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  (JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

 

(JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

GARY MASON

We’re not all hanging on every sordid word about the Senate Add to ...

Watching events in Ottawa unfold from afar, where one isn’t caught up in decrypting the impact of each punch and counterpunch, one can’t help but feel an enormous amount of sympathy.

Not for any of the actors involved in the depressing melodrama being played out in the Senate and House of Commons, but rather for the poor people who pay their wages: everyday Canadians.

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Fact is, very few of those who make up this wonderful country, who bring it to life each day and put it to bed at night, are tuned in to what’s taking place on Parliament Hill. They’re too busy seeing that this country actually works each day; making sure that buildings get built, coffee gets sold, mortgages get signed, floors and washrooms get cleaned.

It isn’t glamorous labour, but, then, someone has to do it.

Meantime, people with sinecures that most of the population can only dream about argue about housing allowances, expense reports and the fate of their bloated, taxpayer-funded salaries. Meantime, most Canadians plod along, making a fraction of what the people in Ottawa do and enjoying none of their perks.

Expense reports? What are those?

What’s particular galling about the whole sordid affair is that it revolves around the activities of an institution generally regarded as useless.

Sure, there are some fine people who do their best to make a contribution that justifies their enviable appointments. But that doesn’t take away the fact that in its current form, the Senate fails to play a vital role in our democracy. The country could function just fine without it. But the political class won’t hear of demolishing it or reforming it in any meaningful way. The working class keeps paying for it – and getting nothing in return.

The Senate scandal is playing out on the backs of the poor folks who finance the institution’s operations. That’s unconscionable. Maybe it’s a good thing that the restaurant workers, pipefitters and taxi drivers who underwrite the wages and benefits of those caught up in this controversy don’t have time in their days to plug in to what’s going on. To listen to the pitiful, self-serving statements, the weaselly prevarication, the righteous indignation. The cringe-inducing pompousness.

Actually, I’m not sure most Canadians would understand it because the language being spoken in the capital these days is not a language most Canadians speak or comprehend.

Eventually, of course, it will be Canadians who offer a verdict on all of this. Most aren’t paying attention to the apocalyptic predictions and the forecasts that the Senate imbroglio will be the end of Stephen Harper’s reign as Prime Minister.

Certainly, it will be if it’s discovered that Mr. Harper lied to Parliament about his involvement. But, then, it wouldn’t be the Canadian public making the decision on his fate – it would be his own party. The Prime Minister would have no choice but resign. But barring that kind of development, this controversy may not mortally wound the Conservatives in the way many are suggesting.

Regrettably, the masses have come to expect this kind of behaviour from our politicians of all party stripes. They know that getting upset about it seldom changes anything. So they may scan the headlines and catch the highlights on television, then get on with their lives.

When it’s time to pass judgment, they will act in their own self-interest. It’s a skill they acquired from politicians themselves.

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