Monday, November 11, 2013

So Exactly What Was it All For?

So, Prime Minister Stephen Harper got his way. Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau have been suspended without pay, presumably because they allegedly violated Senate spending rules -- although Canadians still don't know for certain whether or not they did.

And now that they have been suspended, what do we find? That Senator Brazeau won't have to pay a dime on his alleged expense bill for the duration of his two-year suspension.

Presumably he won't be alone to this end. Which once again provokes a very serious question:

What exactly has all of this been for?

It obviously wasn't to get to the bottom to the entire affair. In fact, the suspension of Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau seems to have been calculated to avoid the sort of due process that would lead to a definitive answer to just what, if anything, these three have actually done wrong.

And it very clearly wasn't to prompt Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau to get the money repaid. Duffy paid -- part of an ethically-dubious deal hatched with the PMO -- despite the conclusions of a Deloitte audit that found his total ineligible expenses was much lower than the $90,000 Nigel Wright gave him to repay. And on top of all this, we now have the revelation that Brazeau won't have to pay for quite a while because of his suspension.

The Senate scandal has been a textbook case of how the actions taken to head off an embarrassing incident can balloon into an embarrassment far greater than that, and in time grow into a quite-genuine scandal.

In the wake of this revelation, Stephen Harper owes Canadians a damn good explanation. What was the rush to suspend Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau really for? At this point only Harper really knows for certain.

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