Wednesday, November 06, 2013

That Was A Tactical Error

Senators were allowed to vote separately with these results: 
  • On the motion to suspend Brazeau without pay, 50 yeas, 29 nays, 13 abstentions.
  • On the motion to suspend Duffy without pay, 52 yeas, 28 nays, 11 abstentions.
  • On the motion to suspend Wallin without pay, 52 yeas, 27 nays, 12 abstentions.
The suspensions are to last for the remainder of the session, likely until the next federal election in 2015.  
Looking at the vote, I'd say this is pretty much a "whipped vote" on the Conservative part.  Except for a handful of the most senior CPC caucus who are more confident in their posts than Harper's minions, the CPC caucus voted quite firmly to Harper's wishes.

This is a tactical error on Harper's part.  From his point of view, suspending these Senators is a way to bury a political issue.  Harper doesn't like being grilled in Question Period about it and the constant media scrutiny on Parliament, so he has opted for what he thinks will be the easiest way to bury this.

However, Harper has just made his problem worse.  No, he won't be seeing the media circus that happens every time Duffy, Wallin or Brazeau show up on the hill.  But, he's lost the control over the narrative that is implicit with allowing them to continue to sit in the upper chamber.  Parliamentary privilege and the structure of parliamentary process can be used as far more effective 'gag order' on the errant Senators than ejecting them from the house will ever be.

Both Senators Wallin and Duffy are experienced media personalities.  They are used to being in the public eye.  By ejecting them from the Senate, Harper has just given both of them the time and opportunity to work their stories unfettered by their responsibilities as Senators.

Duffy has already shown that he has rather a lot of material in his hip pocket.  Material which he is willing to release at moments which are going to have maximum public impact.  I can't say the same for Wallin or Brazeau on these matters - neither of them has given the kind of speeches in the Senate that Duffy has - only time will tell for them.

With Duffy's latest bombshells in Senate speeches, if the RCMP isn't knocking on the PMO's doors today, they will be soon enough.

If Harper thinks that ejecting a few errant Senators has "ended" this scandal, he's profoundly mistaken.  At the moment, he looks more like Wile E. Coyote with explosives.

As Rob Ford found out this week, you can only get away with denial and lying about things for so long.  Harper's story has been changing on a near daily basis with respect to the Senate.  If he believes that this is "just going away" because he bludgeoned his appointed Senators into ejecting a handful who have become political liabilities, then more the fool he is.

1 comment:

Halle said...

One can only wonder how long it will take for Harper to make his exit, a la Dalton McGuinty, to allow his beleaguered party time to find someone to take the hit in 2015.
Refreshingly, former Conservative prime minister Joe Clark has a new book out, giving hope that it might be possible for Canada to regain some respect on the world stage.
This is certainly (one can hope) the bottom in that regard with Ford and Harper both working hard, seemingly believing that all publicity is good.