Senate scandal and growing pains

A teenager complains of strange aches and pains during their growth stages. So does a democracy when it’s caught in a growth spurt.
Our Canadian parliament has been complaining since last May. Primarily, the  Opposition has been attacking Prime Minister Stephen Harper over expense claims of certain Conservative  Senators and other related events.
The Opposition cries ‘corruption!’ They demand that more heads of public servants  roll.  Harper and his spokesman defend, counter-attack, duck and explain, again and again.
It’s soaking up millions of gigajoules and megabytes in media transmissions. It’s huge considering the alleged wrongful expenses seem to be the same cost as a government brochure or a charity’s fundraising appeal, below $300,000.
The RCMP continue to investigate Senators and Senators have been suspended. Pollsters keep asking us if we prefer Senate reform or Senate abolishment. Do we  fix it or throw the bathwater out with the babies?
All this hew and cry tells us that somewhere in parliament, muscles  are stretching painfully. And what growth could we see here?
Most of us can’t take an extra five minutes on coffee breaks at work. Yet Senators were going on trips, staying at hotels, and attending international conferences with curiously little oversight.  Most of us know a work secretary who could straighten this out in a month. The Senate may hire more of these.
Last May we had no idea how much attention this scandal would absorb in parliament, surpassing the economy, jobs and even the budget. Now we know. If we’re lucky, someone might invent a new phone App to help us refocus MP’s – preferably before Christmas. They could  call it  ‘public input into parliamentary agendas’  (iPIPA).
No one can say how real this ‘scandal’ is until the RCMP release their report. Still, the Opposition launches accusations, political shows debate it endlessly and the rest of us talk about it every chance we get. Can we resist? No. But we might be learning to make fewer assumptions in our judgments.
This scandal is cloaked in more layers than Prince Harry’s team trekking across the Antarctic, and it will cause us more aches and pains than they’ll have when it’s done. It’s a test of human endurance,  building stamina for the long trek toward democratic perfection.
It isn’t just about a lack of secretaries in expense departments. It’s about legal battles between public officers, partisan spin before an election,  ties to the British parliamentary system and – with shades of Pierre Trudeau –  challenging the Canadian constitution! It’s taught us to ‘embrace’  the elephant standing on the pinhead. (But if anyone says ‘Repatriation,’ run away!)
With all that’s still ahead, the growing pains could become intense. Some Canadians may already be reaching for tubes of muscle goop, inhaling medically prescribed stress reducers, or begging for an NHL walkout for comic relief.
Don’t fret.  The Senate scandal can’t possibly, in the end, be a case of  ‘pain and no gain.’

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