When Conservative Isn’t

Canadian flag twisting in the wind (cc by laurelrusswurm)

$90,000 “expenses”

Conservative Senator Mike Duffy’s idea of “expenses” is a little different than mine.

Meanwhile, the Senate’s internal economy committee wants to have another look at Duffy’s expense claims amid growing questions about his conduct, including new revelations that he filed claims for Senate business while campaigning for the Conservatives in the last federal election.

“Documents revealed that Duffy billed taxpayers for being on official Senate business while he was campaigning for the Conservatives during the 2011 federal election. If it is confirmed that Duffy attended eight campaign events and submitted Senate expenses, he could be in trouble for double-billing.”

Damning findings removed from Sen. Mike Duffy’s audit report: documents

Wasn’t Prime Minister Stephen Harper going to reform the Senate?

$90,000 “gift”

Nigel Wright Resigns As Stephen Harper’s Chief Of Staff (TWITTER REACTS)

One might think “Harvard-educated Bay Street lawyer and banker” Nigel Wright would know better than to write a cheque to cover Senator Mike Duffy’s exense irregularities.

“It goes without saying that a cheque for such a large amount is far from a customary standard of hospitality, nor a normal expression of courtesy,” [MP Charlie] Angus wrote in a letter.

“The NDP MP also suggested that Duffy, Wright, or both may have breached section 16 of the Parliament of Canada Act which prohibits a senator from receiving compensation for any services rendered.”

Mike Duffy Resignation: Senator Leaves Caucus, Will Sit As Independent

I’m always surprised when government tells us “throwing money at” education and health care are a bad idea. Properly funding social programs makes a lot more sense to me than covering up bad behaviour. I guess we just have different priorities.

$321,000 “expenses”

[Pamela] Wallin, a former journalist who now represents Saskatchewan in the Senate, has claimed about $321,000 in travel expenses since September 2010 that are the subject of an audit by an outside firm.

Senator Pamela Wallin leaves Conservative caucus: Wallin to sit as an Independent during audit process

Consequences?

Senators Duffy and Wallin both claim to have withdrawn from the Conservative caucus, but both plan to stay on as “independent” senators.

Uh huh… Does anyone actually believe they will suddenly stop supporting Conservative interests? Seriously?

$170,000 “expenses”

Another Conservative Government appointee, Daniel Caron, the head of Library and Archives Canada has also resigned over $170,000 of dubious expenses.

Since LAC is the official government repository of Canadian heritage,this one bothers me in particular.

Coping with a $10-million federal budget cut, Caron oversaw major staff downsizing to the department, reduced funding to scores of tiny archives across Canada, halted most acquisitions of historical artifacts, closed the National Archival Development Program, and stopped a system of inter-library loans through which Canadians could access material from its vast collections.

Library head Daniel Caron resigns as $170,000 in expenses found

When you consider that what Mr. Caron considers personal expenses would support as many as ten or fifteen families on social assistance for a year, it calls into question the word “conservative.”

Accountability

The National Post gets this one right: Andrew Coyne: Fear of audits led Conservatives to cover for Mike Duffy

Canada badly needs meaningful electoral reform. If we had a democratic system that actually represented Canadians ~ Proportional Representation ~ our government representatives and appointees could be held accountable.

What a difference that would make.

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Democracy Theatre

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In the National Post, Andrew Coyne asks:

“The economy is in good shape, so why is support for the Conservatives slumping?”

I’m making Mother’s Day cards right now so I don’t have time to read the article, but even having only read the blurb, I find myself disagreeing with Andrew Coyne’s conclusion.

The Tories have not gone out of their way to alienate anyone. They are simply doing the job they were elected to do.

The Harper governmenr is doing an excellent job of serving the only constituents they represent. Their party is legally empowered to govern in this way because our inequitable winner-take-all electoral system gives all of the power to the party that secures more seats than any other. 

Ours is not a democratic system. 

The problem with a winner-take-all system like ours is that a majority government is a dictatorship.

 flag smallThe rest of us don’t count any more than our votes do.

That is the reality built into Canada’s winner-take-all electoral system.

Only the elite whose votes elect the government secure representation in government.

The electoral reform Andrew Coyne supports is called “Alternative Vote” ~ although various spin doctors have rebranded it “Preferential Voting” (Liberal Party) or “IRV” (RaBIT). Some people like this alternate winner-take-all electoral system because they believe it will game the system so their party will get the dictatorial power currently enjoyed by the ruling party.

No matter how good the intentions, no matter how benevolent, a dictatorship is not democratic. Every time I hear people slamming Canadians for our low voter turnout it makes my blood boil. It isn’t that Canadians don’t care, it’s that each generation has learned that our elections are as meaningless as the elections in any banana republic.

When most votes don’t count, what you’re left with is really only democracy theatre.

I don’t think we can afford to pay the price demanded by anyone’s defacto dictatorship.

On this Mother’s Day, I reflect on why I write this blog: as a mother, I believe all of our kids deserve to live in a real democracy. But that will only happen with meaningful electoral reform to Proportional Representation.

All Canadians should be represented by our government. 

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