43

Rest assured, Mr. Harper is very upset about all of this

But he will not be distracted from focusing on the economy


 

The Prime Minister arrived to the stage with a slight smile, an acknowledgement perhaps of his caucus’ willingness to stand and applaud his presence at this particular moment. He quickly turned serious.

“Good morning, everyone. Colleagues, obviously the reason I’m speaking to you this morning is I want to talk about some events that have transpired recently. And I don’t think any of you are going to be very surprised to hear that I’m not happy,” he said. “I’m very upset…”

So upset that he would commit here and now to release any and all relevant documents and correspondence in the possession of his office? So upset that he would submit to a news conference today to address the allegations concerning his former top aide? So upset that he would detail precisely what he knows about the arrangement between Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy? So upset that he would offer any kind of explanation here now with all these cameras summoned to transmit his remarks to the nation?

No, no, not that upset. Just upset enough to feel it necessary to tell everyone that he was indeed upset. A revelation that even he conceded was not much of a surprise.

“… about some conduct we have witnessed, the conduct of some parliamentarians and the conduct of my own office.”

In fact, we have not witnessed anything except the spectacle of a government attempting to slowly explain how one of the Prime Minister’s appointees in the Senate had come to pay back some unfortunately claimed expenses and how the Prime Minister’s chief of staff had come to be involved in the return of those funds. The actual events in question occurred entirely in secret.

Now though we would witness self-congratulation paraded for all to see.

“We’ve worked hard collectively, as a party, as a caucus and as a government to dramatically strengthen accountability rules in Ottawa and to apply those standards to ourselves,” Mr. Harper explained. “I need not remind you that in 2006 this government was first elected to clean up the Liberal sponsorship scandal, to ensure the rules are followed and to ensure there are consequences when there are not. Since that time we have taken unprecedented measures to achieve that end. Our federal Accountability Act, the toughest accountability legislation in the history of this country, forever changed the way business is done in Ottawa.”

In so far as perhaps no one other chief of staff has previously been accused of cutting a $90,000 cheque to a sitting senator, it can be said that this much is true. If Mr. Harper promised to change Ottawa, he did not ever specifically say that this precise situation would never occur.

“We have strengthened the powers of the auditor general, toughened the office of the ethics commissioner, reformed political party financing, dramatically tightened lobbying rules and beefed up auditing and accountability within government departments.”

All of which is all well and good, but seemingly irrelevant to the matter at hand: or at least insufficient to prevent it from happening.

“Canada now has one of the most accountable, transparent systems of governance in the entire world and this is something Canadians are rightly proud of.”

So maybe there remain major shortcomings. But always look on the bright side: it could be worse. We could live, for instance, in any of the countries in which the lack of a full explanation for this sort of thing would be considered perfectly unremarkable.

“It is also something, colleagues, we can never taken for granted.”

Indeed. For instance, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff could hypothetically be accused some day of cutting a cheque for a sitting senator and interfering in a Senate investigation.

“Because as I said, in fact as I said in the room across the hall, in the fall of 2005, when we first pledged to bring in the federal Accountability Act, I said this, ‘No government will be perfect because none of us are perfect. We cannot dream a system so perfect that no one will have to be good.’ ”

Consider any sense of perfection duly shattered.

“Therefore, just as we continue to toughen rules, we must also uphold a culture of accountability. And I know that the people in this room have.”

Mr. Duffy and Mr. Wright, of course, were not present. But the Prime Minister obviously was. And it is the actions of his office of which he seems to have been quite unaware and which he seems rather reluctant now to address.

“We have reduced our budgets and travel as a government. We are the caucus that finally bit the bullet and reformed the MP pension plan so that we will pay our fair share.”

This received a standing ovation, the caucus apparently eager to cheer for something entirely unrelated to Mr. Duffy’s housing allowance.

“And I know that like me and my family, you are scrupulous about paying expenses of a personal nature yourselves.”

All of you apparently unaware of Mr. Wright’s willingness and generosity.

“But that said, let me repeat something else I said in that same speech in 2005 and let me be very blunt about it … Anyone, anyone, who wants to use public office for their own benefit should make other plans or, better yet, leave… this… room.”

Here he wagged his left index finger and his caucus again stood to applaud.

“Now colleagues, let me also address the issue of the Senate,” he continued when everyone had returned to their seats. “As Canadians know, I did not get into politics to defend the Senate.”

This drew chuckles.

“And it was this party that put Senate reform on the national agenda. It was this government that has placed before Parliament a bill, opposed by both the Liberals and the NDP, to allow for Senate elections and to put term limits on senators. And, in this room, our colleagues from the Senate have agreed to sit in the other place in order to support our efforts to achieve fundamental, irreversible reform. Colleagues, we have heard from Canadians loud and clear. They want us to continue our efforts. They are asking us to accelerate those efforts. The Senate status quo is not acceptable. Canadians want the Senate to change.”

Pity then that the Conservatives, despite possessing a majority in the House and a majority in the Senate and despite having demonstrated a great willingness to use time allocation to ensure the passage of government legislation, have done nothing with that bill for 14 months.

“Now, as you know, our Senate reforms have been tied up in Parliament for years,” Mr. Harper explained, seemingly without any sense of irony. “Earlier this year, we asked the Supreme Court of Canada to rule on whether the reforms we have proposed can be accomplished by Parliament acting alone. We’ve also asked the court to rule on options for abolishing the Senate completely.”

Apologies to Canadians who were eager for quick change to the Senate. It’s going to be awhile yet.

“And, as we prepare to receive and act on the judgment of the Supreme Court, we will also take further steps in the area of Senate expenditure and accountability. Senator LeBreton and I have discussed this and she has my full support to accelerate changes to the Senate’s rules on expenses and close any loopholes in those existing rules and I expect Conservative senators, regardless of what opposition you may face, to get that done in the Senate.”

A new rule advising against the cutting of cheques by chiefs of staff is apparently necessary.

“Colleagues, we have an active and important agenda on the issues that matter to hardworking Canadian families and there is much work to be done. When distractions arise, as they inevitably will, we will deal with them firmly.”

A distraction. Is that what this is?

“But we cannot lose sight of our top priority. The world we are in remains a deeply uncertain place.”

The sea of troubles, forever lapping at our shores. Do not be distracted by the profound questions about the conduct of Mr. Harper’s departed aide, lest ye be swamped by the perilous waves.

“Canadians are looking to us to protect them — their jobs, their families, their communities.”

Their debts to the Receiver General of Canada.

“That is what we must be focussed on and what we will continue to do: continue to implement our Economic Action Plan, continue to work on expanding trade, continue our focus on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, and continue to ensure that through all the ups and downs of the world economy there remains no better place to be than this country, Canada. So let’s get back to work.”

That work not yet entailing something like a public explanation from the Prime Minister for all that apparently necessitated this speech.

There were shouted questions then from the reporters at the back of the room. Mr. Harper ignored the queries, his caucus chanted his surname. There were efforts then to encourage the exit of the invited reporters—”Thanks folks, thanks everyone,” offered the Prime Minister’s flacks—but the crowd was slow to move. More questions were shouted. The Prime Minister sat at the table at the front of the room and smiled slightly and uncomfortably. One of his senators and two of his cabinet ministers came up to talk to him.

The Prime Minister himself would say no more, at least not publicly. He would leave it to the members of his caucus to later face the hordes who waited outside this room with cameras and spotlights and microphones.


 

Rest assured, Mr. Harper is very upset about all of this

  1. PJ O’Rourke – Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. All through history mankind has been bullied by scum. Those who lord it over their fellows and toss commands in every direction and would boss the grass in the meadows about which way to bend in the wind are the most depraved kind of prostitutes. They will submit to any indignity, perform any vile act, do anything to achieve power. The worst off-sloughings of the planet are the ingredients of sovereignty. Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us.

  2. I find it ironic that Harper says we need to focus on the Economic Action Plan (the Harper government newspeak for our budget) instead of ‘these distractions’…..for a guy who spends as much as he has on buying our favour with our own money touting said Action Plan (aka his government) I would think the last thing he wants us to focus on is that….much less the very poor performance the Harper government has had with our economy.

    • I love the latest ads which are touting a jobs program that does not even exist yet.

      Not only does the emperor have no clothes, but he’s charging us for the ads that say how nice the fabric is.

    • I would suggest that while they are “focusing on the economy” they might at least TRY try find the 3.1 billion $ they lost.

  3. Too bad Canadian msm doesn’t have an investigative journalism culture like in US or UK. Wright/Duffy story, Ford story, these would be progressing nicely if we lived in a different country or we had a better quality of journalist in Canada. It is absurd to read twitter feeds of Canada’s journos, all standing around with thumbs up bums and minds in neutral, wondering what to do next now that Harper has not admitted to any malfeasance.

    Canada’s journos make snarky comments on twitter while waiting for someone to leak more info to Fife, while journos in other counties would have significantly more gumption and try to find out truth of these stories.

    • Wait till the Liberals are back in power. For a preview of what that’ll be like, take a gander down south this morning.

      • I sure hope gawd doesn’t punish us with tornadoes for electing Liberals.

      • you will be waiting a very long time – the worst harper does the more likley he will get re-elected :) – the question isn’t to get rid of harpr but wholl will you vote for to get rid of him – and if your only strategy is to wait 2years – that will drive you crazy :)

        • the worst harper does the more likley he will get re-elected :)

          ***
          CPC supporters seem so proud of this. I hope if I were to ever align myself with a particular party (I’m a Harper hater – with good reason, I feel – but I have some decent things to say about the other ones) I would not put it above the actual welfare of my country.

    • The Ottawa media is so “Yes sir, No sir”, “what’s on the agenda today?”, “Oh thanks for talking to us and giving us a question”.
      But the result has been to insulate Harper into a bubble out of touch with reality. Nothing ever touches him so he now lives in a parallel universe unable to see what is plain and simple for just about everyone else. What an unbelievable speech. Will it work? Will Fife and Coyne and Wherry be left alone or maybe get some help?
      Amazing how some MP’s you might think were smart and independent thinking with some sense of self worth (Michelle Rempel?) can find themselves spouting pure nonsense.
      Another little person inside their heads must listen as they’re speaking and say “is that really me?”.

      • I bet the media would love to be able to deliver on getting more stuff out there, but if nobody is talking then nobody is talking and the PM has decided the fourth estate will not be worthy of his attention. Probably some of it is about micromanaging small groups of supporters rather than go for broad-based appeal.

        And what has Michelle Rempel EVER done to give the impression she is not some hack capable of delivering any level of mistruth on the order of her bosses? Any single thing ever? She’s one of the worst, IMHO.

        • Well, that settles it then. Because you’re the most objective, non-partisan source of information imaginable.

          • That’s very kind of you to say. I do try.

      • I was watching her and wondering if she realizes she’s becoming the female PIerre Polievre, not a reputation I once thought she would seek. On the other hand: there is a cabinet shuffle coming up, and that is one reason why Harper’s lemmings will stay in line behind him over the summer. Because one can always hope that losing self-respect on national television will lead to a prominent career in doing the same thing, only for more money and better orange juice.

  4. Simple solution. Ensure that everyone sitting in that room is never elected again, or in the case of Senators has their office abolished completely.

    Harper will never fall on his own sword, he knew about the deal obviously. But we will never be able to prove it. And thus a new generation of people like Duffy and Wallin, who “know where the bodies” are burried in Ottawa can continue to blackmail for patronage.

    • Abolishing the Senate or changing the rules is a separate conversation. That Harper and team can’t follow the rules we have IS the conversation….and there is no reason that we shouldn’t be able to get to the bottom of it.

      • I’d like to believe that. But this guy is too smart for that. If Harper was going to fall it would have happened today without the joke of a PR conference.

        • Well I admit….the MSM is not what they used to be, they chase the story rather than investigate it more often than not. And the fact that they were all ‘outraged’ today that the PM wouldn’t answer their questions was a little ridiculous….he calls the tune and they dance (whether they are ‘right’ minded or ‘left’ minded editorially)

          • True. Not one of them expected to solicit a response. They were just trying to assuage themselves that they were trying their best, and taking the small consolation that they are at least not quiet sheep.

    • Couldn’t help but agree. If we want change from the senate, the people in it should be change. It’s a start.

      physical therapy coding

  5. “But we cannot lose sight of our top priority. The world we are in remains a deeply uncertain place.”

    Code for shut the **** up or I’m turning this car around.

  6. “Anyone, anyone, who wants to use public office for their own benefit should make other plans or, better yet, leave… this… room.”

    h/t to the National Post commenter who pointed out that 10 minutes later, the Prime Minister left the room.

  7. A stunning display of chutzpah, a complete absence of candour, and a disturbing lack of remorse that, IMO, are all symptoms of classic psychopatholgy.

    • All characteristics of a superb politician, unfortunately also characteristics of a lousy leader.

  8. I bet the prime minister is some pissed at the buffoon who appointed all these people.

  9. Harper’s Golden Shower. Rest assured, Canadians, that if he had the time, he would give you a personal shower in the privacy of your own home. But due to pressing engagements and the constraints of time, you’ll have to be pissed on… en masse. Mind your eyes, this may sting a little.

  10. Harper says he “can take a punch”, but the man is too cowardly to even climb into the ring and face reporter questions.

    Half baked helical trolls like FV rave on and on about the left wing media in Canada, but here we have a sitting PM using the authority of his office to force the delivery of a scripted message without the basic accountability of taking reporter questions. Say what you want about Obama, but he faces open questions from the press.

    Harper is a cut and run coward of the worst order.

    • Where IS ol’ FV these days, ayway? Haven’t seen a comment from her on any of this (or at least, not that I can recall).
      First Emily, now FV… it’s getting scary…

  11. Well done article and quite tweet worthy.

    And neuroticdog, you get points for the best comment I’ve read here. Succinct and spot on.
    “A stunning display of chutzpah, a complete absence of candour, and a disturbing lack of remorse that, IMO, are all symptoms of classic psychopathology.”

  12. As was sarcastically pointed out by Mr Wherry, it was what was not said that is the story. This was an act of unprecedented audacity intended solely to present quotes and “talking points” for the assembled messengers (on the CPC payroll or not) without addressing a single question raised about this sorry affair or the motivations that under pin it. I saw the new Star Trek movie this weekend and have just realised where Scotty got the idea for the technology behind the deflector shield.

  13. “And I know that like me and my family, you are scrupulous about paying expenses of a personal nature yourselves.”

    Says the PM who turned his parliamentary system first minister status into a full blown American style Presidential executive branch, with a newly painted Air Force One, convoys of ground transportation, , personal limos flown around the world to get there first, personal hairdresser, mobs of hangers on, massive PR office, isolation from the public and media, and on and on.

  14. That was a great speech, and exactly the right tone to strike.

    Funny, haven’t heard a single word from Trust Fund Trudeau about Liberal Senator Mac Harb’s fraud. Harper at least has the guts to stand up and condemn it. Junior must be too busy on summer holidays to have noticed. In over his head.

  15. “Our federal Accountability Act, the toughest accountability legislation in the history of this country, forever changed the way business is done in Ottawa.”

    Looks like Harper is trying his hand at stand-up…

  16. .” Our federal Accountability Act, the toughest accountability
    legislation in the history of this country, forever changed the way
    business is done in Ottawa.”

    LOL…i do enjoy a little hyperpole with my self irony. Glad t see the PM does too.

    Toughest,biggest, bestest in the history of this country eh. Not quite up to Brian’s standards…he wouldn’t have stopped at this country.

  17. Was this Harper’s…”I am not a crook”…moment? Kinda sounded like it to me. Only with a lot more self congratulatory hyperpole than tricky Dicky…same complete absence of self irony though.

  18. Yesterday, I emailed the following to my local Con MP.

    My Characteristic Kindness thought, ‘Well, he’s human, has lived here for awhile, has family, including a Mom and grandkids, and, despite his pension from the OPP, probably quite likes his current standard of living which includes regular trips to China. I’ll nudge his Better Self. So let’s see where this goes, not that I’m expecting miracles, but you never know.’

    The message reads as follows:

    **************************************************************************************************************
    `I would be very impressed if you were to stand up and be counted as a
    Member of the Conservative Party of Canada, and especially as my MP, who
    refuses to just look on in wonder and silence at the morass your Party
    is in regarding the above.

    I believe you are a person of conscience who wants to do the best for his constituents, aka the ones what brung you, and I expect you would like to sleep at nights. It is
    my hope you will display courage and refuse to continue to be part of
    the ongoing insult that the CPC majority has become.

    I look forward to seeing your decision in action.’
    ************************************************************************************************************

    (I didn’t mention that I hadn’t voted for him but that didn’t use to matter, so much – we were all constituents.)

    I’d be pleased if others did the same or similar. We can bleat en masse all we want but it’s the individual and personal act that matters. If you want your pollies to take responsibility, you apparently need to tell them so. It’s no longer automatic.

  19. Mike Duffy is sitting on a goldmine. Who needs a senator’s lousy 132k when he can retire and write a first person account that’ll net him gobs of cash. And cap off his reporting career with the scoop of a lifetime.

  20. Case closed! (Moves arms and hands in a vertical sweep, clappin’ as she goes!). Thank goodness this national distraction has been brought to a decisive and abrupt end.

    Sorry, ‘distraction’ is a piece of spinach you notice in the teeth of someone to whom you’re speaking. Committed partisan, J.P. Moneybags, papering over an audit of a sitting parliamentarian’s questionable expenses? Not so much.

    There never were saints in the PMO. Never will be.

  21. Judging by this account, Harper’s address to his caucus and the standing ovations the Dear Leader was given make it sound like this was really some event to behold, like those celebrations in North Korea. Do they provide vomit bags for the press at these events?

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to install new fuses in my Irony, Hypocrisy and Bullshit meters. Harper’s speech to his caucus was a tsunami.

    “But that said, let me repeat something else I said in that same speech
    in 2005 and let me be very blunt about it … Anyone, anyone, who wants to
    use public office for their own benefit should make other plans or,
    better yet, leave… this… room.”

    Harper left the room 10 minutes later. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Sign in to comment.