Friday, June 09, 2006

Point/counterpoints in glass houses

Two stories in the news today that remind me that no matter how much people like to talk about doing politics differently and being accountable, politics is still politics and politicians are still politicians.

The First story is a CP wire piece that suggests at least eight of the 11 Liberal leadership candidates have used their MPs' offices on Parliament hill to distribute partisan campaign material. Given that eight candidates are sitting MPs, I guess that means all of the MPs. I'm shocked, I say, shocked, to learn there's gambling in this establishment!

For the record I don't support the use of taxpayer-funded resources for partisan political activities. It shouldn't happen, and if candidates are doing it they should stop it.

I also said the same thing when Tory MP Brian Pallister took his taxpayer-funded staff along with him as he toured Manitoba seeing if they wanted him as their next provincial Conservative leader, just days after he was re-elected in January. I said the same thing during the election, when my then local Conservative MP sent out a taxpayer-funded mailer weeks into the campaign. And I have said the same thing over the last few years when, while living in BC, Jack Layton regularly used his franking privileges to send me notes about how badly the Conservatives and Liberals sucked and the NDP rules. Our Conservative-held riding was targeted as winnable by the NDP and they peppered us with franked mailings, and it worked: with enough votes lent the new MP is the NDP's Catherine Bell.

My point is no one should do this kind of thing, and it should stop, but remember that EVERYONE does it before staking out the morale high-ground, my Blogging Tory friends.

The Second story is the expulsion of Senator Raymond Lavigne from the Liberal caucus over allegations he misused taxpayer resources for personal activities. This guy sounds like a real piece of work, and while he's innocent until proven guilty I'm glad he's been expelled from caucus and I hope, if he is found guilty as justice takes its course, he'll be booted from the Senate altogether.

At least the Liberals kicked him out of caucus though. You know who is facing similar, as yet unproven but equally disgusting, allegations however? Conservative MP Rob Anders. A former employee alleges in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit that Anders repaid personal loans the staffer made to him by raising his salary, among other things.

What's more, and this related back to the first story too, the lawsuit alleges "Certain of Anders staff worked full-time on the Stephen Harper campaign while being paid a salary from the House of Commons."

Unproven, but deeply troubling charges that should be investigated. And last I checked Rob Anders was still a member of the Conservative caucus.

Again, the point is no one should he so quick to climb up on their high horses and seize the morale high ground without cleaning up the manure in their own stables.

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The Rat said...

I might point one eensy teensy difference: Lavigne was investigated by the Senate and he has admitted his wrong-doing. Anders is accused by an ex-staffer who left on unhappy terms. I don't like Anders, but drawing parallels between him and Lavigne is one hell of a stretch. Almost desperate.

A BCer in Toronto said...

I don't know about that. Are the two cases exactly the same? No. But the allegations against both are quite similar: abuse of taxpayer dollars.

Anders is the subject of a civil suit, and the allegations merit being investigated further by the HoC and the RCMP. The allegation that Anders staffers worked on Harper's leadership campaign f/t while being paid by the taxpaers is particularly troubling.

With Lavigne, the internal investigation raised enough troubling allegations the matter was turned over to the RCMP and he was booted from caucus.

Both accused of misuse of taxpayer resources. Both are or should be facing RCMP investigation. One has been booted from his caucus. One remains in his caucus.