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Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with Government Leader in the Senate Marjory LeBreton after delivering a speech during a Conservative caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 21, 2013. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with Government Leader in the Senate Marjory LeBreton after delivering a speech during a Conservative caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 21, 2013. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Globe editorial: First Take

Note to politicians: Stop blaming the media for your problems Add to ...

Canadian conservatives, be they mayors, MPs or senators, need to stop blaming alleged media bias for their troubles when scandals arise. In Toronto, Mayor Rob Ford and his brother Doug both claim that reports of a video showing the mayor inhaling from what appears to be a crack pipe are an attempt by a left-of-centre newspaper to undermine him. In Ottawa, Senator Marjory LeBreton claimed in a speech on Wednesday that allegations of spending abuses by her colleagues were “hyped-up media stories” that were inevitable in a “town populated by Liberal elites and their media lickspittles.” These are bitter and easily disproved claims, and they are an insult to Canadians.

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Ms. LeBreton, the government leader in the Senate, should remember that Prime Minister Stephen Harper himself has said he is “not happy” “and “very upset” that his former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, cut a $90,000 personal check to bail out Mike Duffy, a senator appointed by Mr. Harper whose housing and travel expense claims had been invalidated. That alone disproves any claim that the media’s focus on this story, and on the questionable expenses of other senators – the majority of whom are Conservative appointments, but there is one Liberal – is “hyped-up”. These are serious stories that go to the heart of democracy, public accountability and the separation of the legislative and executive sides of our government.

Ms. LeBreton should also remember that it is conservatives – big C and small – who are likely the most angry about the actions of members of a government they elected to bring accountability to Ottawa. It is not just political foes, elite or otherwise, who want answers.

As for Rob Ford, his consistent refusal to talk to reporters about the allegations of his video-recorded drug abuse, and his pathological insistence that he is an innocent man in the crosshairs of a liberal newspaper, have gone past inane and have begun to damage the city. Toronto is facing its most serious governance crisis in memory, and the chief magistrate believes everyone but himself is to blame.

Canadians want accountability and transparency from their government representatives. They expect parliamentarians to take responsibility and show leadership, not invent enemies and make self-serving claims of victimhood. Unfortunately, this is happening more and more in Canada. Patriotism is being replaced by unsupported allegations of media bias as the go-to refuge from responsibility. It is behaviour that should be beneath public figures in this country.

 

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