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Let Them Eat Warm Camembert

No one understands my ills, nor the terror that fills my breast
Marie Antoinette


I come before you today, my friends, with heavy heart weighed down by yet more political scandal. Canada’s Auditor General has gone rogue. He is out of control and is now victimizing the esteemed members of our Senate in his audit of their expense accounts.

The temerity of it borders on bureaucratic anarchy. Imagine what might happen to the nation if this man and his gang of auditor-thugs started examining all aspects of government spending. Why it would be virtually impossible to get a former bag man or political operative to accept an appointment to the Canadian Senate Retirement Home for a paltry $138,000 a year plus housing allowance and travel expenses.

Does the man have no conscience? Does he not realize that senators are required to actually sit in the Senate for weeks every year? Why some of them even squeeze in appearances at various committees in between jaunts and trips to the far flung corners of this great nation.

One such senator, Mme Nancy Ruth is from Toronto and she must endure the torture of a fifty-five minute flight between her home in that city and her seat in the Senate on a regular basis. She is incensed – and with good reason – that the Auditor General has questioned why she would charge Canadians for a breakfast when the flight includes a breakfast as part of the airfare Canadians pay to provide.

She is a very important and busy senator and it is unthinkable to expect her to prepare her own breakfast before leaving to catch her flight. It is even more absurd that the Auditor General or indeed anyone would expect her to eat airline food.

As she put it, “If you want ice-cold Camembert with broken crackers, have it.”

I sympathize with the good senator. I don’t much care for Camembert myself but I can attest to the fact that ice-cold Cheez Whiz on broken Ritz crackers is no picnic.

Other senators are questioning the constitutionality of Canada’s Auditor General having the nerve to audit their expense accounts. I empathize. My search of the Canadian Constitution and the British North America Act did not turn up any authority granted to the AG to audit senators but then, I’m not a constitutional authority. I’m quite certain our senators are more than well-acquainted with the rights and privileges accorded to members of the upper chamber which allows them to conduct themselves without interference from commoners.

The simple fact is that the Senate, Canada’s upper house, its Red Chamber has grown used to the privilege of high office and the Auditor General clearly lacks any understanding of how important privilege is to old and tired former political hacks. How else can our politicians reward those who have served them so well in the past other than with a proper breakfast and expenses that have up until now, been accepted on the honour system.

Why – are they not called honourable senators? How dare this bean counter, this minion of the bureaucracy impugn their reputations and encroach on the privileges of high office! The fact that senator Wilfred Lavigne has already been convicted of breach of trust and fraud and that three more; Senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Mack Harb are currently facing criminal charges for the same thing has nothing to do with anything. Nor does the ongoing police investigation into Senator Pamela Wallin’s expenses.

They were aberrations, a blight on the honour and dignity of the chamber made no less by the letters sent by the Auditor General to more than forty senators demanding explanations about expenses they had submitted – and the audit is only half completed.

This assault on the integrity and dignity of senators has caused much consternation among those to the manor raised and I know that most Canadians share their pain – especially those of us who have eaten food served on an Air Canada flight.

I think the senators are being much maligned. They are as close to real nobility as we have in this country and we should show them the respect they so richly deserve. They are like Marie Antoinette who was sorely abused by the people of France. Surely we don’t want our noble senators so mistreated and so to all of my fellow citizens I say; Let them eat  warm Camembert on elegant unbroken crackers.

It’s the very least we can do to thank honourable Senators for their service to our nation.


© 2015 Maggie’s Bear

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Twitter: @maggsbear – Facebook: Maggie’s Bear  – ivmaki@sympatico.ca


  • Frances

    It’s not that the honourable Senator disliked the airline food; it’s that she billed for a breakfast she did not eat and for which – obviously – she had no receipts. As one whose daily work involves keeping clients “clean” so CRA won’t come knocking (or, if they do, won’t find anything amiss), I have limited sympathy. Indeed, I would go so far as to suggest some of the nastier CRA auditors should be conducting this probe.

    That being said, there does need to be a serious discussion as to the proper role of a senator, as opposed to sitting in the chamber of “sober second thought”. Should part of a senator’s duties include flying around the country speaking to various groups, or should they be confined to travelling to their ‘home’ provinces’? I have been privileged to hear Senator Anne Cools speak, but my province is far from her “home” terrotory of Ontario, and I doubt she’ll venture my way again unless there are some intelligent rules about where a senator can travel to speak on topics he/she is espousing.

    • MaggiesBear

      It’s a nickle and dime issue but the issue is that she submitted a claim for a breakfast. Whether or not she ate it or had a receipt is secondary to the fact that she wasn’t entitled to it. As I noted below, it isn’t the amount of money — it’s the attitude of too many in high office. They spend the money of others as if it was their own and they were entitled to it. It isn’t and they’re not. It’s that simple.

      The CRA only audits for taxes. The Senate audit is being conducted by the Office of the Auditor General which I trust far more than I do CRA.

  • charlie98

    The suggestion that airline food is breakfast must be an attempt at an April Fools joke.

    My last airline flights — over 3 hours — were notable for no food including no snacks. Does the auditor travel in first class and think that everyone gets fed?

    • MaggiesBear

      It depends on what time you fly and whether or not you fly economy or business class. Personally, I can’t stand airline food. It makes MacDonalds look like a four-star restaurant but we’re talking about a 55 minute flight from Ottawa to Toronto. It’s hardly an unbearable hardship to feed yourself before you go to the airport.