Come clean and change

Written by Submitted

It’s shocking, demoralizing, disgusting and discouraging! The Prime Minister and many of his caucus members came out of the reform movement, a group disillusioned with the actions of traditional parties. Reform was a grassroots call to eliminate pork barreling, protect taxpayers and bring honesty and integrity back into politics.  But those dreams and values are being shattered with the daily revelations rocking the Senate and the Prime Minister’s Office.
How is it possible that Stephen Harper’s Government, in just seven short years, are on the cusp of a crisis that may make the Liberal sponsorship scandal pale in comparison.
Is it because Harper is just a very poor judge of character? For example his selection of “dead-beat dad”, Patrick Brazeau, as Senator was out of character for a Prime Minister with a family-focused agenda.
Is Harper being maliciously sabotaged by people he thinks are friends?  One gets suspicious of why an intelligent, strategic man such as Nigel Wright, Harper’s Chief of Staff, would gift $90,000 to a Senator under investigation. Surely a friend would know bringing Duffy’s issues into the PMO would cause undue problems for the Prime Minister.
Is it because once in Ottawa one becomes intoxicated with the titles, Right Honourable and Senator, and the honour and respect that comes with the positions?  It’s a pretty heady experience to all of a sudden have people bow to your every wish, get first-class treatment, chauffeurs and limos, international travel, police detail and a generous expense account with few oversights.
There have been many Senate spending scandals by all parties for far too many years, yet the speed at which Senators Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy took to pork-barreling must have been a record. Or does that speak to their profession, a group including myself, who spend a lot of time finding and reporting fault in others. Do journalists come to see themselves as holier and morally better than those they report on?
Or is it more sinister than that?  Is this Harper’s plan to discredit the Senate enough that Canadians will call for its complete abolition rather than reform?  In a parliamentary system, the Senate not only acts as a sober second thought but also has the power to stop a rouge Prime Minister.
In the United States, the President has the power to start wars and veto bills, but has no legislative power to push through his agenda except through persuasion and negotiation. In Canada, a majority government can do anything they want and without a Senate, the Prime Minister would have dictatorial-like powers, even more than what the position wields today.
Is it a character flaw? Harper is lauded as a great leader who brought Canada through the 2008 crisis with few scars. But surely ethics should be equally as important as leadership skills.  Has Harper’s propensity for control caused him to set aside his personal beliefs to achieve his agenda?
It’s a mystery. Who knows what the right answer is.
Most Western Canadians who voted Conservative never dreamt they would live to see what is unfolding in Ottawa today.
One thing is sure, the Conservative Party leadership, including Stephen Harper, must have their wings clipped a little bit and party principles re-established. That can only be done by the Party’s rank n’ file contributors and members and its Caucus members.
There’s little time between now and the election to wipe away memories of these scandals, but the most effective way is to come clean and change.

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