“Wait. There is even more.” —Sen. Mike Duffy, speaking in the Senate on Oct. 28
Parliament has sometimes been a place of pride.
Stephen Harper knows that. The Prime Minister stood in his place in the House of Commons on June 11, 2008, and he apologized to generations of aboriginals. He apologized for residential schools, those utterly disgraceful institutions that, with the help of the federal government, ruined countless lives. He sounded sincere. The moment was stunning.
“You have been working on recovering from this experience for a long time, and in a very real sense we are now joining you on this journey,” he said, aboriginal leaders assembled on the floor of the Commons. “The Government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly. We are sorry.”
The government’s relationship with aboriginals across the land has since deteriorated somewhat. The apology, so lauded by all corners, may now sound hollow to many. But no one can take away Parliament’s place in recognizing an historic wrong.
For the last seven days, Parliament has become merely a circus, except not nearly as fun. Mostly, people wearing boring suits are talking and talking and talking about how they’ve done nothing wrong and how the other guy’s playing fast and loose with the truth. Who do you believe? Mike Duffy claims this. Stephen Harper claims that. Pamela Wallin claims this. Marjory Lebreton claims that. Tom Mulcair claims this. Paul Calandra claims that.
We don’t need another lament for Parliament, nor another eulogy for honesty in its chambers. We do need to realize that any semblance of truth only emerges when a politician screws up. The PM never admitted that his former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, told anyone about cutting a controversial cheque to cover Duffy’s expenses until, whoops, he did. The PM always claimed that Wright resigned until, whoops, he told a radio station that he “dismissed” the guy. With every minor tweak comes a little bit of truth.
Yesterday, Duffy claimed in the Senate that Conservative Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton paid the senator’s legal bills, worth $13,560. That was new. The senator tabled documents, including a photocopy of the cheque that covered that particular transaction. Does he have other bombshells he’s willing to table? We can only watch, and guess. The Prime Minister, if he answers questions in the Commons, will be forced to react in his own words. Maybe he’ll screw up, and we’ll learn something new. Maybe not, and we’ll wait a little longer.
Meanwhile, Mulcair is at his finest as this scandal turns ugly. A photo circulated on Twitter that featured the NDP leader in full guffaw as the PM responded to one of his questions in the Commons. Harper’s less consistent, and tends to spit out his lines. The pair can’t like each other much, and why would they?
It wasn’t always so. When Harper rose to apologize for those dastardly residential schools, he looked across the way, far into the corner, and recognized one man among the parliamentarians assembled. He’d already thanked almost everyone who needed thanking.
“Last, but certainly not least, I do want to thank my colleague, the leader of the New Democratic Party,” Harper said of the late Jack Layton. “For the past year and a half, he has spoken to me with regularity and great conviction on the need for this apology. His advice, given across party lines and in confidence, has been persuasive and has been greatly appreciated.”
Some day, maybe years from now, a sitting prime minister will recognize the intelligence of another political leader, and that respect might even be reciprocated. Not this week. Not this month. Not even close. But, well, some day.
What’s above the fold
|The Globe and Mail||Sen. Mike Duffy says his party covered some of his legal expenses.|
|National Post||Duffy rose to defend himself for a second time in the Senate.|
|Toronto Star||The PEI senator says some Tories have “no moral compass.”|
|Ottawa Citizen||The party admitted to paying Duffy’s legal fees.|
|CBC News||Duffy could possess more damaging emails.|
|CTV News||Parliament Hill is packed with high-profile events today.|
|National Newswatch||The Senate will continue to debate suspension of three senators.|
What you might have missed
|THE NATIONAL||Carp. The Great Lakes’ $7-billion fishing industry is threatened by the proliferation of an Asian carp species that’s now capable of reproducing in feeder rivers. Scientists discovered that four fish in the Sandusky River in Ohio, a stream that feeds Lake Erie, reproduced. Unchecked, the invasive species could overrun other fish in the ecosystem.|
|THE GLOBAL||Mexico. Civilians living in the Michoacan state fell victim to their country’s drug war, as groups attacked an electricity grid that left 420,000 residents without power. Several died in the attacks, though authorities wouldn’t elaborate on the circumstances of their deaths. Vigilante groups in the state are now taking on crime groups in an ongoing struggle.|
|THE QUIRKY||Cougar. A woman who survived a grisly cougar attack on Vancouver Island says she hopes people don’t turn against the wild cats. Sandy, whose partner Rick saved her life by stabbing the cougar with s spear, had been stalked by the animal for a number of months. Finally, it attacked, severely injuring her skull, hands, back and shoulders. Sandy is recovering.|