Many will maintain that kicking a couple of Senators out comes a dollar short and a day late.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives’ lack of response earlier to the actions and inappropriate spending of several Senate members spoke volumes to Canadians. It communicated a non-desire to deal with the embarrassment brought on by these people they’d selected, who scandalously betrayed our trust.
On Thursday, Harper’s government finally acknowledged the damage. Claude Carignan, the government’s leader in the Senate, introduced motions to suspend Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau.
And this will come as a relief to Canadians: the move will also mean they will not receive pay, or the benefits or resources enjoyed by Senators.
The timing is interesting. As the controversy heated up over much of the course of the year, the Conservatives downplayed the shenanigans. A high-ranking Conservative even took the pains to help make one of Duffy’s spending missteps go away by writing him a $90,000 cheque.
So what made the government finally act?
A good bet is the assurance that both the NDP and Liberals in opposition were not about to let up and had every intention of pounding the Conservatives on this issue in the upcoming sitting of Parliament.
This comes at a time when the public and many politicians are calling for reform of the upper chamber – with the NDP still gunning for outright abolition. On the latter score, however, it should be noted that it’s constitutionally out of sight. For more on that, readers can take in the comments and observations of Sen. Jim Cowan, found on Page 9 of this newspaper.
The opposition, at the very least, expects to see more done, with NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus calling for the expense scandal to be referred to the procedure and House affairs committee to determine whether there was any deliberate attempt to mislead.
Expect some tough questions, but don’t hold your breath for clear answers.