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What does the Wright-Duffy affair tell us about Parliament?

When the PMO edited a Senate committee report


 

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

As reported last week, the Senate’s internal economy committee has recalled Deloitte’s auditors to discuss their audit of Mike Duffy, this after the RCMP alleged “efforts to withdraw Senator Duffy from the Deloitte audit.” It’s not clear yet whether that meeting with auditors will be conducted in public.

Machinations around the Senate review of Mr. Duffy’s expenses are detailed throughout the RCMP’s filing. At pages 26 and 27, the Senate rules committee and a review of the residency requirements for Senators are discussed, including evidence of a memo sent to the Prime Minister about that particular matter. Elsewhere are references to the internal economy committee’s review of Mr. Duffy’s expenses and the writing of the committee’s report on same. In his conclusions, Cpl. Horton alleges as follows.

While Deloitte did not find wrongdoing on Senator Duffy’s part, the initial draft Senate Report summarizing the findings of Deloitte and the Senate sub-committee was critical of Senator Duffy. Such criticisms by a committee containing a Conservative majority went against the media lines and conditions already agreed upon by the PMO and Senator Duffy. The PMO in turn set out to have the Senate report changed to reflect how they wanted it to appear. The PMO changes to the report were given the Senator Stewart Olsen, who brought them forward. She and Senator Tkachuk, being the committee majority, imposed their will and the will of the PMO on the Senate report.

Here, on that note, is an exchange from Question Period in May.

Thomas Mulcair. Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister keeps referring us back to the whitewashed report of the Senate. Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen is his former press secretary. Did he or did he not ever have any conversations with his former press secretary, Carolyn Stewart Olsen, concerning this affair in the Senate?

Stephen Harper. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, no, I did not, but it is very clear the Senate committee itself has answered those questions. It is the author of its own report. That report mirrors the recommendations of an independent audit conducted on behalf of the Senate; and the government, as a matter of fact, agrees with the recommendations in those reports, which are that the expenses in question are inappropriate and amounts such as that must be repaid to the taxpayers of Canada.

And here is an exchange from two weeks ago.

Thomas Mulcair. Mr. Speaker, who in the PMO was in contact with Senator David Tkachuk or Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen to whitewash the Mike Duffy report? Tkachuk confirmed that he had conversations with the PMO. Who was it with? It was the Prime Minister. He knows it. He can tell us and he has to tell Canadians.

Stephen Harper. Mr. Speaker, once again, as the senator said, the Senate and the Senate committee take responsibility for their own reports. Once again, we find the leader of the NDP trying to cast the net wide, trying to accuse people, who have been accused of nothing, of doing something wrong. In this case, Senator Tkachuk has been clear that the Senate obviously got advice from all kinds of sources, but in the end that committee made its own decisions and its own recommendations.

Those weren’t the only questions raised about the writing of the Senate committee’s report—see here, here, hereherehere and here.

During Question Period on Friday morning, Paul Calandra, the Prime Minister’s parliamentary secretary, offered the following explanation.

With respect to reports, I think all members of Parliament, on both sides of the House, are routinely given advice by different people. I note even in committee, when we are reviewing reports, political staff sit behind all of us but, ultimately, it is up to the members of Parliament, it is up to those who are elevated to the Senate, to make the decisions and to stand by the decisions they make. That happens every single day in this place, and I suspect it should happen in the Senate, as well.

At least one Conservative senator suggests this episode should be cause for reflection and another Conservative senator seems pleased that Christopher Montgomery, an official in the office of Marjory LeBreton at the time, asserted the Senate’s independence when the PMO allegedly moved to impose its changes on the Senate report.

After QP on Thursday, Brent Rathgeber—who has some history in this regard—dared suggest that this was more evidence of a lack of distinction between the executive and legislative branches of our government.

This is probably worth a moment or two of reflection.

The Prime Minister has asserted that the Senate is an “independent body” and that, as cited above, the Senate committee has responsibility for its own reports. Those statements were made before this week’s filing from the RCMP, but the suggestion thus could be that whatever his staff was requesting of Conservative Senators, it is still the Conservative Senators who are ultimately responsible for either accepting or refusing those requests. There would be a certain logic to this, but you might also understand why Mr. Montgomery objected. What would have happened if Carolyn Stewart Olsen had refused?

In an email on February 15, Mr. Wright writes that, “If the Rules and Procedures committee doesn’t have the right membership, then the Senate by motion should constitute a special committee that will have the right Senators on board.” What did he mean by “right Senators?” And what power did he have in these matters?

In a memo to the Prime Minister in March, Mr. Harper’s senior staff lamented for the lack of control exerted by the PMO over the affairs of the Senate. To wit.

As the Senate expense issues broke and intensified, your office has increased its interaction with Senators as we try to manage the issues. What we have discovered is that the lines of communication and levers that are available to us on the House side, simply are not in place not he Senate side. It was quickly apparent that Senator LeBreton’s office had little influence over what other Senators did and said, and limited reach into the Senate caucus generally. Accordingly, we engaged directly with Chairs and certain Conservative members of the relevant committee and subcommittees, while trying to keep the Senate Leader’s office informed concurrently. These relationships with other Senators have enabled us to avert some additional problems.

What we see is a laissez-faire system that requires constant direction, supervision, and follow-up from your office to ensure that Government messaging and direction are followed. This problem is not limited to expense and residency issues; there are Senate committee reports that call on the government to lower airport rents, create a national pharmacare-plan, invest heavily in Aboriginal education, and review our tariffs as a way of dealing with the gap in retail prices between Canada and the U.S. We speak with Senators who do not receive talking points or communications advice and who are seldom, if ever, guided on messaging. In managing the Senate’s response to Ann Cools’ privilege motion relating to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, we found that individual Conservative Senators had, or were preparing to, speak to the issue without any advance coordination and without thought to the impact on the Government’s litigation with the PBO. The Senate Leader’s office did work with us to establish the formal Government response to the issue, but did not consider any measures to manage other interventions by Conservative Senators until directed by us to do so. These issues are exacerbated by Senator LeBreton’s repeated approach of reaching agreements with Liberal leadership before coming to your office or her Senate colleagues for consultation. Consistently, Senator LeBreton does not embrace the work of your office to bring communication and direction with the Senate closer to the model that we have with the House Leader and Chief Government Whip.

In his interview with the CBC this weekend, Jason MacDonald, the Prime Minister’s director of communications, was asked whether the Prime Minister’s Office defended “what some are calling a whitewash or the influence of what should be an independent body by the Prime Minister’s Office.” Here was Mr. MacDonald’s response.

“I think there are a couple of points that are important to make. The first is, and I’m sure you’ve seen, Deloitte was asked about the integrity of the audit and they assured everybody that they have measures in place to protect the integrity of the work that they do and that they’re satisfied that the work that they have done has the integrity that’s required of them. In terms of the relationship between PMO and senators, it is not uncommon for—senators are caucus members and they, like any other caucus member, an MP, will work with the Prime Minister’s Office on, whether it’s communications, whether it’s parliamentary issues, and, in fact, we actually saw evidence of that when you looked at Mr. Trudeau who required his senators to vote a certain way on an issue.”

In these circumstances, this seems like a bad answer.

(Mr. Trudeau recommended that Liberal senators abstain from voting on the motions to suspend Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau, but the motions were free votes and most Liberal senators voted nay.)

Mr. MacDonald has, conversely, been clear that Mr. Harper would not have approved of Senator Irving Gerstein contacting Deloitte about its audit of Mr. Duffy. So are we to assume that the editing of Senate committee reports by the PMO is a perfectly normal practice, or at least not so far outside accepted norms of executive-legislative relations that it should be considered worrisome?

Accounts vary as to how much influence the PMO exerts, or is able to exert, over the affairs of parliamentary committees, but we’re now up to three questionable events of note in the past year: the handling of Mr. Rathgeber’s private member’s bill, the handling of Mark Warawa’s motion on “gendercide” and the editing of the Senate committee’s report on Mr. Duffy. The precise facts of the first two have not been definitively ascertained—in the case of C-461, Mr. Rathgeber has ventured that the changes to his bill were imposed by the PMO, while the Conservative MP who moved the amendments told me he was not ordered to do so. It’s possible that in the case of Mr. Rathgeber’s bill or Mr. Warawa’s motion, the reality is more nuanced than a straightforward case of PMO dictation—in fact, “PMO control” as a general idea could be overstated or too wildly imagined. But the relative independence of parliamentary committees isn’t quite a new topic either—Samara raised concerns in a report two years ago. And the general independence of parliamentarians and power of party leaders is a longstanding and going concern (highlighted this year by the government side’s apparent blocking of Mr. Warawa from making a statement in the House about his motion).

But let us put the onus on MPs and Senators. How often are they accepting requests of the PMO or their respective leaders’ offices as to how committee business should be handled? How willingly do our parliamentarians accede to any requests of their leaders’ offices? More importantly, what sort of requests are they acceding to? And how much freedom of thought and deed should we expect them to employ? We can’t probably have a party system in which every MP and senator is an entirely independent actor, but how much of the legislature’s business is now run out of the offices of the party leaders, managed by unelected and unaccountable staff?

Should we be moving toward serious committee reform? Perhaps not simply having the House elect committee chairs, as Conservative MP Brad Trost has proposed, but also taking the power to choose committee members away from the party leadership?

At best, Parliament and parliamentarians probably now have an image problem—saddled with a perception, perhaps even an unfair perception, that MPs are at the beck and call of party leaders and the young men in suits who surround those leaders. Even if, in the best case, the amending of Mr. Rathgeber’s bill and the defeat of Mr. Warawa’s motion were perfectly defensible (I think at least the latter is almost definitely not), this is probably still the conversation to have now.

Of this particular matter, of course, it is not quite merely that a committee report was written according to the wishes of the PMO, it is also that those changes were allegedly compelled by a deal between Mr. Duffy and the PMO.

Robert Walsh, the former parliamentary law clerk, suggested on Friday that the machinations between Mr. Duffy, the PMO and others might not rise to the level of criminality, that this might merely be a matter of politics and Parliament. But even if this affair does not amount to charges or a conviction, it still exposes an episode in the inner workings of our Parliament—perhaps a particularly egregious episode, but one that might raise real concerns about how things actually work.

Update, Aug. 18: The following memo was released as evidence in Mike Duffy’s trial.

Memo to PM From Nigel Wright


 

What does the Wright-Duffy affair tell us about Parliament?

  1. “What does the Wright-Duffy affair tell us about Parliament?”

    Dishonesty and Selection Into Public Service:
    In this paper, we demonstrate that university students who cheat on a simple task in a laboratory setting are more likely to state a preference for entering public service.

    http://www.nber.org/papers/w19649

    • Awesome…you’ve graduated from posting marginally applicable quotes to citing articles of tangential relevance from other political cultures.

      • george orwell – the essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection

        • neuroticdog – a quote is only useful if it serves to illuminate the situation into which it is inserted.

  2. “What we have discovered is that the lines of communication and levers that are available to us on the House side, simply are not in place [on the] Senate side.” That’s the way it’s supposed to be! How else could the Senate carry out its functions: sober 2nd thought, representing regions …

    IMHO the biggest issue in this sordid scandal is the amount of control that the PMO exerts over the Senate. But then given how they’ve dealt with other independent bodies, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

    • Except that the PMO doesn’t have any control over the Senate, as Nigel Wright lamented in your quote. Just because the senate chooses to do what the PMO suggests, doesn’t mean the PMO is controlling them.

      • Except when it comes to buying the silence of a sitting Senator and getting Senators to amend a report. Oh and of course appointing Senators, let’s not forget that. But otherwise you are quite correct.

      • So you really don’t think that Harper has anything to do with removing Duffy?

      • The “the PMO doesn’t have any control over the Senate” line is good, I’d run with that, however, I’d abandon the “just because the senate chooses to do what the PMO suggests…” bit.

        I’d avoid any suggestion whatsoever that the leadership in the Senate was ever doing anything that had ever been suggested to them by the PMO. That narrative is going to make it a lot harder for the PM to throw Olsen and Gerstein under the same bus as he tossed Wright when that time inevitably comes. Ideally, I’d try to establish the notion in the public’s consciousness that PM Harper had never even MET a Senator until last week.

        The PM has done a good job of retroactively creating distance between himself and his formerly “honourable” Chief of Staff who (formerly) did the right thing for taxpayers and who’s resignation the PM (formerly reluctantly) accepted (sorry, I meant to say “and whom he fired”). If I were in the PMO, I’d start setting up the “Gerstein and Olsen were also lone wolves operating without the PM’s knowledge, and he fired them (or as close as you can get with a Senator) as soon as he realized what was going on. That narrative will sell much better if it’s established beforehand, and will help the PM avoid the suggestion that he did X at the time, but then got in to a time machine and went back in time in order to retroactively have done Y.

  3. The Wright-Duffy affair tells us the following:
    1. Senator Duffy was caught padding his expense account

    2. When Harper found out, he ordered Duffy to pay back the money.
    3. Duffy didn’t have the money.
    4. Nigel Wright covered the expenses to make the problem “go away” and he didn’t tell harper what he did.
    5. Harper found out Wright paid this out of pocket, and fired him.
    6. The media in Canada can take this obvious turn of events, and turn it into a running scandal for 9 months, without ever reporting on actual scandals such as Liberal Senator Mac Harb engaged in serious fraud, Liberal MP Judy Sgro engaged in serious fruad to the tune of almost two hundred thousand. Liberal Senator Colin KEnny can chase his female staffers around like a leach, and get 10 seconds of coverage on the CBC.
    To sum:
    If a Conservative Staffer pays back ill-gotten gains of a Conservative Senator from PEI from his own pocket – Fraud on par with the Sponsorship Scandal. (The CBC actually asked this question)
    If you’re a Liberal Senator with a penchant for sexually harassing or abusing your female staffers – no big deal according to the Canadian media.
    If you’re a Liberal senator engaged in multi-year fraud worth hundreds of thousands of dollars…..you get a 14 second mention on the news for one day.
    If yo’ure a Liberal MP engaged in fraud on a massive scale such as Judy Sgro…..no biggie….you’re a Liberal. You get a do over.
    Aaron, you are asking the wrong question. It should be,
    “What does the Wright-Duffy Affair tell us about the Canadian Media?”
    that answer is pretty clear.
    Given the byelection results, I”d say the media is doing exactly what is expected of them. Carrying water for the Liberal Party. The conservative vote was down, which simply means the media will continue to hammer away at perceived scandals of Conservatives, and ignore REAL scandals by Liberals. I’m sure the media will double their efforts the closer we get to the next Federal Election.
    congrats Aaron….you remain predictable.

    • Your diatribe above shows why abortion should remain legal, safe and a woman’s choice. It boggles my mind that people like you would value your political affiliation than the the good of the Country. Shame.

      • WTF did that post have to do with abortion? Can you please explain?

      • And your post clearly shows that your reading comprehension is sorely lacking.
        For the record, I’m pro-choice.

        • I love the 17 thumbs-up, and zero thumbs down, that “truthcop” got for raving at you for having a position on abortion that you don’t have, in response to a post you made that has nothing whatsoever to do with abortion. Tells you a lot about the regular thumbers on this site.

          • It’s par for the course for many “Harper haters”……their views are based on perception, not reality.
            No biggie…and no surprises.

          • Cons thrive on miss-perception, not reality. Hence the muzzling of scientists, taxpayer funded propaganda ads in support of foreign oil barons in the Communist Party of China and secret UN-debatable omnibus bills.

        • Think you missed the point. As I read it, truthcop is saying your mother should have made a different choice. Hope I’m wrong, but if I’m right – not an appropriate comment.

          • I see what you mean now. So instead, the poster was saying James H ought to be dead. This seems to be recurring theme among progressive posters around here these days, i.e., wishing death on their opponents. After all, that’s what progressivism is all about — elevating the tone and civility of democratic discourse and debate. Perhaps they learned it from the original Iranian revolutionaries, with that “Death to America” stuff.

          • There seem to be a couple following that line of thought, yes. And I definitely don’t approve. But as I’ve seen similar posts from CPC supporters in the past, that kind of stupidity crosses political boundaries.

          • I’m sure it does.

          • We need to remember, those on the left truly do believe they are superior in every way. It is this mistaken belief, which allows them to hold such views. They view anything “Conservative” as truly evil, or malevalent (sp?) which allows for them to put aside basic human decency and say such things.
            In their minds, the end justifies the means, which is how they can hold their divergent views. Being Liberals (of lefties) they think lying, deception, and just outright falsehoods about their opponents is justifiable as having someone of a different view in power is just plain wrong.
            They truly believe this, and no amount of debate will change their minds. No facts which dispute their beliefs will find a foothold in their closed minded view of the world. That’s how Liberals and lefties can hold on to their idea that man-made global warming is a real threat even though 100% of climate models have been proven wrong. That how we end up with the Green Energy Act which cost over 300,000 manufacturing jobs for people of Ontario. The Liberals didn’t listen to their opponents who told them what would happen….because they would prefer ideology over reality.
            “The end justifies the means” is their mantra, and nothing you or I say to them will change their minds. All we can do is continue to point out how wrong they are, and hope those who have not yet made up their minds learn something.

          • That’s exactly what truthcop meant……but comments such as those, from folks like that…..don’t bother me in the slightest.
            My skin is pretty thick, though not as thick apparently, as some Liberal supporters’ heads.

    • it’s just not plausible to suggest that “3. Duffy didn’t have the money.”

      He owns two properties and has a six figure salary. Presumably his housing claims were used to pay for at least one of them. He could easily arrange a second mortgage based on the equity he purchased with our money.

      The actual issue is that he didn’t want to pay, and the likely reason is that he was given assurances on appointment from the highest levels of the PMO that it was fine to use his position to raise funds for the Conservatives and put it on the Senate tab.

      • It was stated that Duffy owned his Ottawa home “mortgage-free”. When he said he didn’t have the money, what he meant was that he was unwilling to spend it.

    • I see the talking points are out.
      Three different posters trying to elevate events either under investigation or totally unconnected to Trudeau’s office to organised corruption and an attempt to buy the silence of a sitting Senator.
      So the new story is Harper fired Wright after declaring him honourable for so long and lauding him for resigning after making sure the tax payer was paid back. Next week watch it change back because when charges are laid Wright and Duffy will release more details.

    • And you learned all that in 10 minutes? Impressive.

    • I’ll see your 32 million adscam, raise you one 50 million gazebo caper and throw in a cool 3.1 billion “accounting issue”.

      Oh, and while we’re at it, how about appointing a commission to look into the PMO coverup, just like the one the Liberals appointed to investigate adscam.

      Your turn.

      • Awesome comment. Can I anti-up?
        I’ll raise you one Airbus scandal, Shawinigate…and…ooops, I seemed to have forgotten my token NDP scandal….probably only because we haven’t given them the chance at the federal trough as of yet. But no worries…it could/will happen.
        I love the Red team vs. Blue team vs. Orange team mentality that our political system (and punditry and “informed” electorate) have devolved into.
        Although I’m a little concerned because whatever team is on the field, the management is realizing that they can raise the ticket prices slowly over time, and their ‘devoted fans’ and obsequious play by play commentators (press for anyone who didn’t get the analogy) just keep paying more attention to who can be louder and more obnoxious during the tailgate party.
        We get the government we deserve.

        • What does anti-up mean?

        • TS,
          The NDP have never formed Government for a very simple reason; If the Liberals get into power, we all know that Millions of dollars will be stolen, but if the NDP gets into power, we all know that BILLIONS of dollars will be piss_ed away at useles programs.
          It’s a game of math.

          • Sorry, I’m still laughing about that time you described this current mess as an “obvious turn of events”.

            Don’t ever change, James.

          • Why would I change?
            That would make me wrong.

          • It would require you acknowledging that you were wrong, but I’m not sure that you can see the difference.

          • If I was wrong, I have no trouble acknowledging it. I am not wrong, therefore no admission is required.

    • Just to reiterate tobyornotoby’s comment, it’s simply not true that Duffy didn’t have the money. Duffy didn’t want to PAY the money, because he says he’d been told by the PMO, and Wright specifically, that he hadn’t done anything wrong, and so if he didn’t do anything wrong he didn’t feel that he should have to pay a cent back.

      Furthermore, not only did Duffy have access to the money, he actually took out a loan for the money. He says he did this at the instruction of the PMO, ostensibly to create a paper trail of a loan having been taken out in order to provide cover for the Wright cheque. He then used that loan to pay off his home renovation line of credit with RBC, in the hopes that everyone would ASSUME that the loan was used to pay back the Treasury, and that no one would check and see that he also paid off a personal line of credit of roughly the same amount at the exact same time.

  4. I happened to tune into Question Period today for 10 minutes and I don`t know if it was a typical day but if it was, Mulcair has a problem.
    He`s jumped the shark and became extremely annoying. The repetition, the fake court room style, the squawking around him, tells me that his 15 minutes in Parliament is up.
    Harper may have to prop him up before Justin moves past him.

    • You watched 10 minutes of QP and Tom Mulcair is the only member you found annoying?

      • In fairness, he probably wasn’t watching too closely for his own sake.

      • You`re right.
        I should have qualified it by saying ” most annoying “.

      • Ha !!
        perfect.

  5. So much for Wright being one of the good guys. He seems to be lamenting the fact he ,and by extension Harper and the pmo, don’t have enough control over the senate, and their senators in particular. The irony being, that he’s implying it is actually the second house, that dreadfully undemocratic House, and Conservatives at that, that is too independent altogether.
    The more this story unfolds the more true democrats ought to worry and demand change – and not necessarily starting with the senate either. Let’s abolish or limit the reach of that other wholly undemocratic House – the pmo.

    • The whole Saint Nigel meme has troubled me from the beginning. He was queried about his personal connections and interests when he was appointed and then blithely went on to hold more than one meeting with Barrick Resources which was trying to protect its mining interests in South America.

      http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/08/28/nigel-wright-faces-conflict-of-interest-questions-over-barrick-gold-links/.

      Maybe it’s technically legal, but it’s certainly ethically questionable to favour a personal connection with that kind of access.

  6. “What does the Wright-Duffy affair tell us about Parliament?”
    It told me that we have a Crime Minister whose pants are on fire.

  7. I have always assumed that the Senators, regardless of their political stripe, acted independently of the HoC. To not do so would be a violation of the spirit that was the raison d’etre for the Senate in the first place. To place themselves under the same “guidance” of the unelected PMO as a lowly backbencher in the HoC would be an abrogation of their responsibilities and make the Senate merely an extension of the HoC. They would, in essence, be digging the grave for the Senate, and IMHO, it would be entirely appropriate for the people to fill it in.
    Unfortunately, Canada needs a timely check on the excesses of ideological legislation that an ideologically-driven party in power can inflict on the very people they were sworn to serve. To remove the Senate from the scene would remove one of the last bastions of restraint. It is high time the entire concept of the Senate was reviewed and reformed.

    • I agree. The Senate should be kept, but Senators should be elected. We need a place to keep a check on Government; regardless of affiliation. Can you imagine the NDP with a majority (shudder)?
      We need to have some protection against the threat of Marxists in power.

      • Your conflation of NDP and Marxism suggest complete ignorance of both history and poltical theory.

        • Marxism and Socialism are two different ways to obtain the same results………….the only difference is that one bleeds you literally, the other figuratively.
          Ends up the same though. You lose your rights.

          • Kinda like conservatism and fascism.

          • This comment was deleted.

          • If “conservatism” is a licence to talk to people the way you and some others do on these boards, I don’t see much future in it. More flies with honey, eh, sweet cheeks?

          • The way I talk to people has nothing to do with my political leanings, but is more a response to what certain people post. The people who receive “mean” responses from me, are NOT the folks who I can attract with “honey” as they have already made up their minds and as mentioned above, no amount of debate will change it.
            For example, if Emily believed 2 + 2 = 5, there is no amount of debate that would change her mind. Facts mean nothing to certain individuals, so why debate them? If you can’t debate them……then just make a comment to deflate them. I really don’t care if I hurt anyone’s feelings, when they themselves completely disregard mine.

          • Here’s a tidbit from John Ralston Saul, Canada’s premier social philosopher/critic, excerpted from his 1995 CBC Massey Lecture series:

            “Now listen to the first three aims of the corporatist movement in Germany, Italy and France during the 1920s. These were developed by the people who went on to become part of the Fascist experience:
            (1) shift power directly to economic and social interest groups;
            (2) push entrepreneurial initiative in areas normally reserved for public bodies;
            (3) obliterate the boundaries between public and private interest — that is, challenge the idea of the public interest.
            This sounds like the official program of most contemporary Western governments.”
            ― John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization

            Sound familiar?

          • Sounds like the typical claptrap from John Ralston Saul and other far left kooks. Maybe you should try thinking for yourself for a change and come up with an idea of your own.
            Conservatism (modern) is about freedom of the individual, freedom of thought, freedom of markets. In fact, today’s conservative Party actually adheres to the Classical Liberal Philosphy.
            By the way…the best comment ever made about John Ralston Saul, was a quote describing Saul’s own hubris.
            “John Ralston saul, is the only man I know who can strut while sitting down”
            The man is just a peacock…..no real accomplishments other than being married to a former CBC / GG. And even she was highly over-rated.

          • I can fix yours. Here are 14 defining characteristics of fascism. Check off the ones possessed by the Harper Government of Canada. Hint; save your ink and check off the ones that don’t apply.
            http://rense.com/general37/char.htm

          • So you’re saying Canadians haven’t lost rights under our current democratic-capitalist subordination to the U.S. through the FTA and NAFTA?
            It seems every month another Canadian company, bought out by the U.S., shuts down and is moved to the American motherland. RE: The longstanding (American-owned) Heinz tomatoe plant in Leamington Ontario. Apparently it couldn’t afford its vast employment of Mexican and Caribbean foreign temporary workers.

          • This comment was deleted.

          • “Congats” is not a word or an abbriviation of one. You’ve also spelled my last name wrong. It appears you need a basic English language course (probably grade 3 level).
            Predictability is associated with consistency and reliability. The last 7 years under ‘the Harper government’ has been a roller coaster ride of Conservative coverup for incompetent leadership. One scandal is diverted only to have another issue of corruption surface. The cart, behind the horse, is supposed to transport effective policy not carry a full-time cleanup crew.

          • Apologies for the poor typing skills….but it doesn’t bolster your argument simpy by pointing it out.
            I must admit I am not an English Major, but my Accounting and Finance Majors are more in line with my profession. I would prefer to actually get a job, than to simply ensure the spelling is all correct.
            If you think what we have seen uder Harper is scandal and corruption, I can only assume you were out of the country for the last 10 years before he was elected. Harper and his Govm’t have made some screw ups, they they ARE NOT using their postions to line their pockets…..as that appears mainly to be a Liberal trait.

          • Almost forgot.
            heinz is leaving because after 10 years of Liberal Mismangement, it is no longer profitable to operate in the former breadbasket of Canada known as Ontario. When you double the costs to a company, they pick up and leave town. Ask the 300,000 manufacturing employees who are now out of work thanks to the Green Energy Act brought in by McGinty and Wynne.
            But hey….at least the schools are teaching the kids about anal and oral sex. That’s gotta count for something.

          • I’m no fan of the Liberals, remember? You bestowed me with the predictable social response award. That would make me an NDP supporter of which I’m an active member in my local riding.
            Gee, it’s tough to eke out maximum corporate profits even with a sustained payroll of immigrant seasonal labourers.

          • Well, I guess the NDP should have thought of the impact of seasonal workers before you started calling Conservatives anti-immigrant and bigots. It was so effective, they let in MORE immigrants than ever before just to prove you wrong. Live with the results of your own actions.
            As for maximizing corporate profits….that’s what companies are supposed to do. And it is easier to do that if your costs of doing business doesn’t double in the first three years of a New Liberal Government (provincial). In Ontario, you will still see more of this happening as long as Wynne and her crooks are in office. And Frankly, they are in office….because the NDP are keeping them there.
            You guys shot yourselves in the foot. Which is how Ontario lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs since the Libs have been running the place. Maybe you should submit a resume to a wind turbine company?

          • You mentioned somewhere about at least you have a job. I have a job too. You mentioned I must have been out of the country for 10 years not to realize the Liberals had been lining their pockets while in power. I was in South Korea for a couple of years and it gave me a first-hand appreciation of how S.K. is managed by the U.S.
            You talk about how it is the duty of companies to mazimize corporate profits. This is not a moral principle but rather a principle based on greed at the expense of minimum wage earners who have to work 60 hours a week to subsist.
            How many millions does a multi-millionnaire need?
            I agree with successful profit when it is made from an honest market and not off the backs of minimum wage earners who are laid off after 3 months to avoid allowing them job security and basic benefits.

          • KSmith,
            Corporation are not evil, but I admit some are run by very greedy, and shady characters. (Wall street meltdown should have seen hundreds of them go to jail..on that I agree with you)
            The majority of the profit raised by a corporation goes to shareholders in one form or another; either as dividends, or an increase in share value. Investors can sell their shares and profit from this increase.
            This is what the average Canadian is buying with the RRSP contributions, and the TFSA investments. I do agree that many CEO’s are grossly overpaid for what they do, but I also believe many actually earn what they get as they have seen huge increase in the value of company shares because they make the right decisions. I don’t begrudge the successful for being wealthy, but I do begrudge the wealthy who have attained that wealth through other means that may have hurt the ordinary joe.
            It’s a fine line. I think we are actually pretty close in or views that honest corporations deserve what they have, but those which are not honest need a shakeup.

          • @ James R. Halifax: We definitely come from opposite camps; you deplore NDP ideology, I deplore the Conservative mindset. Hopefully Canadians can at times glance outside pure party policy, and recognize moments that best benefit the country in the bigger picture.

          • Well, I guess you must have a huge problem with that Liberal Party of Canada, seeing as they failed to repeal FTA and NAFTA (even though they ran an entire federal election campaign on an explicit promise to get rid of FTA), endorsed them thoughout their most recent reign 24 Sussex, and endorse them to this day. Damn those capitalist toady Liberals!

          • Yes I do have a problem with the Liberal Party of Canada. They’ve shown themselves incompetent in ousting the corrupt government of Canada.
            Brian Mulroney brought in the Free Trade Agreement in 1994 with the opposition parties predicting it would make us the 51st state of America. Mulroney, in leaving office infamously in 1993, laid the groundwork for the implementation of NAFTA. Today Mulroney sits on several American lucrative committee boards and resides in the U.S.
            Harper wrote off George W Bush’s huge debt on soft lumber tarriffs in an instant after Bush had stubbornly fought the payment in U.S. courts for years.

          • Yes….Chretien and his Liberals kept both Free Trade and the GST. That is the only thing that allowed for paying down the debt…..oh, and stealing the polcies of the Reform Party helped them get their faster.

      • I don’t agree with your characterization of the NDP but you are right on in suggesting that people should think about this issue in terms of how they will feel when a party they strongly mistrust is in office. Will they want the PM and his Office controlling the whole parliament, both houses, so there is no check on the government at all? Will they want whatever check the Senate does provide eliminated? Will they want the opposition members they elected to hold the government accountable brushed off by an arrogant PM who says he sees no reason to pay any attention to people like them (Harper at Conservative Convention).

  8. There is absolutely nothing you can believe anymore about government. .

  9. human traffickers, drug rings, and international crime would not be able to prosper as much as it has in every canadian city without the aid of a very corrupt governance in civil and federal areas, as in syria, greece, so in canada, the world of criminals and dangerous for vulnerable humans is canada with a federal regime highly advertised as condoning criminal behaviour is it any wonder babies , women and old people are not surviving canada, where the govt is so bad the people are worse

  10. what does it tell us ? that the canadian government is a joke

  11. The federal political culture is ill….this is semantic overload when all is required is to hold people accountable, and close loopholes preventing transparency…it isnt that complex,yet this type of rhetoric suggests that it is, and may even make things too murky. It is a simple matter of ethics,not loophole exploitation. Harper is not a stand up guy, bottom line. Politics attracts shifty people,as it is a way to make aliving without having to be a straight shooter. yuck…

  12. …so, the PMO owns Deloitte?

  13. If the RCMP investigation into this states “While Deloitte did not find wrongdoing on Senator Duffy’s part,” how and why did the PMO’s office lead this whole affair down such a dark and dirty path. It would appear that someone decided to start an old fashion witch hunt. In todays age of “investigative reporting” how could the PMO’s office possibly have thought that their forcing changes to an audit would not be found out. Who holds the responsibility. Whoever you are, you should be leaping forward and screaming “it was me” because their is a lucrative talk show circuit and book in your future, unless of course you are so high up in the PMO’s office that you already have that in place (Mr. Harper)

  14. It tells me that the opposition cares more about manufactured scandals than the economy and well being of the people.

    • Are you saying the RCMP has manufactured a scandal against the PM by accusing his former most senior advisor and star Senate appointee of crimes based on actions their report suggests he approved in whole or in part?

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