Parliament can make us proud

Just don’t expect that tingly feeling any time soon


Adrian Wyld/CP

“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.


Parliament can make us proud

  1. To bad, us First Nations don’t believe a word that comes out of Harper’s mouth.

    • A wise decision. The man is not trustworthy.

      • But burning down police cars, now that is showing how it`s done!

        • Really? Emily has been burning police cars?

          • Again?

          • LOL!

        • That was the RCMP, they paid a planted protester to torch their own cars.

          Fighting back against an oppressing force isn’t wrong. It’s called self defense.

    • You’re not alone there!

    • power to dah cree

  2. Some day years from now, in what used to be a lovely patronage institution called the Senate, people will look back at this time and remember the sympathetic figure of Mike Duffy explaining to all who would listen, who wrote the cheques that paid for his misspending.
    They will look in pride at the good fight put up by Mulcair to stop Harper, and though he has said little and done nothing, they will remember Trudeau, who still looks real good.
    They will remember the solid reporting of the many journalists dissecting every word Harper mutters, and who, while trying to pin Harper down, inadvertently painted Duffy as the victim.
    They will remember Duffy as the slobbering buffoon who was completely mistaken in his perception as a victim.
    And they will remember Harper as the man who killed the Senate.

    • That just cracked me up…I’m already on my second box of tissues.

      I see you’ve added inadvertently to your spiel now. Moved you off the puck just a tad have we?

  3. Whats also really disappointing and interesting about all these questions and answers coming from all sides in the HOC is, their aren’t many questions being asked or answered in French. if i was a Queberer, i would be offended. i thought we had a bilingual HOC. it seems more appealing to the English speaking population. nothing like hearing the horses mouth. as an English speaking Canadian, i am offended.

    • I also meant the senate.

  4. Odd how Harper seems to have the makings of a superior PM, dare I say statesman only when he doesn’t feel personally threatened or directly challenged.
    Doesn’t take long for something to obscure his very occasional sunny days though.

    • I suggest you watch QP today. I am so sorry I have to miss it.

      But in any case, tell me later how many questions Justin has about that legal fee having been covered by the CPC Fund.

      Or, perhaps Justin will do the institution justice and will inform you on how much Mac Harb`s lawyers got paid out of the Liberal Party fund!

      Come on, Justin, kcm2 is dying to know how much Mac Harb`s lawyer got paid!


      • I hate to break it to you, but there’s a reason the govt sits on one side of the House and the opposition parties on the other. If you haven’t figured that out yet I suggest you don’t bother coming back at all.

        • Oh, relax, kcm2. I know for you people here at Macleans it`s shocking to hear that other people want to hear the truth, and nothing but the truth.

          You full well know I will be back for more deliveries of the truth! The truth is, can you handle it or will you condone the flagging down of posts which talk about the truth………………………


          • Are you off to get your truth serum booster shot then? Hope it doesn’t hurt too much:D

          • Then why are you still a CPC supporter? It’s becoming painfully evident that Harper and the truth barely recognize one another…

          • Stephen Harper: Nothing could be further from the truth.

      • Pssst! Francien! Why have you been ducking my question? I’ll ask it again here for the third time: What is your take on Harper getting caught lying to the HoC – and the country? We’ve gone from “no one” to “a few” and now “resigned” to “dismissed”. Do you still believe he’s being truthful? Is he still your knight in shining armor?

  5. Oh, Nick! You have nothing left but silly comments about this PM!

    You have nothing on Harper. Duffy has nothing on Harper. About three quarter of Canadians want the senators suspended without pay. So sad, eh, when the PM of this country is not at odds with the public at large.

    Nick, the fake scandal did not work. It has backfired on so many members of the media! The media has nothing on Harper and now we must listen to many more months of how Harper is evil and how Harper is ruining our institutions!

    Hey, why don`t you ask Warren Kinsella if he still has that purple dinosaur. Perhaps you can borrow it! :)))

    • Nothing on Harper… except more and more proof that he’s lying his ass off.
      It’s looking more and more like Harper & Duffy hatched a plan together, and then when it fell apart Harper tried to throw Duffy under the bus. No honour among thieves I guess. Turns out that was a bad move. I’m betting I’m betting Duffy has a few more arrows in his sling yet; Stevie better find a few more sacrificial lambs to hide behind.

    • This post wasn’t some attempted takedown of Harper. Just the other day, I was accused of labelling Harper a brilliant mastermind. Why would a Tory shill like me want to harm the PM?

      • See! This is EXACTLY what a Tory shill would write to try to put people off the scent!

  6. It`s kind of hilarious that the usual suspects are claiming that non-Conservative posters are painting Duffy as a victim. We aren`t. Anyone who thinks that expensing dubiously claimed living expenses is a peachy thing to do is beyond the pale. He`s an odious character, but like many larger-than-life egomaniacs, he`s entertaining! I support his right to air all of Stephen Harper`s and the PMO`s dirty laundry in public. Especially this week.

  7. Seems everybody’s in a good mood tonight!

    Okay, MOST people are in a good mood tonight…there’s even jokes!….and it makes a nice change

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