“Another One Bites The Dust”
“Steve walks warily down the street, with the brim pulled way down low Ain’t no sound but the sound of his feet, machine guns ready to go” Another One Bites The Dust – Queen
The big news in Canada today was the rather abrupt departure of Dimitri Soudas, who up until last night was the Executive Director of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Men are born with two heads only one of which is specifically designed for thinking. It appears that Mr. Soudas may be guilty of thinking with the wrong one when it came to supporting his fiancee’s nomination battle which was a serious conflict of interest.
Mr. Soudas was caught using his position as key organizer for the coming 2015 federal election to try and help his fiancée, Conservative MP Eve Adams, with her campaign to obtain the nomination in a new Oakville riding just outside of Toronto. While it’s obvious that she’s a looker and that love does strange things to people under the midnight sun, it wasn’t a very astute move – especially when you are already not that popular with the grassroots.
And Mr. Soudas wasn’t all that popular with a majority of Conservatives.
He was considered a loyal Harper supporter who was unafraid to make the tough decisions and to use his authority to keep the great unwashed within the party in line. He and Ms Adams were considered a power couple in Ottawa although I suspect that is more a demi-power couple now than anything else.
“another one bites the dust”
For me, it’s all just more noise in the day. Whether Demitri Soudas is the CPC Executive Director or its handed off to another equally as thuggish, is irrelevant. What is relevant to me is Stephen Harpers ability to judge character when he makes a decision and appoints someone.
Remember Helena Guergis? Ms Guergis was a Conservative Member of Parliament appointed to the cabinet by Harper. After a number of incidents, most of which were overblown, Ms Guergis was accused, along with her husband, of consorting with prostitutes and drug dealers. Harper immediately threw her from cabinet and bounced her out of caucus. The RCMP investigated and cleared her of any and all wrong-doing in direct contradiction of the Prime Minister’s judgment.
“and another one’s gone – another one bites the dust”
Bruce Carson was a former advisor on the Prime Minister’s staff. Convicted of fraud twice in the 1980s and 90s; Mr. Carson was appointed to the PMO by Stephen Harper in 2006 and left that position in 2008. Following his departure, charges were levied against him for influence peddling and the PMO released two letters to the RCMP which seem to show that Mr. Carson was attempting to use his position to benefit a third party. In 2012, he was formally charged with ‘fraud on the government” under Canada’s criminal code.
“are you ready for this, are you standing on the edge of your seat?”
Mr. Carson was the second appointment by Stephen Harper to fall under police investigation but not the last. The RCMP is currently investigating the mess that is the Senate Expense Scandal. So far, the only Harper appointee charged is Senator Patrick Brazeau but the investigation is continuing and includes Senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin. All three senators, who were suspended from the Senate for egregious abuse of their expense accounts, were personally selected and referred to the Governor General for appointment by, Stephen Harper.
“And another one gone’s and another one’s gone – another one bites the dust”
He also selected his former staffer, Carolyn Stewart Olson, for the Senate who has since promised to repay wrongfully claimed expenses that are pretty much the same as those that got Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau kicked to the curb.
His former Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright, was forced to do a Demitri Soudas after it came to light that he had been dead centre of the expense scandal. In fact, a number of folks from the PMO suddenly found it advantageous to relocate out of the Prime Minister’s Office either to other jobs within Conservative ranks or out there into the big bold world far from the scandal.
Harper’s former parliamentary secretary, Dean Del Mastro, was forced to resign his position and from the Conservative caucus when he was charged for illegal campaign funding by Elections Canada.
“How do you think I’m going to get along without you on my own? . . .Another one bites the dust.”
Arthur Porter was appointed to oversee CSIS, Canada’s spy agency despite a fairly stark warning to the Prime Minister that it would be a serious mistake. Mr. Porter was forced to leave the position three months before his contract expired when some of his more questionable business dealings were revealed. He went on to McGill University which resulted in allegations of bribes and kickbacks in a major construction project. He is now in prison in Panama fighting extradition to Canada.
Harper appointment Peter Penashue was forced to resign his cabinet position and resign his seat in the Commons after being charged by Elections Canada with illegal campaign funding. His resignation was only a few months after another Harper cabinet minister, John Duncan, was forced to step down after admitting that he had lobbied a tax judge on behalf of a constituent.
“and another one gone”
Former Harper Cabinet Minister Bev Oda was forced to admit and apologize in the House of Commons to having lied about altering a government document in order to try to cover up a decision she had made. She was eventually ‘eased’ into retirement when her sense of expense entitlement was inching ever closer to Mike Duffy territory.
Likewise, MP Wally Butt was forced to apologize to Parliament for having lied to members in the Commons. Lying in Parliament is not considered a serious offense by Stephen Harper and Mr. Butt remains in the Conservative caucus.
“another one bites the dust”
While they haven’t been forced from cabinet there are others in the inner circle who have also demonstrated questionable ethics in office after being appointed to their positions by Stephen Harper. Cabinet Minister Peter Mckay used government aircraft to go on a personal fishing trip. John Baird , Harper’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, took six of his friends on vacation to England where they stayed at reduced cost in the Ambassador’s residence and, of course, Treasury Board President Tony Clement wallpapered his riding with $50 million taken unceremoniously from the border security budget. “Are you happy, are you satisfied
“Are you happy, are you satisfied – How long can you stand the heat”
I would mention Michael Soma, the conservative election staffer facing criminal charges for violation of the elections act in the Robocall scandal but technically, he isn’t a Harper appointment. Harper merely appointed whoever hired Soma.
Harper’s appointment of Justice Nadon to the Supreme Court was dubious at best and served only to embarrass the judge and the government when the appointment was ruled ineligible by the court. And there you have it; dubious appointments, four police investigations surrounding appointments made by Stephen Harper and a number of resignations for behaviour that while not criminal was clearly less than ethical.
It’s been a revolving door of appointments based on what increasingly appears to be either a poor judge of character at best or a cynical disregard for ethics at worst. Either way, it doesn’t fill one with much confidence and even though I will be criticized for picking on Stephen Harper I’m not really. I think it’s a legitimate question to ask whether or not this prime minister is a very good judge of character. Why is that important? It’s important because if he is a poor judge of the character of those he knows, how can we trust his judgment of the character of those he doesn’t know – like, say, Vladimir Putin of Russia?
Getting it wrong with those he appoints to serve him may provide some inconvenience, a few criminal charges and resignations here and there. It may even cause the defeat of his government in some future election – but getting it wrong on the international stage can have serious consequences for the entire country. Unlike staff members and political appointments, international leaders are less inclined and definitely less willing to be thrown under whatever bus Stephen Harper is driving when dealing with major issues. It’s clear that western leaders, including Stephen Harper, misjudged Putin’s resolve in Crimea and that hasn’t served either Ukraine or the rest of the world very well. It would seem to be the same lack of judgment he has brought to too many of his political appointments and that, my friends, should be of concern to every Canadian regardless of political ideology.
© 2014 Maggie’s Bear
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