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Please, make the scandals stop (The Canadian Press)

Please, make the scandals stop

(The Canadian Press)

MARGARET WENTE

Please, make the scandals stop Add to ...

Are you depressed about the quality of your civic leadership? Do you wake up some days and curse those people who elected the clowns, until you remember that those people include you? Are you wondering if there’s a chapter of Voters Anonymous where you can commiserate with others and swear you’ll never vote again? It doesn’t seem to matter who you vote for or how responsible you are. It always seems to end in grief.

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That’s how I’m feeling these days. I’ve overdosed on Senate scandals. I wish Toronto’s mayor would just go away. Lately, I’ve been lying on the couch with a hot toddy and moaning, “Please, make it stop.”

But it won’t make it stop. Nothing can make the mayor or the Senate go away.

Personally, I was hoping Rob Ford’s mom would stage an intervention. But I guess it didn’t happen. Obviously, he doesn’t listen to anybody else, not even his smarter brother Doug, who told the mayor on the radio that when he gets hammered, he should do it in the basement.

If Toronto City Council had some spine, it would unite to vote “no confidence” in Rob Ford and ignore him from here on. That wouldn’t get him out of office, but it might be therapeutic for voters. As it is, it seems he’s unlikely to be removed from office unless he’s actually marched off to jail. That’s not likely to happen – and certainly not before the next election.

Sadly, not even an election can rid us of the Senate. Getting rid of three or four or five bad eggs won’t make a difference either. Abolition is the only answer, but it’s a quagmire, so nobody will go there. Maybe their pay and perks could be reduced to a dollar a year. Unfortunately, that would require more vertebrae than exist in Ottawa.

Lately there’s been an awful lot of finger-wagging by people who want the mayor and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to say they’re sorry and come clean. It’s time for them to show humility! The public deserves the whole truth and nothing but!

This will happen when pigs grow wings. Humility and contrition are not in the DNA of these men. It’s their way or the highway. And as for the whole truth, you must be kidding. They can’t confess to that, because the whole truth is completely indefensible.

In the mayor’s case, it goes something like this: While in office, he has hung around with criminals who use and deal illegal drugs. He’s been really drunk in public a bunch of times. He denied the existence of a video that appears to show him smoking crack (or perhaps flavoured water). Last week, the police chief said that it does exist, the police have it, and it’s evidence in a wide-ranging criminal investigation. Mr. Ford had dozens of furtive meetings with his friend and occasional driver, with whom he is exceptionally close. These meetings involved the transfer of packages that contained drugs, or maybe Girl Guide cookies. The driver, who seems to have tried to get his hands on the crack video, has been arrested for extortion. And that’s just what we know so far.

Mr. Harper’s story is less lurid but more murky. His government was caught out over embarrassing expense claims made by high-profile Conservative Party members in the Senate. The party brass had already signed off on them. (After all, the Senate has operated that way forever.) But the public was outraged, so his chief of staff tried to make it look as though the miscreants had paid the money back, even though one of them hadn’t. That backfired and he quit. Mr. Harper then decided that the only way to squelch the scandal was to throw the rascals out. He figured – correctly, if you ask me – that most people don’t care about the details, or who knew what when, or whether Nigel Wright jumped or was pushed. They just want heads.

Mr. Harper isn’t addicted to anything except control. That’s what got him where he is today. And if he has to rewrite the truth to get it back, then that’s what he’ll do.

As for me, I’m going to join the League of Beleaguered Voters. There’s bound to be a chapter in my neighbourhood. And if not, I’m going to start one.

 

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