Don Martin: Risky times for Stephen Harper
Published Friday, October 25, 2013 5:50PM EDT
I don’t usually unleash a knee-slapping howl of laughter listening to Stephen Harper.
But I had to guffaw after the prime minister delivered this straight-faced verdict on Sen. Mike Duffy on Thursday.
“It is clearly inappropriate to try and collect travel expenses when one is living at a residence he or she has had for many, many years,” he told the Commons.
Seriously prime minister? You didn’t know Mike Duffy lived in Ottawa and was a let’s-pretend Prince Edward Islander when you appointed him? You never peered over your office balcony to see him hosting a politics show in the foyer of the House of Commons?
Willful blindness goes to the heart of the unfairness which bothers so many senators. The Prime Minister’s Office knew Duffy was pureblood Ottawa. They endorsed his collection of housing subsidies for a P.E.I. cottage. They didn’t object until it was a media story. And then they picked up pitchforks to drive him from office along with Senators Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau.
Deliberate ignorance explains a prime minister in the dark about the Nigel Wright payoff while at least a dozen of his staff hatch the scheme. But it cannot explain away the PMO’s blessing for Duffy’s housing subsidies.
Thus we have a government proudly promoting law, order and victims’ rights now practicing retroactive persecution without representation and harsh sentencing without appeal. In the cradle of democracy, an injustice is flourishing.
It’s entirely possible Harper will win the day. His non-negotiable imposition of capital punishment for three discredited members of a badly tarnished institution could be more popular than any leniency advocated by the Liberal side of the Senate.
But these are risky times for Harper. He has clearly laid down the law on firing offences. He has issued orders to the Senate he expects to be obeyed.
If those laws and orders aren’t followed, he could yet be a victim of his decree that political expediency trumps natural justice.
That’s the Last Word.