Scandal raises concerns over Harper’s leadership

By his own actions, either Stephen Harper permitted the Senate spending, which caused the present scandals, or he is “not a leader”.

In 2007, the Harper Conservatives ran attack ads against then–Liberal leader Stéphane Dion saying that Dion “can’t get his own senators to pass” certain legislation in the Senate, making him “not a leader”.

Those few words from the Harper Conservatives tell us a lot. First, in Harper’s view, senators are beholden to (as in, should obey) the head of the party in the House of Commons bearing the same name. Secondly, if that party head can’t get the senators to obey, then that head is not really a leader.

Harper is the head of the Conservative party. He has the reputation of being a control freak, meaning he or his people have their hands on everything, not letting anything slip by their control.

The current Senate scandals surrounding former Conservative senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, and Patrick Brazeau, and Harper’s ex–chief of staff Nigel Wright all involve Harper Conservative appointees.

As this ties to Harper personally, there are only two conclusions. Either, his “own senators” were doing exactly as he told them, in which case Harper is personally in this mess up to his neck, or Harper “is not a leader” (based on his own attack ads), as his “own senators” implicitly or directly refused to follow his directives.

From his own statements, there is no other conclusion—either way he loses. As they say, “what goes round, comes round”.

> Ian MacLeod / Richmond


Bill C-377 currently before the Senate finance committee proposes that all union books be open to the public [“NDP leader Thomas Mulcair grills Stephen Harper on Mike Duffy and the senate expenses scandal”, web-only]. Conservative proponent MP Russ Hiebert argues that labour organizations should not be worried if they have nothing to hide, and that taxpayers deserve access to this information because union dues are tax creditable.

But taxpayers also support direct contributions to political parties. Conservatives must explain why rules for transparency and accountability should apply to union activity but not to secret slush funds operated by the Conservative Party of Canada out of the Prime Minister’s Office? Could Conservatives have something to hide?

> Larry Kazdan / Vancouver