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January 17, 2014

Stephen Harper comes clean

Scott Stockdale

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The veneer of respectability has been lifted from the image of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the minds of the Canadian people and the entire world, as a result of the ongoing Senate scandal, which Mr. Harper's own office has characterized as "a gathering mess".

He is no longer “the master chess player” on the political scene. He's an ordinary man, without the dignity and the wisdom of Canadians themselves: the very people who elected him to serve them in an honourable, dignified manner.

Canadians are appalled by Mr. Harper's willingness to throw whomever he feels necessary under the bus in order to save himself, in this ongoing gathering mess.

In the December 30, issue of the National Post, Michael Den Tandt wrote:

“The Wright-Duffy mess, the sheer scale of the venality and dishonesty, exposed within his own office, among people he appointed, has shaken his personal standing.”

This is very kind of Mr. Den Tandt in that he didn't include Mr. Harper himself in the “sheer scale of the venality and dishonesty,” Mr. Harper claims he knew nothing about; and it helps explain National Post writer Andrew Coyne's puzzlement that he wasn't invited to an interview with Mr. Harper, so he had to make one up. But, unlike Mr. Harper, Mr. Coyne acknowledges in his December 23 article, that he made up his version of events for what he calls his “completely real imaginary year-end-interview with Stephen Harper.”

However, Mr. Coyne shouldn't take his lack of an invitation personally because the number of journalists Mr. Harper grants interviews to has steadily dwindled to a very few loyal sycophants, as this gathering mess continues to develop a life of its own. Moreover, Mr. Harper's press conferences have become a thing of the past and few Canadians can remember the last time he or one of his appointed spokesmen – for he's a real man and doesn't use women to do his dirty work – actually answered a question in the House of Commons.

The truth of the matter in this gathering mess is that the RCMP affidavit released on May 14, 2013, states that13 people who worked for Mr. Harper directly, or the Conservative Party of Canada, which elected Mr. Harper as its leader, knew that Nigel Wright, the now former head of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had personally repaid Senator Duffy's expense claims. Consequently, both Mr. Wright and Mr. Duffy are under criminal investigations by the RCMP.

Yet despite the fact that Mr. Duffy went on CBC TV on February 22, 2013 to tell the nation that he and his wife decided that they should pay back his expenses to the senate, with what was later determined by the RCMP to be Mr. Wright's funds, Mr. Harper continues to insist that his first knowledge of this transaction was May 15, 2013, nearly three months after Mr. Wright gave Senator Duffy a cheque for $90,000 to reimburse the Canadian taxpayers for housing expenses Mr. Harper and Mr. Wright told him he should not have claimed. Moreover, as the filth continues to come out in the wash, it was later revealed by  Senator Duffy – bless his heart for shedding light on the truth – that he received not one, but two cheques from Mr. Harper's underlings, with the second one being a cheque for $13,000 from Conservative Party of Canada lawyer Arthur Hamilton, to cover legal fees in this gathering mess.

Despite repeated questioning in the House of Commons, Mr. Harper has never answered the specific question of what he was told and what he approved. However, he has not denied that he knew the Conservative Party of Canada was going to pay Senator Duffy's expenses – when they were assumed to be $32,000, not $90,000.

In his year-end interview with the National Post, published Friday Dec. 20, 2013, Mr. Harper

said: “I'm enjoying running the country and I think I've got the only strong team and the only group of people with a serious economic agenda for the country. So we need to keep moving forward.”

While it is true that Mr. Harper has a serious economic agenda, it is certainly not for the good of the country. Since coming to power, he has continuously increased government spending, while at the same time continuously cut taxes, wiping out a government surplus, replacing it with huge yearly deficits and driving the country further and further into debt. However, this is something  future generations of Canadians - our children and grandchildren – will have to deal with.

As a result of the last eight years of tax cuts by the Harper government, Canada now has the second lowest business and consumption taxes in the G7, a policy which exponentially favours the privileged few at the expense of the rest of Canadians.

Meanwhile, federal revenue has been reduced to its lowest level in two generations. As a result, Ottawa doesn't have the money to fund programs to deal with issues such as income inequality, rising health care and post-secondary education costs and an ageing population.

But at the same time, Mr. Harper can truthfully say, as he did in his throne speech that, “as a result of our government's low-tax plan, the average Canadian family now pays $3,200 less in taxes every year.”

In other words, Mr. Harper has imposed a Faustian bargain on the Canadian people, without their knowledge.

In his year-end interview, Mr. Harper also buttressed his case for re-election but stating that the opposition parties have “nothing to offer”. It appears that God has spoken: it is Mr. Harper and his cabal of deceitful people alone who can run Canada, whether Canadians like it or not.

It brings to mind the axiom expressed by Edmund Burke: “Those once intoxicated with power can never willingly abandon it.”

The RCMP affidavit released to the Canadian media on May 14, 2013 clearly indicates that Mr. Harper knew far more about this gathering mess than he let on to the Canadian people for the many months that this senate scandal consumed government time and resources at the expense of Canadians themselves, in more ways than one.

Few outside of those close to Mr. Harper actually believe in him anymore. And that number is dwindling - witness Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney and Justice Minister Peter MaKay telling the Canadian media that Nigel Wright is a “decent, honourable man” after Mr. Harper had been and continues to tell the same media that Mr. Wright deceived and betrayed him. And even fewer, whether close to him or not, actually believe Mr. Harper anymore.

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