Hungry Hungry Duffy

Hungry Hungry Duffy
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An obvious solution to my previously-discussed problem of wanting to draw more but possibly write a bit less is to just make more cartoons that reference stuff I’ve already written long editorials for the Huffington Post about. For example, Canada’s ongoing Senate expense scandal, which is becoming a bigger and bigger liability for Prime Minister Harper with each passing day.

As we’ve discussed previously, the crux of Senategate is that a number of senators Harper appointed have turned out to be real crooks, writing off exorbitant expenses that they were never entitled to, or claimed under false pretenses. They’ve all been since booted from the Conservative Party, and there’s currently a Harper-backed motion before the Senate itself to formally suspend them from the chamber without pay.

Anyway, the ongoing question is to what degree Harper holds responsibility for the mess, and as the story continues to unfold, that question is becoming more widely debated from more angles — particularly now that the embattled senators themselves have had a chance to air their side of the story. This is the question I engage with in my most recent HuffPo column:

According to that infamous Deloitte audit of a few months back, during the six-month period between April 2011 and September 2012, Senator Duffy milked tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars in per diems to cover all sorts of living-far-away expenses, including meals, flights, gas, and of course, his “second” house in Ottawa, where he’s been living for decades, even though the only time he spent in his “primary” residence — a resort cottage in P.E.I. — was during summer vacation. Senator Brazeau, for his part, was estimated to have spent a whopping 10 per cent of that same six-month period in his “primary” residence of Maniwak, Quebec, but still charged taxpayers almost $49,000 in travel and housing compensation. The RCMP thinks it’s possible he never lived there at all.

In his long and self-righteous screed on the Senate floor yesterday, Duffy recounted a conversation he had with the Prime Minister once word of his dubious travel expenses began to leak to the press. Harper, he said, was forcing him to take a fall for doing “nothing wrong” and having “violated no laws.”

“It’s not about what you did,” responded the PM, according to Duffy. “It’s about the perception of what you did that’s been created in the media. The rules are inexplicable to our base.” And so Duffy was strong-armed into paying back (with the help of PMO chief of staff Nigel Wright, of course) his $90,000 travel-and-living expense tab. Senator Brazeau, meanwhile, has never paid back anything, but similarly maintains he’s being “thrown under the bus” for non-existent crimes.

You can read the whole thing here.




^ 15 Comments...

  1. Kwyjor

    The cartoon is of somewhat questionable taste, in the sense that it appears to be mocking Mr. Duffy's weight.

    I still find it rather baffling that fuss is being made over a matter of tens of thousands of dollars. Yes, it's more money than most of us would ever be willing to throw around, and yes, lying about it is rather reprehensible, and yes, there should probably be a stop put to it quite promptly, but surely in the grand scheme of things there are much more important things to worry about? Remember how much the Governor-General was spending a few years ago? Or the millions upon millions spent on the Gomery inquiry ? But I guess that's just my opinion.

  2. w00062016

    Okay, two points:
    1. Theft is theft even if others steal more. Just because corrupt CEOs embezzle more than you could possibly steal at knifepoint doesn't make mugging grandma alright.
    2. This scandal reinforces the impression that many people have of the senate being an utterly corrupt institution. As it stands, it's more or less openly acknowledged that senate seats are given out as rewards for aiding the party (Senator Duffy, for example, was a major fundraiser). The fact that senators have few responsibilities and lavish expense accounts only furthers the impression that the senate exists to reward (usually already rich) party hacks at taxpayer's expense. The fact that so many of these parasitic rich buggers weren't happy with the already infuriating amount of graft they were getting and decided to flat out cheat the system and now that they're caught they not only don't feel sorry, but they're openly defiant; well, you can see why some might find that fussworthy.

  3. Taylor

    Mr. Duffy's weight is part of his public persona, and has long been his main identifying characteristic. It has probably helped him more than hurt him over the years.

  4. David Liao

    Perhaps this will serve as greater impetus for the Senate to be directly elected.

  5. Taylor

    It's a greater impetus to burn the thing down. Electing that circus would only be giving them more power to be idiots.

  6. Dryhad

    On the contrary, it would make them answerable to the electorate as opposed to answerable to nobody at all, as is apparently the current state of things. Who cares what loopholes and "technically not illegal" claims they throw up if you can just wait till the next election and let the voters demonstrate their displeasure?

  7. Taylor

    If they're obviously willing to cheat their finances to the point that they risk a lifetime appointment, what will they care what voters think?

    BC has 6 seats, NS has 10, the Premiers are advocates enough for provincial governments, and there will never be an acceptable agreement to make the thing electable and properly representative. Kill it.

  8. Dryhad

    You're just assuming that an elected Senate will elect exactly the same people who are currently in office, or else that losing an election will not result in the loss of a Senate seat. It's some kind of bizarre doublethink where the Senate is simultaneously reformed and not reformed such that it makes sense to point to how it currently works as evidence that it would not work under any number of reforms.

    As far as representation goes, that's a different issue that I wasn't commenting on. I find it odd, however, that you think "there will never be an acceptable agreement" with respect to reform means that abolishing the house is so much more likely.

  9. Taylor

    I'm not assuming anything, and I never said it was likely it would be abolished.

  10. Dryhad

    If you don't think it's likely that it will be abolished, then saying it shouldn't be reformed because it should be abolished is a red herring. The rest of us are assuming that it's going to keep on existing and trying to make the most of that. You just seem to want to grumble generally about any possible solution.

  11. Jake_Ackers

    Wouldn't the easiest way to just make the Senate appointed proportionally by the PM and other party leaders? So every election the Senate changes just like the parliament. Except it's appoint by the party leaders. This way they can directly remove the bad Senators.

    For example, make the Conservative seats proportional to the amount elected in the House and the same for the minority parties. And have it changed during every election. This way you don't have two houses stopping each other. And moreover you have the Senators directly accountable. If they screw up, they get replaced or get pushed lower down the pecking and risk not be replaced in the Senate. Like if the party loses seats in the House.

  12. Jake_Ackers

    Can someone explain to me the point of the Canadian Senate? Can it actually stop a bill from being passed? If so, then doesn't that fly in the face of the point of there being a parliament? After all isn't the Senate appointed for life? If the Left in Canada takes over lets say today, won't the Conservative majority in the Senate stop them if they wish? If they can't, then what is even the point of having a Senate in Canada?

  13. Taylor

    Since you insist on throwing 8 questions at once:
    -OK
    -Yes.
    -No, in the same way giving Wyoming 2 Senators and California 2 Senators fly in the face of a "congress."
    -No, people older than 35 are appointed until they are 75.
    -They can, though the Liberals and PCs opted not to do so in the early years of Harper/Chretien. They through up some major obstruction in the Mulroney era (forced an election on free trade, GST filibusters).
    -It's a vestigial body.

  14. Jake_Ackers

    Thanks. My point if that it flies in the face of a parliament is because a parliament is suppose to be quicker in passing laws and more reactive than a Congress. A bicameral congress is suppose to be slower.

  15. Marc Paradis

    Historically, it was a political body chosen by the Crown to stop the lower house from passing any laws that would be too anti-britain. Technically it was a means to veto anything the Crown itself didn't like. The problem with abolishing it is that it would fundamentaly change our constitution and that's a whole other can of worms.