- Plenty more commentators are taking a turn duly mocking the Cons' Senate shenanigans. Here's Tabatha Southey:
In fact, Mr. Duffy lives and votes in Kanata, a suburb of Ottawa, in a home he purchased five years before he was appointed to the Senate in 2008. He has a modest, seasonal cottage in Cavendish, PEI, which is reportedly seldom used.And Scott Feschuk:
There are signs there may be a number of these houses across the country – dark, lifeless, spooky places children rush by after sundown because some people say those houses have senators. Conservative Senator Pamela Wallin, now-independent Senator Patrick Brazeau and Liberal Senator Mac Harb are also being investigated for questionable secondary-residence expenses.
Marjory LeBreton, government leader in the Senate, said this that week the mere signing of a declaration of qualification form claiming to be from the Island qualifies one for the Senate. Apparently there’s an “if I clap my hands, I am actually Tinkerbell” clause in there somewhere, officially making being a senator the best job in the world.
1. Belittle. When reporters suggested Duffy was inappropriately pocketing up to $22,000 a year in living expenses (he claimed his primary residence is in P.E.I., even though he’s lived near Ottawa for decades), the senator’s response was to mock them. Do some “adult work,” he said. When that didn’t end the scrutiny, he told one journalist: “It’s none of your business.” This is a great way to win over taxpayers, who love it when a partisan crony—appointed by fiat to a cushy job with a great pension—explains that what he does with their money is none of their concern.And finally Thomas Walkom:
4. Deflect. For weeks, Duffy told reporters there’s no story here. He urged them to instead focus on “real issues” like energy development. This is a great gambit because reporters always do what they’re told by a politician who’s up to his neck in it. For instance, if you’re caught cheating on your spouse, just tell those nosy reporters to focus on what really matters: the fact that mangoes are delicious. Yes, when they find you naked in a motel, they’ll probably ask questions like, “What does this say about your personal integrity?” and “What’s with the clown mask?” But give them the skinny on mangoes and they’ll be rushing to the pay phones to yell: “STOP THE PRESSES—I’VE GOT BREAKING FRUIT NEWS!” Works every time.
Duffy’s problem, which he appears to share with others, is that if he doesn’t live in P.E.I. he is constitutionally barred from occupying any of that province’s four Senate seats.
Whoops! When the Senate leadership went after the former television reporter for his expense accounts, they didn’t mean to open that particular can of worms.
So their solution is to say that, yes, Duffy lives in P.E.I. because he said so when the current Parliament began two years ago.
But no, he appears not to live in P.E.I. and therefore may not be eligible for any housing allowances received. His expense accounts have been put to external auditors for investigation.
How can he be a resident and non-resident at the same time? In the world most of us inhabit, he cannot. Only in theoretical physics and the parallel universe that is the Senate is such a thing possible.- The Star's editorial board rightly notes that Claude Patry should seek a new mandate from voters after abandoning the NDP for the Bloc, while Chantal Hebert sees the departure as "more like a paper cut than a puncture wound". And I'll point back to my take on the last similar case - which proved to be an isolated move by an isolated MP rather than a harbinger of anything to come.
- Finally, Ezra Klein writes about the limits of a president's persuasive powers. But while his conclusion distinguishes between the U.S.' system of divided government and parliamentary structures, I have to wonder whether it applies even more strongly in Canada: where a president may see the need to marshal some form of persuasion in order to get anything passed, far too many majority governments seem to believe they're better off not even trying to justify massive bills which can be rammed through without debate rather than engaging in a discussion which could call attention to their actions.