Friday, 25 October 2013

Canadian Senate explores Star Chamber methods to save Prime Minister Stephen Harper's reputation.

Senators Brazeau, Wallin and Duffy.

Canadian democracy in jeopardy. First looks at the Stephen Harper Star Chamber in action.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper likes control. He likes it so much that he could be on the verge of stressing our democratic institutions and the basic right to be innocent until proven guilty. 

His actions to kick senators Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau out of the Conservative Caucus may show a latent disregard for due legal process but when he orders Senate leader Marjory LeBreton to introduce sanctions against Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau to stop their pay and allowances that act shows a mean disregard for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Parliament and Senate of Canada are not immune from the Charter’s provisions.

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) is the operational focus of the Harper government. They operate as a political arm. The Conservative Caucus in the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada is now putty in the hands of the Prime Minister and his PMO. There is no thought allowed except PMO Think.  PMO Think is Harper Think. All decisions lead to the PMO. Their power is the arm of the Prime Minister.

Canadian democracy is in jeopardy when it is run by unelected PMO officials who work trying to keep their fingers in every pie of the government. They are the Prime Minister’s arm to get his decisions implemented.  That includes whipping the Conservative majority in the Commons and in the Senate to do the Prime Minister's bidding. Members of Parliament and Senators can be summoned and threatened by the PMO and always in the name of the Prime Minister.

The trouble is they screw up a lot of the time. Former PMO chief of staff, Nigel Wright, decided to bail out Senator Duffy with $90,000 his own money. Then taking the fall the Prime Minister says that he does not know anything about this deal. He claims he learned about when Canadians did. That defies credibility. Nigel Wright is gone simply because he got caught and embarrassed the Prime Minister.

Duffy says he was told to keep this a secret and also to say he has arranged a loan with his bank. And although the Prime Minister ordered Duffy to pay back the expenses he claims that after a meeting with a “few” PMO people he knew nothing of the Nigel Wright $90,000 arrangement. If that is true then Nigel Wright had been given too much authority by the Prime Minister if he thought he could give Duffy $90,000 of his own money and keep the prime Minister out of that loop.

And when this deal when south the Prime Minister dumped Nigel Wright and now is sweeping the Senate of anyone with any problems to “protect the base”. The base in question are right wing ideologues who support the Harper notions of less government and an environmental hands off policies.

The current debate in the Senate is seriously trying to suspend three appointed Harper senators and take away their pay and allowances because they had some difficulties with expenses. In the cases of Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy they have paid back the money that they allegedly booked as unallowable expenses. And the Senate expense rules changed and both Duffy and Wallin retroactively became liable for breaking rules that didn’t exist or were unclear. 

Star Chamber Justice usually means that the evidence is altered unilaterally to suit the prosecution. That’s what happened here. In addition, the RCMP has had these files all summer and have not brought any charges against Duffy and Wallin. So why the haste? Are both Senators persona non grata because they crossed or embarrassed Stephen Harper or worse yet the PMO operatives?

None of this makes any difference to Prime Minister Harper. They have to go. The fact that he appointed Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau is clearly forgotten. If these people are so bad it calls into question the PM’s ability to choose good senators and for that matter PMO chiefs of staff who don’t do dumb things like use their own money to bail out Senators in trouble. Obviously there was an attempt to cover up the $90,000 and it flopped.

Parliamentary legal expert opinion stated today that the removal of Duffy, Wallin or Brazeau’s pay and allowances is not the prevue of the Prime Minister, the PMO, The Senate or The House of Commons. If the Senate suspends and removes their pay and allowances they will be open to a legal challenge. So the suspension of pay will fuel the scandal not put it out. It will also show clearly that Harper control is also not working.

Perhaps when the Conservatives have their Convention this week someone will have the intestinal fortitude to question Stephen Harper on his clumsy record with his PMO and his appointments to the Senate and now the Supreme Court. 

And late breaking news: Brazeau approached by Senator Claude Carignon, the person sponsoring this legislation to take away salary and benefits from Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau, for a “lessor punishment” for Brazeau if he apologizes. This development is really like the Star Chamber. Who is Senator Claude Carignon to offer anything to another senator? Why does he think he has the authority to do this? Has Prime Minister Stephen Harper authorized this change?  I can’t wait for Question Period.

© Copyright, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved

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