Thursday, 28 November 2013

When is Prime Minister Stephen Harper going to show some accountability for the Senate Scandal?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper answers an opposition question about the Senate scandal.

The public trust in the Age of Information means that screw-ups and mistakes expand into a crisis quicker than ever before. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has yet to learn that bad news travels at the speed of light and good news at the speed of sound. Accountability is important to stemming a crisis.

by Tom Thorne

There is a built in covenant between those who run for and assume public office and the electorate. People who become our politicians take on a duty that requires them to be not only responsible but ultimately accountable for their use of public resources in our name.

Our democracy is built on this covenant. When the politicians we elect become dysfunctional they need to be called to account for that is what accountable means when we trust them to build the public good.

When things go off the rails the test of any politician who is a leader is that they never obscure or play clever games with the truth. In the United States the recent wrangle over Obamacare is nothing short of denying the public good whether you agree with President Barack Obama or not.

President Barack Obama’s re-election partly on his health care initiative is denied by a hostile Republican Congress. To make their point about health care legislation Tea Party inspired Republicans deny the government the resources to maintain many government services. This clearly does not serve the public good. It is stretching the public trust to the breaking point.

As a result the electorate lose the trust in politicians and this only creates rounds of hatred ridicule and contempt. When they play congressional procedural games they deny the covenant they made with the electorate and their oaths of office to always promote the public good. 

There is no justification in filibustering by reading Dr. Seuss stories in order to take the US Government’s debt ceiling to the wall as a way to to stress the introduction of Obamacare. If these politicians oppose then they must oppose in a positive way by bringing forward useful proposals to improve legislation before it was passed. Otherwise the public trust is jeopardized.

Tangental to the act of almost closing down the US Government was the poor introduction of the web sites to register people for this new program. Although criticized by those opposing Obamacare, the President at least acknowledged the problems and took the accountability for the situation on himself. There is a lesson there for what has been happening in Ottawa.

Public trust and public good in an Information Society are brought to a conflict instantly. They are Tweeted or Face Booked and they are blogged and covered by media more than ever before. Peccadilloes such as the Senate Expenses debacle in Ottawa are evidence of the few forgetting their covenant with the Canadian electorate. 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to be much more accountable for his action or inaction concerning the Senate Scandal. He is the boss and so he is accountable for what happened in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). He cannot pass his accountability to anyone else. He carries the can and would know that if he was a real leader.

In the world of media relations he would have been much better off today if he had taken the view that he alone was accountable even if he didn’t know what Nigel Wright was doing paying money for Senator Mike Duffy.

Had the Prime Minister simply stated that he screwed up when this all happened I believe that he would have ridden out this problem quicker. Had he been completely forthcoming about plan A for the Conservative Party to pay Duffy’s expenses back and his legal fees this story even with the Nigel Wright episode would be now on the back pages.  

The Prime Minister’s obscurity and vagueness combined with his vindictive view that the Senate should throw out the three senators with expense problems ensured that this sad situation escalated on two fronts the PMO and the Senate debates into a public and media debacle that make the Prime Minister look either incompetent or weak as a leader. 

A leader steps up and takes his lumps. If he has missed that he is accountable for he must regain his credibility by being accountable.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper looks bad because he blames underlings when things go wrong. 

What does it take to get politicians to be accountable? When Stephen Harper stands up to answer the opposition in Question Period carefully steps through the cow pads created by his own PMO about the Senate scandal. In this case the only reason for answering questions with obscurities, innuendo and blaming others is that you fear prosecution yourself.

I leave the question open whether Prime Minister Stephen Harper knew about the Nigel Wright payment. If he knew and he continues with his obscurities then if he did know he has lied to Parliament and if he didn’t know then he is a poor manager of his own PMO’s activity. Time to take your lumps.  

His own legal council knew and didn't tell him which has Benjamin Perrin before the Ontario and British Columbia bars. That is why the RCMP has a morbid interest in this situation. Of course if you are guilty then you need not say much or anything that could incriminate yourself.  No matter how you cut this situation those cow pads smell bad.
© Copyright 2013, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved

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