Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Speaking Of Canaries In The Corruption ...

I cannot emphasize enough that the current corruption scandal running around the Senate is only the tip of the iceberg.

This morning, we find that CBC is reporting on a bunch of Harper appointees who are making donations to the Conservative Party.

Dozens of people appointed to plum patronage jobs have been donating to the Conservative party, despite government rules that forbid it.
A Canadian Press investigation found as many as one of every five chairpersons on the Employment Insurance Boards of Referees gave money to political parties, riding associations and election candidates while they served on the tribunal.
All but one of the dozens of donations went to Conservatives, Election Canada records show.
Once again, the crooks in question are busy denying that they know anything.

Donations made prior to chairpersons being named to the EI referees boards, or after their terms end, are allowed under government rules. A number of the boards' chairpersons made political donations before their appointments, with the lion's share going to Conservatives.
Eleven chairpersons confirmed making donations. Others did not return phone calls. One appointee refused to confirm or deny her donation.
There seemed to be confusion around the no-donation rule. None of the chairpersons seemed aware of any restrictions against donating, and some insisted they had every right to give money to a political party.
The government appointed John Buddy Wiens of Morden, Man., as a chairman of the EI referees board for the Winnipeg district in April 2008. Elections Canada records show Wiens made three donations — totalling $1,500 — to the Portage-Lisgar Conservative riding association in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
In a telephone interview, Wiens confirmed he made the donations, but said no one told him it was against the rules. He said he did not recall reading the section of the EI referees boards' handbook about political activities.
"No, I'm sorry. You got me," Wiens said. "I'm totally by surprise."
The standard excuse "I didn't know".  Perhaps in this case, it is a lack of education on the part of these people.  However, in the world of politics, this is still corrupt and represents a lack of appropriate cross checks in the CPC donation system.

... and in the continuing nonsense swirling around Mike Duffy, we have a tweet from rookie MP Joan Crockatt:

Apparently, resignations for being corrupt - and caught - represent some kind of ethical high bar for the Conservatives.  There are many problems with this, especially in light of the chronology of the Duffy affair:

  • It suggests that being corrupt in the Harper Government is fine, as long as you don't get caught.
  • Spin...pure spin.  Any politician who would dare claim that the public consequences of being caught with your hands in the public cookie jar represent some kind of ethical high bar is an idiot who is trying to bury the story.
  • Given the constantly changing story related to Duffy's expenses since January, and the attempts by the PMO to back Duffy up with political support, it implies that the current round of resignations are the result of being cornered, not a result of acting on this supposed ethical "high bar"
Coming from an MP who stated that she felt her job would be to "support the Prime Minister in whatever way he decides" during the by-election campaign, this doesn't come as a big surprise.  

However, it also speaks to the incredible blind spot that the Conservatives have with respect to what it means to govern ethically.  I'm not saying that you expect everything to be absolutely perfect, but rather that when corruption emerges, you act decisively to deal with it.  What we have seen has been talking points, spin and prevarication instead.  Decisive action has taken place only when the political impact is becoming so obvious that Harper cannot ignore it.

Remember, the Harper Government is the government which came to power on a platform of being more transparent and ethical in government than their predecessors.  Can Canadians really say that is what we have experienced?

[Update 1:]  CBC Synopsis Of Harper Speech To Caucus - I will review this in more detail later

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