Photo: Cotton Candy Clouds by David Johnson, from the OttawaStart Flickr Group
Rose Simpson's column appears every Tuesday morning on the OttawaStart Blog. She also blogs at Rose's Cantina.
For years now, Old Duff has been toiling on your behalf, posing as a political Senator, to unearth how many ways it's possible to screw the Canadian taxpayer. Indeed, he should win himself a Michener Award, or a Genie at the very least. Do they still give those out for enterprise journalism?
Seriously, folks, everyone who lives in Ottawa knows the system stinks -- especially Senate operations. We've had major evidence of this for years. Like the Senator who spent all his time in Mexico instead of warming his seat in the Red Chamber. How long did it take people to figure that one out? Or how many others managed to go from living in nice condos to multimillion dollar houses in Manotick within minutes of their appointment to the Senate. How many of them are registered lobbyists?
You see, people who are appointed to the Senate have, well, expectations. Most of them come from well heeled jobs in corporate Canada, or law firms or big media jobs. They believe they deserve free booze, large expense accounts and golf memberships.
You'd think they'd just won Cash For Life. Well, guess what, most of them did!
Senators have been forging documents for years, fudging their expenses, free wheeling their way around the country toiling for their respective political parties on the taxpayer dime, and everybody, everybody, everybody knew about it and did absolutely nothing.
It took Mike Duffy to belly flop in the pool and displace all the water before anybody -- the RCMP, the media, officials in the Senate, the Canadian Revenue Agency -- thought: "Holy Shit, we really need to get on top of this".
Journos are lining up to take the credit, and bows, scooping up major hardware and rewards for "uncovering" the Senate scandal. That's unfortunate. They're all trying to convince Canadians that it was their investigative journalism, but really, it was Duffy all along.
Let's buy him a round.
For it will be Duffy, not CTV news, who will take down a sitting prime minister for snoozing while the Red Chamber burned. It will be Duffy who will be personally responsible for cleaning up the Senate and its loosey goosey rules and regulations. And it will be Duffy who will be responsible for ensuring proper accounting methods are put in place.
(Though Pam Wallin does deserve an honorable mention for best hair.)
I'd say there are a lot of former Senators who are pretty happy they are dead right now. And there are many, many sitting Senators who are sending their shorts out for dry cleaning. The gravy train stops right here, right now. And there are plenty who have some 'splaining to do.
If I were in charge of the government, I'd go further. I'd call for a pre-emptive strike on other questionable practices which are followed not just by Senators and MPs, but by journalists. If we're going to make Parliament accountable, we should shut down the Parliamentary restaurant, take away the tabs at Hy's, and make everybody eat at Tim Horton's just as we do. Also, get rid of the free parking and subsidized cafeterias.
We don't get free parking, do we? I don't know about you, but it costs me $15 every time I go downtown, so I take the bus. No little green bus picks me up.
It's time that our elected officials mirror our lives and bring their own brown bags, and pay for their own memberships at Good Life fitness. (Hey, you get points for referrals!)
Let them get hair cuts at First Choice, and go to U Frame It to get their vanity pictures framed.
And while we're at it, take away their householders, those ridiculous pieces of mail MPs send out to you and me that just end up in the recycle without being read. Let them use the Internet like the rest of us to deliver their propaganda. Dial up!
Duffy has shown us that as long as there are loopholes that we can drive a lorry through, there will be cheaters who will use the system to their own advantage and line their pockets. So let's get rid of all of them.
No more two residence rules for anybody. No more limos to drive Cabinet ministers four blocks from their condos to Parliament Hill.
Let's make being a Senator or MP as unfun as possible.
It's only then will we get people in office who truly want to be there for the betterment of Canadians.
Thanks Duff, thanks a lot.
Godspeed, and let 'er rip at the trial.
-- Rose Simpson
See also: Ottawa Media Guide
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