I've already said on this blog that I have little respect for the man's economic views. But when it comes to defending Parliament against the serial outrages of stephen harper, I give a tip of my hat to Andrew Coyne.
Yesterday he wrote a valuable commentary about the Duffy scandal. Its main source of value is its serving as a counterweight to all the idiotic attempts by harpercon hacks to deny the scandal of the Duffy-Wright bribe. ("So Wright repaid the taxpayers instead of Duffy himself. What's the big deal?")
Coyne summarizes what other clear-headed critics of harper have been saying for months:
First, there is the matter of the payment itself. The secrecy of it is indeed a large part of what makes it such a big deal. It was one of the conditions attached to the payment — at Wright’s explicit insistence — of the kind that mark the difference between a possible bribe and a gift; moreover the failure to disclose it is itself one of the things the law forbids.
It is important to bear in mind: Wright’s bank draft was not made out to the Receiver General, but to Duffy’s law firm. It may have ultimately gone to repay his expenses, but its first purpose was to relieve him of the obligation. Whether that was illegal or not is for a court to decide, but it clearly sailed very close to the line: if not under the Criminal Code, then under Sect. 16 of the Parliament of Canada Act (“no member of the Senate shall receive or agree to receive any compensation … in relation to any bill, proceeding, contract, claim, controversy, charge, accusation, arrest or other matter before the Senate…”) Put simply, you can’t make clandestine payments to sitting legislators, no matter what your reason.
But the payment was in the service of a broader subterfuge: the pretense that Duffy had repaid his expenses himself. Again, to those who protest “what does it matter who paid as long as it was paid,” it pretty clearly mattered to those involved. It mattered, because they wanted to remove the public stain on Duffy’s name — and not incidentally, on the man who appointed him. And it mattered because the claim that Duffy had repaid was critical to the argument that the quasi-legal proceedings begun against Duffy — the Deloitte audit, the Senate committee report — had been rendered moot.
But Coyne is a nationally-syndicated columnist from the right-side of the political spectrum. When Coyne says it, it has cultural weight.
There was the scandal of harper's arrogance and incompetence in making Duffy the Senator for PEI when Duffy lived in Ontario. There was the scandal of Duffy claiming his principle Ontario residence as an expense to be reimbursed by the taxpayers. And there is the main scandal that all of this was a taxpayer subsidy for Duffy to act as a full-time party fund-raiser.
That was what Wright was trying to buy Duffy's silence on.
In other news, some Globe & Mail airhead named Konrad Yakabuski farted out an entire column dedicated to the phenomenon of "harper derangement syndrome." Poor ol' Yakabuski just can't figure out the animosity to the centrist stephen harper. Nope. No sirreeee. All he can think of his harper's perhaps misguided cancellation of the long-form Census. And, well, ... what's the big deal?
I'm not going to link to that Globe & Mail's trollish click-bait piece of garbage. If Yakabuski wants the country to know that he's a shit-head who hasn't made the slightest effort to read any of the numerous take-downs of harper's disastrous reign of error, that's his business. If any Globe & Mail minions are reading this, I'd just like to add that brazen bullshit like that Yakabuski column is one of the many reasons I refuse to pay money for your newspaper.