interest in being appointed to the Senate. No interest in the Senate? Mike Duffy?? Come now. Mike Duffy was not interested in the Senate the way Kirstie Alley is not interested in whether you’re going to finish that burrito. The final three years of Duffy’s television show were so blatant an audition for a Senate appointment that he practically held up a sign saying, “Will work for sinecure.”

Then Duffy made the claim that he’d wanted to go into the upper chamber not as a Conservative but as an Independent. And man, he was soooo passionately devoted to the principle of serving as an Independent that he completely and utterly resisted being a Conservative right up until the moment Stephen Harper politely asked him. Which makes Duffy pretty much just like the Braveheart guy, right? They may take our lives but they’ll never take our . . . —wait, you’re going to do what to my head? Whoa, whoa, you can have Scotland.

Over the past several months, the allegedly Independent Duffy has become so hyper-partisan that his 2009 tax return will have to list the Prime Minister’s posterior as the common-law spouse of his lips.

He told one audience: “Your federal government is moving heaven and earth, literally, to protect Canadians from the economic downturn.” He urged another to “become born-again Canadians [and] explain to our kids, our families and our neighbours why the Conservatives are the party they can count on to work for them and for their values.” (Born-again Canadians? Makes sense, I guess. To paraphrase Jesus, only those who are born again shall be able to see the glory of oversized novelty cheques in their ridings.)

Duffy even filmed an infomercial, distributed to loyal Conservatives by email, in which he went on about how great Canada is doing, how great it is to be doing so great and—above all—how all greaty great it is that all this greatness is on account of Stephen Harper. The “strong leadership of Stephen Harper.” The “decisive steps” of Stephen Harper. The “loving hands and rippling torso of Stephen Harper.” (I may be paraphrasing.)

Most recently, Duffy appeared on CBC News Network’s national politics show and engaged in an instantly legendary debate with New Democrat Peter Stoffer. Stoffer was there to make the point that Harper had famously pledged never to appoint senators—but then went and appointed 27 of them, and they’re going to cost Canadians $177 million over the span of their terms. Duffy, meanwhile, was there to make the point that BWAAAAAAHHHH! PETER STOFFER IS A FAKER!!!! HE’S A BIG FAT FAKER WHO FAKES AND IS A JOKE AND IS A FAKER!!!!!! (That isn’t a direct transcript—his comments are toned down to seem less hysterical.)

Duffy’s year of living partisanly is enough to make one suspect that Stephen Harper is committed to Senate reform after all—he’s just going about it all sneaky-like, shrewdly moving Canadians toward a consensus in favour of any constitutional amendment that would get rid of the bald man who keeps squealing “FAKER!!!” on the TV. The Prime Minister has sent Mike Duffy on a double-secret mission to take down the Canadian Senate from within. So far, so good.




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Baldly going where no senator has

  1. Over the past several months, the allegedly Independent Duffy has become so hyper-partisan that his 2009 tax return will have to list the Prime Minister's posterior as the common-law spouse of his lips.

    Heh. Good one.

  2. 'The Prime Minister has sent Mike Duffy on a double-secret mission to take down the Canadian Senate from within. So far, so good'

    I guess the senate's been on life support for a while now. It just needed someone or something to give it a nudge. it can die of a comman cold…cue the man…cue the virus Duffy. Better get your shots now!

  3. Considering that Harper probably does want to destroy the senate, you may have a point. Good satire.

    PS: Ignatieff needs to hire you as a speech-writer. Your blog was just about the only thing the Liberals did right in that campaign. I realize Warren Kinsella is trying to do the same with his website, to some extent, but he fails miserably. He lacks your wit, eloquence, cultural literacy, and ability to distance himself from his partisan leanings. I also had this image in my mind of Paul Martin looking at the day's memo on the bus, standing up, and shouting "FESCHUUUUUUK!" like he was the dean in some movie about a university.

  4. Brilliant! A must read.

    • don't you imagine one would have read it if they've gotten to your post? do you mean i must read it again?

  5. No question, Canada would be a better country without the 105 do-nothing, accountable to no-one Senators.

    But even presuming it is his ultra-secret (and ultra-plausible) mission to bring the joint down from the inside, Duffy's $130,000 salary and $100,000 worth of lifestyle-enhancements is still too much for Canadians to pay for the service.

    The NDPers are right: Senate: don't fill it, kill it.

    • What are lifestyle-enhancements? Didn't I see Duffman at Viagra Falls?

  6. I luv the Duff!!
    Canadian politics is so boring, we need some spice to shake things up.
    I mean, Harper has been evil and mean since 2003, and evil, mean and incompetent since winning in 2006,
    and big surprise,
    Donolo says Harper is evil, mean and incompetent…at least the Duff can rock the boat a little!

    • "…at least the Duff can rock the boat a little!

      lol Don't you mean swamp the ship of state?

    • "Canadian politics is so boring, we need some spice to shake things up. "

      You need to get a life.

  7. To baldy go where no one has gone before.
    His 8 year mission to seek out new food sources,
    And render toxic a 130 year old institution,
    While single mindedly ending the tryranny of unelected
    Senators,..
    Oh… and rid the universe of doughnuts.

    What a guy!

  8. Look the Senate is an arcane, corpulent vestige from another era chock full of unelected partisan hacks for the most part that needs to be overhauled or abolished…I mean who doesn't know that.
    The Conservatives have been trying to get Senators to be elected for some time now and the Liberals have, again and again and again at every turn, been utter obstructionists in preventing that from happening and as they presently hold a majority, have succeeded…for now.
    All the new Conservative Senators (including Senator Duffy) have all gone on the record as saying they support an elected Senate and would not stay on until 75 as it is now allowed.
    Finally I find it more than a bit rich that a guy like Scott Feschuk… a long time Liberal toady, fart catcher and speech writer for Paul Martin and the Liberal Party of Canada.. is accusing ANYONE of being a partisan hack!

    • speaking of partisan hacks….

    • "The Conservatives have been trying to get Senators to be elected for some time now and the Liberals have, again and again and again at every turn, been utter obstructionists in preventing that from happening"

      Prove it – and not just a media report – we want solid, documented proof that the Liberals have voted against this.

    • Sorry mate, but until the conservatives introduce legislation or a referendum, they haven't really tried. Nobody believes the talking point that the Liberals are getting in the way. The reality is in the Conservatives version of an elected senate it will absolutely screw Ontario, and they aren't willing to risk it.

  9. There is no one in politics so obviously the Butt of jokes as mike Duffy. Everything about him is comedic.

    If Pigs could Fly, Mike Duffy would not need Air Miles.

  10. Way to go Duffer : this guy has always been a hoot – what a great choice for a Senator .. I mean really folks. Up until now I have always been for an elected senate but what can Stevie boy do when most of the provinces wont take him up on the offer .. so there you go .. The Duffer to the Senate – kind of a modern day version of caligula appointing his horse to the senate = ROFLMFAO!

    • You know, there is nothing stopping "Stevie Boy" from holding an election. He holds an election for the lower house, why can't he hold one for the Upper (even if it was not legally binding)?

  11. I've always viewed Duffy's appointment as an extension on the general Conservative rallying cry, "Government can't do anything right (and we're here to prove it)"

    • How about by getting elected TWO times so far; on the way to a third..maybe even a majority!!
      No amount of equivocating by this little self-validating log rolling, backscratching club of 1960s Trudeau-pian collectivist mindspeak, can EVER change the channel on the 40 or 50 year LPOC record of corruption, scandal, incompetence and/or a undemocratically stacked Senate; as evidenced in the utterly appalling Adscam Scandal, the infamous HRDC Boondoggle, the unbelievable Shawinigate Scandal, the totally wrong headed Gun Registry Scandal, the sleazy Canada Lands Scandal to name a few, bilking the Canadian taxpayer out of MILLIONS for decades and directing the misappropriated lucre to themselves, have proved FOREVER where liberal loyalties lie and that the liberals put the interests of their party and it's vast coterie of bloddsuckers and hangers-on above the interests of Canada and the Canadian people.
      There is still $48 MILLION of Canadian taxpayer dollars missing to this day and maybe with a CPOC majority Canadian taxpayers can see precisely into 'whose' bank accounts all that money disappeared.

      You're out of power for a reason(s) and Stephen Harper, while not being exactly a media spotlight celebrity darling, is an absolute straight shooter of a guy trying to do his honest best for Canada in a sea of shilling connivers.

      Ordinary Canadians from coast to coast, relate.

      • I love being painted as someone study in a Trudeau mindset, being that I wasn't alive when Trudeau was in power. I'm also a bit confused at being characterized as being out of power, when I was never in power in the first place, as I'm not a politician and have never been affliated with any political party.

        Besides, when it comes to fiscal responsibility and transparency, as poor as the Liberals are, the Conservatives are just as bad. It's beyond the pot calling the kettle black, it's the pot insulting and kicking the kettle for being black. The big difference here is that the Conservatives campaign on a laissez-faire economic policy and one of lowered regulation, the argument often being that the government shouldn't be making decisions – which they prove the majority of the time they try to make a decision.

  12. Interesting. Of course, if Duffy's intent was to take down the senate, he would be SUPPOORTING Peter Stoffer, not laying smackdown.

    Oh well! back the to the drawing board.

    • unless Peter was in on it and they agreed to make war with each other so each could play to their particular base! .. think about it …

  13. Duffy is working hard in the Senate. He probably took a big pay cut when he accepted the job. This column is a cheap shot.

    • It's a humour piece, so funny cheap shots are why we're here reading it!

    • Perhaps you should lighten up sir.

  14. Another Article by Feschuk that seems to be months behind the story.Everybody knows Harper appointed these people to undermine the Senate.He might have wrote it to use tired old attempts at humor like the Kirstie Alley burrito schtick or using a juvenile Viagra joke.

    • MIGHT have?! How dare you question my commitment to Kirstie Alley burrito jokes??

      • Those aren't thighs, they're separate franchises. Thank you! Please tip your waiter!

        • well done – a true mark of subtlety mixed with word play … it works!

  15. Senate: the final frontier.

    These are the voyages of the starblimp Duffy.

    His twelve-year mission: to explore strange new restaurants, to seek out new fakers and utter uber-exaggerations; to boldly kiss butt as no hack has done before.

  16. …other than you Warren! ROTFL!!!

  17. Is this seriously what has become of Maclean's magazine? I've no strong opinions on the topic of this editorial piece. I think it's sad, though, that Maclean's has chosen to go in this gossip-magazine direction. Maclean's used to be a respectful magazine. Now it would be more at home in the supermarket checkout aisle.

    • That's only because you're not very sharp. This is a humour column, not a serious opinion piece. It just so happens that he has an excellent point.

  18. Scott Fesupchuk is just sore that his year of kissing Dithers posterior didn't land him a senate gig. Waaaaaa Waaaa Waaaa. Little Jimmy Munson sends his love from the red chamber…..

  19. Incredible! Well done Scott. This is the best AND most enjoyable article I’ve read in a long time. Thanks.

  20. This guy is no different than all the others. Loves to be at the public trough.

  21. brilliant move mr. harper, although only the woodenheaded liberals will cry and moan about it. a 5th collumn to prevent the stuffing of the senate with more and more bonehead criminal loving canadian society destroyer liberals, canada has steadily gone downhill since the trudeau disease infected the country. so many people have drowned in the ocean between the U. S. and cuba. too bad one of them was not P.E.T.

  22. If Duffy is so willing to be blatantly partisan, I'm more comfortable seeing him in the Senate than seeing him try to be an objective journalist. It's better when the wolves are in wolf's clothing.

  23. Mr. Feschuk we have talked about this before and your overuse of (and overreliance on) Kristie Alley jokes is lame and outdated. Everybody stopped paying attention to her yoyo weight problems in the 90s. If you want your satire to have contemporary relevance you could have said:
    Mike Duffy was not interested in the Senate the way Dean Del Mastra is not interested in whether you're going to finish that burrito.

    • Or as my 6 month old nephew would say “WAA WAA WAA”. My condolences on the humour bypass.

    • PeteTong – I didn't know what "contemporary relevance" meant but from your example I now assume it translates as "funny to the four people who know who he is."

  24. The Americanization of our political journalism continues apace. Uncomfortable truths can only ever be expressed in the form of satire. Telling it straight up gets you exiled…or deleted, as Andrew Potter's post about the execrable Mike Duffy last year (at a time when it really mattered) proves all to well.

    Sure, this stuff makes for great humour. But does it make for great politics and governance? Not in the least.

  25. You're getting funnier and less high-schooly as time goes by. You're not yet a P.J. O'Rourke but you're on your way.

    • PJ O'Rourke hasn't been funny in decade. And he'll be the first to admit it.

      • Ahh yes, being funny RIGHT NOW to anonymous people, that’s what matters.

  26. I feel a wee teeny bit sorry for Duff. It’s too bad he’s such a magnet for jokes. However, he does share a nice big hunking chunk of the blame for his situation.

  27. Duffy is irrelevant and harmless. Actually, he is far less objectionable than Del Mastro, Polievre, Coderre, Chow et al in that other place.

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