This is the Life: Politics never fails to entertain

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I’m a little disappointed. Last week I thought I would seize the moment and line my own pocket with a little of Nigel Wright’s largesse. My Facebook plea has fallen on deaf ears, ignored despite the fact that I am a journalist who isn’t exactly rolling in dough. Mine or anyone else’s.

It’s been a pretty darn good few weeks for politics watchers. Even the early news that several senators were in hot water because they declared living expenses for staying in Ottawa even though they actually live there. But it got a lot better when we learned that two were former television journalists, both high profile appointees by the prime minister. Journalists aren’t exactly the most beloved folks among the general populace but they are downright loathed by Stephen Harper, whose disdain is proven by his lack of interaction with them. No media scrums, regular press conferences or easy interview access to these lowlifes.

But Harper does like the staff in the Prime Minister’s Office. They are handpicked for their enthusiasm for his political bent and they form the largest group in Canadian history. So when the story broke that Harper’s right-hand man had written out a personal cheque for $90,000 to cover Senator Mike Duffy’s amount owed, I thought, oh-oh, this all looks too good to be true. Harper doesn’t like the Senate as it currently exists, being an old-time Reform Party member, which was a proponent of a Triple E Senate (Elected, Effective and Eckersley?). And he doesn’t like the media. As bad as the whole scene looks, it still appears to me like a double bonus for the prime minister. Senators? Wham! Journalists? Bam! Moving the spotlight on his many anti-democratic and cynical political ideas? Thank you, ma’am!

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum, or whatever vital trade partner Harper was off to schmooze last week, convenient just as the Nigel Wright-Mike Duffy sneak deal was coming to light. Canadians seemed almost, not quite but almost, ready to get indignant. The Senate is even less popular with the average citizen than it is with Harper, but the utter stupidity of this completely out of touch coterie of clowns has taken hold with the Canadian versions of Joe the Plumber — Ernie the Unemployed, Rhonda the Retired and Horace the Homeless. Callers to Sunday’s Cross Canada Screw-up on CBC were a blend of high dudgeon and deep disappointment.

Me? I’m a guy who loves a political train wreck and this is a wreck of the highest proportions, at least for Canada. Senators without ethics, political appointees without judgment, a prime minister who can’t even sound emotional when he is angry (his declaration had all the sincerity of his apology to First Nations people several years ago). This is good stuff, much better than lukewarm discussions about things like omnibus bills, cutting corporate taxes and even that old Harper favourite, “accountability and transparency”.

Then, just when Canadian political watchers thought it couldn’t get any better, along comes the accusation that Rob Ford, a.k.a. the Train Wreck of Toronto, has been captured on video smoking crack cocaine. Following Harper’s lead, he dumped his own top advisor, then immediately and uncharacteristically got very, very quiet. One could picture him sitting in his darkened basement, hands over his ears, eyes tightly closed, trying to convince himself that this latest in a string of scandals will just go away.

Then, finally, in a scene evokeing the glory days of SCTV, Rob and Doug MacKenzie, a.k.a. Ford, turned that basement into a radio studio and went into full denial mode, except for their insistence on using Clinton-speak, like when a caller asked if he really was smoking crack on that video. First of all, said Mayor Rob, whose famous backyard summer barbecues are attended by his pal the prime minister, the video doesn’t exist so I can’t comment on it.

Now, Nigel, about that cheque…

Lorne Eckersley is the publisher of the Creston Valley Advance.