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How Mike Duffy is like Vic Toews

Lessons from the Duffy-Wallin-Brazeau sideshow


 

Chris Wattie/Reuters

Listening to Mike Duffy casually implicate Stephen Harper in the biggest scandal of the Prime Minister’s political career, my thoughts turned to Vic Toews.

Weird, right? What could the recently retired former justice minister possibly have to do with the current Gong Show-like spectacle that threatens to engulf the Prime Minister’s Office, at the very least?

Call it a mental twitch. Every time someone Conservative gets into trouble because of the mean-spirited shortsightedness of the party’s communications strategy—and Harper’s current predicament is very much a product of that—I think of the phrase Toews uttered on Feb. 13, 2012. On that day, the very day Mike Duffy says the Prime Minister gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse, a Liberal MP rose in Parliament and dared throw a bit of shade at Toews’s Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act. Toews response: “He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers.”

Suggesting a fellow MP sympathizes with the plight of child pornographers probably isn’t the worst thing a Conservative has hurled at the opposition. Why, there’s Rob Anders, just the other day suggesting the NDP wants to “inject [heroin] into the veins of Canada’s children.”

Yet as a cabinet minister (and not just some lowly backbencher) Toews’s bon mots epitomize how the Conservatives have operated over the years: mean, pithy, and with a highly selective appreciation of reality. Time and again, it’s the same formula: attack, batten the hatches till the next news cycle, repeat. As the Conservatives’ many years in power prove, demonizing one’s enemies to the point of caricature works like hell.

The Duffy-Wallin-Brazeau sideshow is an example of what happens when you use this caustic strategy against your own. Out of habit or hubris (or both), the Conservatives supported Duffy and Wallin up to the very moment where they became a liability—at which point they became, well, worse than your average NDP pinko.

Let’s assume that Duffy’s testimony was the product of a desperate man’s willingness to stretch the truth—that, in fact, Harper knew nothing of the arrangement between his former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, and Duffy. Even if this were the case, the length of time Duffy’s extravagances were tolerated is matched only by the speed at which he was tossed aside once they became an embarrassment.

Duffy was one of the Senate’s biggest spenders in the Senate, racking up close to $160,000 in expenses between June 2011 and May 2012. Yet he was allowed to continue because he was shilling for the Conservative brand. It was money well spent, after all, since his name alone was fundraising gold. He along with 17 other Tory senators even attended Senate “boot camp” to learn how best to navigate the chamber’s expense rules.

Last February, Harper deemed Wallin’s expenses “comparable to any parliamentarian” forced to schlep from Saskatchewan to Ottawa. Eight months later, the Conservatives want to expel her, along with Duffy and Brazeau. The insinuation is clear: these three formerly shining Conservative stars are guilty, guilty, guilty.

The results were before us this week. One after another, Duffy, Brazeau and Wallin righteously teed off on the Conservative party. It’s an astonishing feat, in a way. The Conservatives have managed to make enemies of their own appointees to the Senate, that plushy redoubt of backslapping patronage seemingly designed to reward blind loyalty. And though the overindulgences of Senate members are hardly partisan, the PMO’s petty and ham-fisted attempts at staying clean have branded this a Conservative scandal.

And Vic Toews? According to his logic, the child pornographers won. The Conservatives shelved his bill a few months after his outburst, while Toews himself resigned in July before he could be made victim of a cabinet shuffle. If he’s a cautionary tale, certainly no one on his side was paying attention.


 

How Mike Duffy is like Vic Toews

  1. If only the voters in the next election are able to connect these dots as well as M Patriquin, we may be well and truly rid of this sad chapter in Canadian history.

    • Waw, you line up quickly to buy into the creation of a new fake scandal.

      • Yeah, I guess the RCMP do a lot of investigation of ‘fake’ scandals. Conservatives only care about corruption with other parties, they encourage it within their own.

        • And the RCMP do a lot of fake investigations too, and those usually end in some RCMP scandal or other.

      • Francien see your doctor your medication is off or start taking it so you see reality again.

  2. I expect the Conservative Convention in Calgary next week will be followed much more closely than it would have been if it had been held as originally planned at the end of June. Everyone will be wondering if the pilot has finally realized it is time to bail out of the damaged aircraft. It would be better for the Conservative Party if Harper steps aside now, leaving plenty of time for a new leader to establish a new tone for the party before the next election.

    • Conservatives will never abandon Stephen Harper, ever. They want to see him trounce Trudeau in the next election.

      • But does that serve the taxpayers, citizens or consumers well by demonizing and divide and conquer. I want a leader who can bring a country together, not move it further apart.

      • They aren’t really stupid either [ not the majority] If cons were able to ditch Maggie when it became clear she was a liability, they can do it to Harper. Liability is not anywhere near being established…not yet anyway.

      • Nope. The Conservarepublicans are melting down faster than the wicked witch in the rain. Back into the puddles of dissent and divisivness formerly known as the Reform Party and the Progressive (irony unintentional, I’m sure) Conservatives. Eating your own tails, you snakes. Enjoy the feast. I am. LMAO watching this soap opera.

      • never happen

  3. Simply brilliant analogy by Patriquin to compare Toews to Duffy.

    Just like Toews reminded those Opposition MP`s that the consequences of scuttling a Bill meant to protect children, would be to aid child pornographers, so also the sudden sympathy that all us good liberals now feel for Duffy and Wallin reminds us that our principles and anger at perceived wrongdoing remain very flexible.
    You see, we would still be angry at Duffy and Wallin if Harper were still defending them, but since it has been decided that they should be suspended, then now we are suddenly worried about the pay cheques that these good Senators will be missing.

    Now, what would it take for us to use those flexible principles to suddenly begin defending Toews ? Maybe some visionaries here could start some rumours.

    • You mean the Liberals want a public hearing and the NDP want the whole senate axed. Nobody is defending what they did, some people would just prefer public accountability so the truth can be heard.

      The PM and the PMO would rather this get swept under the rug fast and forgotten about, rather than have any truly open accountability process.

      But keep swinging.

      • Does anybody else find it a bit strange that liberals are seen to be siding with Duffy because he is not receiving a proper hearing after he ripped off the taxpayer and then had to have the money paid back by a fellow Conservative.
        This is Mike Duffy, you know the guy that has been the butt of good liberal jokes for the past few years. Not Mother Teresa.

        I know the tendency is to compare this to Sponsorship but really 90 thousand bucks from one individual that was paid back probably should not be compared to millions of dollars used to finance several election campaigns and then was not paid back.

        • Are you new here at Macleans? Standard practice here to use whichever politician as long as the Liberals gain. You should start reading what some of Aaron Wherry’s fans post as comments when Wherry stands on his soapbox, day in, day out!

          You will have a lot of fun reading the rubbish over there too.

          • @ Francien Verhoeven I am new here, but it did not take more than a few minutes to see that your posts (more than any others) reflect strident Conservative bias, without any thougfht fior the facts and without admitting that Conservatives are (often) less than perfect, I also noticed that, like Mr. Toews, you seem to think that attacking anyone who disagrees with you is within the decencies of debate. It isn’t.
            On the subject of the article, I clearly remember the Prime Minister standing up in the House and declaring that he had looked at Senator Wallin’s expenses, and that they were not out of line. Do you remember that? How then can we explain the PM’s U turn on this issue? It strikes me that (although I have no sympathy at all for Senator Wallin) if the Prime Minister of Canada can, in Frebruary, declare he had seen the facts and that the expenses were in bound, the senator may be right that she is being used as a political scapegoat when that same Prime Minister, in October, says that the same expenses claims were so egregious that she should be suspended from the senate.

        • Duh! that’s politics Oddly enough it’s what politicians and partisans do all the time. The fact that nobody is actually defending him[ except his mostly con friends – that’s called loyalty by the way. Another good thing] but demanding liberal principles of due process and respect for the law apply here too; in addition to a little schadenfreude over Harper’s predicament, seems a little beyond you for some reason i cannot seem to fathom.
          Humans are rather complex. Many of them can handle more then one motive at a time, some of them can even walk and chew gum simultaneously.

        • “Seem to be” is the key here. It marks the point where you diverge from reality.

        • Not defending Duffy; defending the concept of due process. But then the right in this country seems to have a hard time with that concept…

        • “Economic Action Plan” advertising dollars is an adscam worth even more. When taxpayers find out how much of their money has been wasted on this Conservative Party advertising campaign, they will undoubtedly be tossed out on their keystones.

    • Guess those “Conservative” senators that are now defending them have flexible principles to huh! Yeesh. This post is worthy of the master himself – Toews – it is so myopic and obtuse.

    • “so also the sudden sympathy that all us good liberals now feel for Duffy and Wallin”

      You’d be the first that I’m aware of.

    • Something about the enemy of my enemy being my friend? Sort of, but not exactly. There are probably a few people out there who can heartily enjoy the spectacle of Mike Duffy doling out a little bit of bad medicine, without having to believe for even a second that he doesn’t deserve to be in the particular spot he’s in.

    • Those of us who aren’t guzzling the CPC koolaid recognize this for what it is – another desperate attempt to sweep the whole thing under the carpet. It makes us more suspicious – not less – about Harper’s real degree of involvement … and wondering why the Party is so desperately trying to hide the truth.

  4. I don’t agree with the “with us or with the child pornographers” line, its actually pretty low-end but this exact same tactic is constantly used by the left and media to demonize anyone who questions the received “wisdom” of “progressive” policies.

    • Care to cite an example of a former cabinet minister using this tactic at an equivalent level? Hardly comparable to what is said on the hustings in the thick of battle or in the watches of the night is it?
      Myself i can think of only one that comes close – when Elinor Caplan i think it was, pretty much accused the whole of the reform party of being homophobes or racist – i forget which. And she was hardly of the left. Nor was that particular iteration of the LPC.

      • And at the same time, there’s a large contingent in the reform party that DID have those views.

        The number of Liberal MPs who actually support child pornographers is zero.

        • Good point. However you do have to separate out those who held those views from those with genuine religious convictions – which is allowed, and ignorance or bigotry – which shouldn’t be.
          Caplan’s approach, as i now vaguely recall didn’t even attempt that.
          Sadly far too many pols, or at least the pimply brats in short pants in the PMO, only care if it works. Caplan’s did, Toewes’, not so much. Is there any doubt they would have run with the VT’s line if it had more upside?

    • I want to hear about the ‘progressive’ policies you are talking about because there is a huge difference between truth and belief.

  5. ‘He along with 17 other Tory senators even attended Senate “boot camp” to learn how best to navigate the chamber’s expense rules.’

    Perhaps we’d best check the 17 others!

    • This comment was deleted.

      • When will the Conservatives be removing Del Mastro from parliament?

      • With this post Francien’s putting on the cloak of his own hero – the snarling, mocking, execrable John Baird.

      • He was Harper’s hero at one time. Running all over the country, at our expense, campaigning for him!

  6. Vic Toews, is gone his name should be banned from use in public discourse, come on Maclean’s let’s set a standard here for modern journalism, and no one should ever be accused of reminding anyone ever of Vic.

    • Mac Harb is gone, too. Lucky for you, eh!

    • Not sure which of the two – Toews or Duffy – should feel the most insulted by the comparison.

  7. From the headline, i was worried Mr. Duffy had made things even worse on himself by impregnating a teenage babysitter.

    • I was worried he had impregnated Vic Toews.

      • This comment was deleted.

        • Why yes, yes she is.

  8. “Listening to Mike Duffy casually implicate Stephen Harper in the
    biggest scandal of the Prime Minister’s political career, my thoughts
    turned to Vic Toews.
    Weird, right?”

    No, what is weird is that you are now trying to fabricate yet another fake scandal!

    You people in the media get so upset when you can’t win with fake scandals and so you go looking for new fake scandals in the hopes that eventually the people will buy into your schemes!

    Is that what they taught you in journalism school, how to keep creating false scandals?

    • You can always be relied upon to deflect, deny, obfuscate and ignore reality. Life must be blissful for you.

      • What am I denying? What am I trying to obfuscate? What am I trying to ignore?

        You have nothing. Absolutely nothing!

        • “You have nothing. Absolutely nothing!”

          Irony can never sound sweeter or more cutting then when it’s spoken out of the mouth of a witless fool.

          • Oh, kcm2, you know as well as I do that irony is in the eyes of the beholder: the idiot spewing it is totally unable to see it. It takes brains and thought to see irony, and, as you say, witless fools to spew it out.

          • “…you know as well as I do that irony is in the eyes of the beholder:”

            Yeah, maybe i should keep my eyes closed a bit more often…that smarts a bit after a while.

        • $90,000 worth of nothing!

        • So, Francien – what do you think of Harper finally admitting yesterday that he has been lying about the number of people in the PMO who were privy to the cheque-cutting plan? Do you approve of SH’s deliberately misleading the HoC – and the nation – in that way?

          • Franny doesn’t answer questions she only demands answers to questions she receives through her tin foil hat.

      • Franny, the poor thing, is an attention hound and like any bad child any kind of attention is good.

  9. This comment was deleted.

    • Hey Franny, I see you collect down arrows by the bushel where ever you go. The bottom must have fallen out of the bee ess market. 42 down and 1 up here, your daily tally today of a 104+ down arrows and 4 up over at National Post seems secure.

  10. “Duffy was one of the Senate’s biggest spenders in the Senate, racking up
    close to $160,000 in expenses between June 2011 and May 2012. Yet he
    was allowed to continue because he was shilling for the Conservative
    brand. It was money well spent, after all, since his name alone was
    fundraising gold”

    This looks ugly whether you’re up close or pull back and squint at it from a 360 degree angle like this. Regardless of what Harper knew and when or how much, the fact remains he was fine with all this when it suited his purposes. Now it isn’t, His attempt to don the cape of Mr integrity now – ‘Out with these scoundrels i say! Out with the ungrateful fu***ers!” is as vomit inducing as anything the senators are up to, to say the least.

    It’s like watching an endless rerun of all the worst episodes of survivor. Any time i watched that show for more then 10 minutes i felt an overwhelming desire to see a tidal wave loom up behind the lot of them.

  11. Great article, Mr. Patriquin- accurate summary of the threats to our democracy by harper.

  12. Duffy was one of the Senate’s biggest spenders in the Senate, racking up close to $160,000 in expenses between June 2011 and May 2012. Yet he was allowed to continue because he was shilling for the Conservative brand. It was money well spent, after all, since his name alone was fundraising gold. He along with 17 other Tory senators even attended Senate “boot camp” to learn how best to navigate the chamber’s expense rules.

    Last February, Harper deemed Wallin’s expenses “comparable to any parliamentarian” forced to schlep from Saskatchewan to Ottawa. Eight months later, the Conservatives want to expel her…

    THIS is why Duffy and Wallin are so mad. All those expenses they submitted were being submitted the way they were TOLD to submit them. They were ENCOURAGED to submit travel expenses to the Senate for fundraising events. Their Party held a “boot camp” to explain to them just how to do this. They were assured that the were eligible to represent the provinces they were appointed to represent (after all, the PM wouldn’t appoint people who weren’t eligible, would he?) and that they were therefore entitled to housing expenses just like any non-Ontarian Senators. Then, when they submitted the expenses, the expenses were all approved by the Senate and they got their money back.

    They might have been able to stomach Harper and LeBreton telling them to give back the claims once the independent audit held that the claims were inappropriate. They could have swallowed their anger at Deloitte, given that Deloitte’s investigation was independent of the Tories, and came after the fact. However, the notion that the people in their own caucus who told them to do their expenses this way are now trying to suspend them from the Senate for doing their expenses this way must drive them bonkers. Don’t get me wrong, they should have known that these expense claims were shady from the start, but what’s really got them hoping mad is that the people attacking them now include the people who taught them how to make those claims.

  13. In all fairness to Duffy, he is not a pedophile……………

  14. Am I disappointed. I was thinking maybe Duffy shared Toews predilection for young babysitters. The very thought had my stomach heaving.

    • Take a Gravol.

  15. Take a pill Marty – so irrelevant at McLeans and more so on P&P, even your colleagues ignore you. This dumb article shows why. Just wanting to get a cheap shot in like the rest of the herd , while serious issues are being discussed. Write some thing meaningful will you? Particularly about Quebec issues. Add something to the conversation for gawd’s sake.

  16. Duffy is a bit like Toews but more like a huge talking ball of dough.

  17. Harper rose from his seat. “Mr. Speaker, you can stand with us or the honest hard working taxpaying people.”

  18. It’s nice to see that Vic Toews’ legacy remains tarnished. An opportunist, a liar, a hypocrite, a thug. Thank goodness he retired.

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