Lesser Transgressions

Will Tories be hanged for the wrong crimes?

by Stephen Whitworth

It’s been a long couple of months for conservative true believers. They’ve had to watch as their favourite party and politicians were battered by wave after wave of scandals. Let’s recap the fun:

We learned that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff Nigel Wright cut a cheque to Conservative Senator Mike Duffy to cover Duffy’s repayment of dubious expense claims. Another Conservative Senator, Saskatchewan-born Pamela Wallin, is embroiled in her own expense controversy. Both Tory senators have been key to Tory fundraising — and both are now exiles from the Senate’s Conservative caucus.

We also found out that the Prime Minister’s Office maintains a secret, $1 million Conservative Party fund. What’s it for? We don’t know. We DO know that the now-resigned Wright had sole signing authority. Opposition parties have speculated Wright may have planned to reimburse himself from this fund for the money he paid out to Duffy.

On top of that, two Conservative members of parliament from Manitoba are battling Elections Canada in a campaign returns dispute. Elections Canada has actually asked Speaker Of The House Andrew Scheer to suspend the pair (he hasn’t).

And it never ends. As Prairie Dog went to press, an Ontario MP landed in trouble for allegedly claiming steakhouse visits, cupcakes, haircuts and whitening toothpaste as campaign expenses.

Perhaps most seriously, on May 23 the robocall ruling came down. While the six Conservative MPs — including Saskatoon Rosetown MP Kelly Block — who may have benefitted from what appears to have been a vote suppression campaign weren’t removed from office, the Federal Court judge did state unequivocally that fraud had occurred — and a Conservative Party database was almost certainly used to perpetrate it.

Meanwhile in Toronto, that city’s garrulous mayor continues to make an international spectacle of himself. He continues to ignore reporters’ questions about allegations he was filmed smoking crack in the basement of an Etobicoke bungalow and that he and his brother have connections to criminal activity and a murdered drug dealer (the Globe And Mail has reported Mayor Rob Ford’s brother, Doug, was a mid-level hash dealer in the ’80s). Key staffers subsequently left Team Ford and the mayor even fired his loyal chief of staff, Mark Towhey, after the long-time right-hand-man had the sense to suggest the mayor get some help.

The response to this tsunami of scandal from some supporters of right-wing candidates has been predictable, if sad: “There’s no connection between the PMO and the senate scandals,” they declare, adding, “the accusations against Rob Ford are bullshit created by newspapers that have a vendatta against the poor guy.”

Yeah, yeah, blah blah blah. It’s a pathetic defence, and one that likely won’t wash with honest conservatives who mistakenly thought they’d voted for the most ethical option.

But despite the media attention, the problem with these scandals isn’t so much the fact of them. The real issue is the underlying malignance of the political entities involved.

The Federal Conservatives have pushed mean-spirited, un-Canadian policies since the party’s founding. They’ve attacked environmental regulations, created deficits, suppressed scientists, nuked public daycare, fought same-sex marriage rights and brought religion into politics in a profoundly creepy American way. They’ve pushed a pro-war, military agenda and clueless Nancy Reagan-style drug prohibition. They’ve been “tough on crime” but soft on guns, and clueless on rehabilitating criminals. They’ve also bashed art and culture, attacked trade unions and made the federal civil service a miserable, partisan place to work.

As for Ford — a rage-flinging anger-monkey who hates cyclists, public transportation, unions and anything that contradicts 1950s suburban fantasies — well, he yam what he yam.

When, not if, these politicians are driven from office, the scandals that undid them will have been the least of their transgressions.

I want them gone so I’ll take it, but it’s hardly justice. It’s like watching like Al Capone go to jail for tax fraud.

2013-06-13