Friday, 17 May 2013

Entitled to Taxpayers' Money

It seems that politicians are unable to learn any lessons from the past. When the Conservatives got into power, albeit by a slim majority, it was clearly as a result of the Liberals’ bungling of the so-called Adscam scandal. At the time Prime Minister Harper made it quite clear that his government would be more accountable and more transparent.

When Conservatives were the opposition, they made it quite clear that Senate reform was part of their agenda, if not the abolition but some revision as to the  process of appointments to the Upper Chamber. However, once in power many appointments were made by the Prime Minister to garner a majority, under the impression that those appointed would vote for changes to the Senate. Among those appointed were Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin both from the mainstream media. I for one never thought of these two as true conservatives. However for the sake of moving the conservatives forward they were in the Chamber with all the perks and trappings that the job entails.

Now we find that among those being investigated for abuse of funds and expense claims are the same two Senators. The investigation is about travelling and more importantly where they claimed their principal residence is and what expenses they claimed.

In the case of Senator Duffy, once the investigation found that he may be at fault, he repaid some $90,000. There does not seem to be anything wrong with the repayment, but the investigation was stopped when the expenses were repaid. How they were repaid is a bigger conundrum as it is reported that he got the money from the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff. The Prime Minister may not know anything about the transaction, but it certainly is too close for comfort. Now the Senate Committee wants the report on Mr. Duffy’s expenses brought back for further examination, and as a result the Senator has resigned from the Conservative caucus, but not from the Seanate..

The whole affair about Senators’ expense is a scandal and we should get to the bottom of it. This is not just a Conservative or Liberal problem this is a problem of accountability. Too many politicians take taxpayers’ money for granted and use it as if it were their own. Once they get in and embrace the culture of entitlement, it seems that there are no bounds to what length and how much they think they can bilk the taxpayer.

In our view, the Prime Minister must get to the bottom of this scandal, charge the culprits and if found guilty expel them from the Senate. This scandal could become the noose around the Conservatives neck at the next election. For the sake of the country the Prime Minister must show leadership and be less supportive of his colleagues when they abuse the public’s trust. He has two years to get rid of the bad apples, not very much time before the next election and Canadians are beginning to have second thoughts about the existence of the Senate. ‘Triple E’ may soon be accepted as ejected, eradicated, and extinct not only for the Senate as an institution but  also for the ruling party.

Marcel Latouche

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