Stephen Harper’s former Parliamentary Secretary Dean Del Mastro was once the face of a government fending off claims that fraudulent robocalls which plagued 200 ridings in the last federal election were orchestrated by the Conservative Party. He became infamous for dismissing all electoral infractions as “unsubstantiated smears” and then the tables turned.
On January 24, 2006, Stephen Harper won his first mandate on the promise of making Ottawa accountable. Nine years and countless scandals later, accountability is back in the spotlight and the tables have turned.
A majority of Canadians (62% according to a recent Angus Reid poll) rightfully believe the recent Fair Elections Act proposal shows “the Conservative government is motivated politically and dislikes Elections Canada.”
The senate voted to suspend senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, and Patrick Brazeau without pay yesterday, an unprecedented move that has trumped due process in an attempt to silence a year-long scandal.
As Canadians look for answers in the ongoing senate saga, Harper’s statements and lack of statements have raised more questions than answers. One minute, the scandal is isolated to his former chief of staff Nigel Wright, the next, “very few people” knew. One minute, he was saddened to see Wright resign, now Wright was “dismissed.” In 2005, the Prime Minister was responsible for the actions of his staff, today, there is no correlation. In 2005, withholding information was enough reason to hold a political leader to the fire, today, it is the norm. It appears contradictions are dominating Harper’s dialogue and actions, should he be held by his 2005 standards today?
Within six days of Duffy’s bombshell allegation implicating Harper in the Duffy affair, Duffy released documents today which implicate Conservative Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton in a second cheque.
There is no going back on The Duffy Affair, the breach of trust and scar to the Conservative brand will last a while. The story is on people’s minds and despite an aggressive effort to get it off the agenda, the fall session of Parliament is picking up where the spring session left off – in an interrogation room setting with an opposition playing whack a mole with a defiant prime minister.
The Conservatives have desperately tried to dodge the scandals floating in the senate but as time progresses, the situation appears to be getting worse. The Duffy Affair already has some explosive new leads: one of the senators who became known for whitewashing an independent audit is also wrapped into scandal, a mysterious binder belonging to Harper’s former Chief of Staff reveals Duffy’s calendar, Duffy contracted $65,000 for “little or no apparent work.”