Duffy Trial Day 9: Reputation Managers Needed
There was yet another revelation in the Duffy trial yesterday (the hits just keep on coming, don’t they?). Added to the expense for make-up and for a personal trainer was an additional of $500 for – get ready for it – reputation management.
Apparently the Old Duff was somewhat miffed by some of the negative comments about him online so he hired a reputation manager to advise him on what to do about it. Clearly it never occurred to him that a better and cheaper way to improve his reputation might be to elevate his ethical standards.
The irony is that while Senator Duffer-do was concerned about damages to his reputation, he only valued it at $500.
Maggie can drop more than that on shoes in a weekend and I can spend that much at my favourite Chinese restaurant – the Yangtze – in one sitting. (I am particularly fond of their steamed chicken fillets with Chinese mushrooms, by the way).
If nothing else, this trial is opening the kimono to reveal just how cheap the political class has become in this country.
And it is cheap – so cheap, in fact, that $500 won’t be enough to even begin to defend the reputations of many in Parliament.
The entire Senate Expense Scandal barely rises to the level of scandal. It is so penny ante that comparing it to a true scandal is like comparing shoplifting to the $5.4 million jewelry heist in the Paris Tunnel last week.
Liberal Senator Mack Harb, who is also charged with fraud at least showed some creativity.
He had been an Ottawa councillor and resident of Ottawa for years. When he was appointed to the Senate, he is alleged to have purchased a house near Pembroke which is just over the 100 km limit required to qualify for a housing allowance. He continued to live in Ottawa, of course, while he collected a tidy sum for his ‘primary residence’ in Pembroke. It is further alleged that he then sold all but 1% ownership in the Pembroke residence to a woman who has since returned to China but he continued to collect his housing allowance because – well – he was still an owner if not a resident wasn’t he?
Now that shows some serious initiative.
Imagine yourself sitting in a room with other accused who are comparing their crimes. One says he is charged with multiple armed bank robberies, another admits to being an international jewel thief while a third reveals that he is corporate investment banker who bilked millions from unsuspecting investors. Then they turn to you and ask what you’re charged with and you reply, “I’m charged with using $300 of taxpayers’ money to hire a makeup artist.” You could almost see the other crooks blush for you.
It’s just downright embarrassing.
If thy’re going to steal from us – they should go big or stay home. If we have to go to all the bother and expense of having some of them investigated, charged and tried; the least they could do is make it worth our while. Give us a scandal that elevates all of us, including them rather than dragging us down to scrabbling over nickels and dimes. It just cheapens us all and takes the RCMP away from their regular duties tazering people and kicking in doors to confiscate legally-owned firarms.
Bernie Madoff stole hundreds of millions, if not billions, over a couple of decades. His sudden admission that it was all just one glorious Ponzi scheme was so awe-inspiring that it became world-wide news. Martin Scorsese made The Wolf of Wall Street (and even got Leonard DiCaprio to appear in it) to catalogue the crimes of investment broker Jordan Belfort.
That was a lack of ethics and criminality that deserved to be elevated to an art form. But this trial and the broader Senate Expense thingy – hmm – not so much. Even the CBC won’t be making a TV movie about this and they’ll pretty much spend our money to film the mating habits of seals and polar bears.
The Senate scandal is cheap. It’s tawdry and it diminishes Canada as a nation. It has more in common with pilfering than robbery. Where’s the glamour in that? Taxpayers deserve better, we are paying for everything after all. We pay for their salaries, their staff, their travel and entitlement expenses and we pay for the audits, the investigations and trials that follow.
Surely to God we are entitled to something just a touch more than this sad little affair?
Some tried to make this grander than it is turning out to be, of course, but it was to no avail. In the end, it was just a lot of ruffled feathers and sanctimonious clucking in the Senate chicken coop combined with amateur hour in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Quite frankly, I don’t know which is more embarrassing to me as a Canadian: the piddly amounts honourable Senators steal from us or the hysteria in the PMO. God alone knows what will happen if they ever have to face a real crisis.
Oliver Stone won an Academy award for Wall Street, his ode to greed on a grand scale, but the whole Duffy affair is little better than a high school play and not a very good one at that. The Mike Duffy trial is the ultimate insult; a daily reminder of just how pathetically sad our political class has become that it is reduced to stealing pennies to try and maintain its aura of importance and privilege.
France’s Dominique Straus-Kahn and Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi hired hookers and threw lavish sex orgies. Bunga! Bunga! Now those are scandals into which you can sink your teeth, scandals that make you almost feel proud to have been ripped-off. Even Bill Clinton managed to disgrace the Office of the President with just one intern and a couple of Cuban cigars.
Are we not as good as Americans or the French or the Italians? Do we not deserve more effort from our political class than whining about ice-cold Camembert and using taxpayers’ money to pay for personal trainers?
Our only hope is that our friends around the world don’t look on the Mike Duffy trial and the broader Senate Expense Scandal as representative of the best we can do here in the Great White North.
Our international reputation as a nation is at stake and we can’t afford to hire a raft of reputation managers to try and make us look more worldly .
Besides; if the Old Duff’s reputation manager is any indication, we probably don’t have too many that would be all that good at it.
Day 2: The Trial, Taxes and Semantics
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