Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Response to an image of entitlement

In a recent Huffington Post article, Eric Grenier questions whether 2013 will “be remembered as the beginning of the end of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.”

Grenier complains that the Conservatives are creating an “image of entitlement” through the scandals of Peter Penashue, Dean del Mastro, Rob Ford, and the ongoing Senate expense debate.

Unfortunately, Grenier disproves his complaint in his very list of “scandals.”

Peter Penashue resigned as an MP altogether – not just from Conservative caucus - when it was revealed his campaign accepted ineligible donations.  Voters elected a Liberal MP instead.

Dean Del Mastro resigned from the Conservative caucus amid 2008 campaign over-spending allegations and says he is looking forward to addressing Elections Canada’s allegations.

According to Grenier, Rob Ford’s antics as Toronto Mayor somehow reflect poorly on the federal Conservative government because of their “relative silence” over Ford’s drug use.

The ongoing Senate expense debate is one that involves several players and both parties represented in the Senate.  However, both Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy – the most publicized of those involved – have both been severely punished.  Wright resigned from his position and is being investigated by the RCMP; Duffy was booted from the Conservative caucus and is also being investigated by the RCMP.  Unfortunately, Grenier leaves out that the only Senator to resign amid this debate is Liberal Senator Mac Harb, who took over $231,000 in ineligible expense claims from Canadian taxpayers, or more than double Duffy’s housing claims.

So what is the Conservative record for entitlement? Well, quite simply: when you break the rules, you pay the price.  These individuals’ alleged wrongdoing – and it is only alleged – was swiftly met with censure and punishment.  This is not inconsistent with what Prime Minster Harper has been saying all along, both in the House of Commons and to media reporters.

How a culture of entitlement could exist when such a culture is quickly punished and quashed is a paradox.  Grenier proves this in his own list of Conservative “scandals,” yet forgets to name the punishments.