Eau de Scandal

Irrespective of what you may think about the funding decision at the heart of this latest “scandal” involving Stephen Harper’s embarrassingly dimwitted International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda, she should either voluntarily resign or be forced to step down.

There’s no excuse for falsifying documents and then lying about it in the House of Commons. It’s really just as simple as that.



Filed under Bonehead of the Week, HARPER Government of Canada

28 responses to “Eau de Scandal

  1. Moebius

    Whether you agree the funding should be denied or not, the real issue is the cover-up.

    Are politicians so insulated from reality that they don’t understand that lying is wrong? In this case, it appears to be totally unnecessary as well.

    How can she be trusted by anyone now?

    BTW, good to see you back.

  2. Thanks.

    Yep, I totally agree. I’m not “outraged” or anything, and it has nothing to do with her politics.

    To me it’s a very straightforward matter. Her behaviour was unethical and indefensible. She needs to go. Period.

  3. Gayle

    He won’t fire her now. He’s been defending her. Firing her would be an admission he was wrong, and he doesn’t do that. If she goes they will say it is for an entirely different reason.

  4. There’s no excuse for falsifying documents and then lying about it in the House of Commons.

    I think being a Harperoid cabinet minister is a pretty bloody good excuse. Is a better one even conceivable?

  5. Gayle: You could well be right and that would be a shame because the wrongdoing here is so clearly evident. I don’t see what Harper has to gain by defending a proven liar. I think he’d actually win more respect by dealing swiftly and harshly with the matter. But that’s just me being naïve, I guess.

  6. Gayle

    I agree with you RT, but he lost his chance to do that when he got up in the House today and defended her. Now if he wants to get rid he will have to do some by creating some other excuse. Perhaps he can see if the RCMP have some sort of lame investigation they can do on her.

  7. We seem to be missing the obvious here.

    Oda almost certainly acted on the PMO’s instructions. There’s nothing for Harper to be shocked (shocked!) about in this: he’s the one who made Oda a liar, and following the boss’ orders is hardly a firing offence. She’s not going anywhere.

    The precedent was set last summer, during an identical fiasco. Tony Clement was caught in a lie during the long-form debacle, when he claimed (falsely) that the change he mandated had actually been proposed by high-level StatsCan bureaucrats. Clement’s bullshit didn’t hurt him, and Oda’s wont hurt her: they are both loyal useful idiots, and Harper’s machine runs on such idiots like a skid-row barfly runs on Wild Turkey and stale pretzels.

  8. Silly me. There I was thinking that government ministers act independently. I must have lost my head there for a moment. Yes, of course, you’re undoubtedly right that Oda was just a dopey cipher for the PM, like all of the feeble puppets that comprise his cabinet.

  9. Clement’s bullshit didn’t hurt him, and Oda’s wont hurt her: they are both loyal useful idiots, and Harper’s machine runs on such idiots like a skid-row barfly runs on Wild Turkey and stale pretzels.

    Although this is appreciated, I’m not sure about the implied line you’re drawing between Harper’s idiots and skid-row barflies.

  10. Shiner:

    The line drawn was between Harper’s idiots and Wild Turkey and pretzels, actually.

    As for the barflies…yes, they probably do deserve better than to be linked to the PMO. I’ve met many interesting and honest skid-row barflies, while I’m quite sure all the interesting and honest operatives in Harper’s PMO could stand together on the upper left quadrant of a pubic louse’s coffee table.

  11. Apparently one of them isn’t taking kindly to us talking about Wild Turkey and pretzels Sir Francis. Thumbs down all around!

  12. Remember “the Tainted Tuna Scandal” of 1985 ?

    The Minister actually resigned. He took responsibility for his bad decisions. As it turned-out, the Tuna never made anyone ill – but John Fraser resigned anyway.

    When politicians of the 1980’s seem positively moral and ethical in comparison to today, you KNOW we have real problems as a Nation and Culture.

    Good Day.

  13. TofKW

    Wow Aeneas, and I thought I was the only one that remembered ‘Tuna-gate’.

    While we’re strolling down memory lane, does anyone remember when Defense Minister Robert Coates was forced to resign after visiting a strip club in West Germany? Some similarities with Mad Max’s situation; except that unlike Bernier, Coates was a bright and capable minister (regardless of his lapse of judgment here). At least he did the honorable thing and resigned on his own, then went on to quit politics all together.

    I admit I hold a number of sympathies for the Mulroney administration (the last government I could recognize who were maintaining some Tory traditions – and probably due to the lapse of time) and this would be contrary to the views held by the majority of Canadians. However there is no doubt in my mind that Mulroney and his Ministers were paragons of virtue and integrity compared to the asshats that currently sit within Harper’s cabinet.

  14. jkg

    That was a problem with the Mulroney government: It was so scandal ridden, that it resulted in an average resignation of a minister or official for every year the government reigned. Still, that resignation streak was because they were willing to do so, even if nothing came of it. Jane Stewart, nonetheless, did not resign when HDRC scandal broke. It took Paul Martin to relegate here to the backbenches. So, I don’t know. Is there a spectrum that you can evaluate these things? I think the principal of Ministerial Responsibility should be applied more, but when is it appropriate for a PM to stand by their minister?

    I am asking this question in general. It is quite clear the Harper government is just simply reactionary and incompetent due to Stephen Harper keeping an ecosystem in which no particular niche can thrive other than his own and ensures a centralized control over his vast number of ministers and secretaries.

  15. I remember Tuna-Gate. Man, we are certainly aging ourselves here.

  16. TofKW

    Tell me about it. Reminiscing about ministerial resignations from a quarter century in the past. Or does this place us into an elite segment of political geekdom?

  17. hitfan

    I’m a bit young, but back in the 1980s I remember when it was considered cool to hate Mulroney and he was considered evil incarnate. I’m agnostic about Mulroney, I think he does deserve respect and I give him the benefit of the doubt for his sincerity in trying to obtain Quebec’s signature on the Constitution (which isn’t legally needed anyway). The Schreiber/Airbus affair is an unfortunate black mark against his character, but he still deserves a state funeral when the time comes.

    This Bev Oda scandal is a comedy of errors. I attribute it more a case of laziness than actual malice. It was probably easier to laughably inscribe the word “NOT” to modify the document, than to have to type a whole new one in rejecting the funding recommendation.

    Now, it’s devolved into a case of “let’s cover our asses”.

    Harper doesn’t want to fire Oda because she won a seat in Nunavut which was considered safe for the Liberals. Firing her would mean that the Conservatives would lose there next time.

    This scandal is not one that will bring down the government. People will not care about this in a few weeks, anyway.

  18. hitfan

    Oops, Oda is not the MP for Nunavut. I used to think I knew everything.

    My enemies here can take heart that I’m eating crow for my faux pas.

  19. TofKW

    Hitfan, again I’ll re-state by bias towards Mulroney, I was a young and enthusiastic Tory back in those days. He is to date the only PM I’ve personally met, and from my experience he is a very amiable fellow. Unlike all I’ve heard about Harper, Mulroney is genuinely personable and interested in the well-being of those who work for him. This is the reason why so many old staffers remain loyal, regardless of Airbus, Karlheinz Schreiber and envelopes stuffed with cash.

    Having said this there are indeed many old policies I now disagree with, the original FTA among them. I consoled myself in those days that the agreement was necessary to ensure trade continued without US protectionism devastating entire industries, all at the whim of well connected lobbyists. However we now know that regardless of any agreement, the US will do so anyhow. Now all we have to show for it was the historical footnote that the PCs out-Liberaled the Liberals, and became even bigger free-trading laissez-faire continentalists than the Grits ever dared to. And of course now this has become the raison d’etre of the new-right.

    There are other Mulroney policies I disagree with, however on the ‘plus’ side, these are the legacies for which I believe the man served us well as PM:
    ~ Acid-rain treaty with the US, regardless of the Congress and Senate being against the measure.
    ~ In addition to the above, Mulroney brought about several important pieces of environmental legislation, and is the Greenest PM in Canadian history (really!)
    ~ Hard stand against Apartheid, versus complete acceptance on the part of the US and the UK.
    ~ Strong and unbiased partner in middle-east peace talks. Canada’s (then good) reputation put us above our weight-class here.
    ~ Meech and the Charlottetown accord. Yes I know this was one of the things that ended up ripping apart the PC party, and Canada itself for that matter. However Mulroney was working off an honest desire to put Quebec’s signature on the constitution. Regardless of the political firestorm, he was following what was right in his heart. Harper on the other hand, maybe approaches this level of passion on the elimination of the LGR …Yippee! There’s one for the history books.
    ~ The GST. Yes I’m serious. This was the right tax, just that it was introduced at the wrong time. And regardless of what people think it is infinitely better than the job-stifling Manufacturers Sales Tax it replaced. I also credit the Liberals for growing up on this issue, and now supporting the GST/HST.

    So in short I’m torn between the policies which make me proud, and those which cheapened the office of PM and tarnished politics in this country for years; probably for generations yet to come. For that matter I am torn on Chretien’s legacy as well. Again plenty that pissed me off, but then he kept us from joining the coalition of the stupid in Iraq. However regardless of the negatives – both these ex-PM’s are giants compared to frat-boy Harper. This Oda-thing is just the latest event that shows how the man lacks any ethical bone in his body. Outright lies in Parliament are not only accepted, but defended …and the voters just won’t care, and Harper can count on that. There are so many shades of wrong here I don’t even know where to begin.

  20. TofKW:

    Mulroney’s anti-Apartheid stance was indeed his finest foreign-policy hour, as it had been Dief’s. Can you even imagine Harper doing something similar?

  21. Can you imagine Rob Anders as High Commissioner to the Republic of South Africa ?!

  22. TofKW … I was heavily inovlved with the Young and Campus PCs in the 1980s as well, but began to have doubt around 1988 and FTA. When I saw what happened in Q1-2 1990 in Ontario I became cocksure that it was wrong for this Dominion. This, after being somewhat of a devotee of Margaret Thatcher to 1986. I came to the realisation the her prescriptions while perhaps a necessary tonic for the United Kingdom at the time, were not applicable to Canada. Around 1986, I started to seriously question the primacy of ideology in modern politics – especially after a careful reading of Hooker, Burke, Grant and a thorough examination of the lives of Disraeli and Churchill.

    I too have met Mulroney and many other Cabinet Ministers and Senators back in the day. The ONLY ones who impressed me greatly were Macdonald, Beatty, Atkins, and the Right Honourable Joe Clark, PC, MP.

    When we entered into NAFTA, I left the party.

  23. TofKW

    Seems we have a bit in common Aeneas, indeed it was from my campus involvement that I met the PM. I also had the pleasure with the R.H. Mr Clark, though it was after his days as foreign minister. I failed to renew my membership in 1994, it was a difficult year for me personally. Support for NAFTA keeps me from joining any party now, though I did continue to vote PC until they were taken over.

    I’m one of these undecideds now, though I most definitely decided I will not vote CPC with Harper leading it. Harper’s CPC consists of all the shape-shifting and deceitfulness seen in the dirtiest of past Liberal governments, coupled with exceptionally stupid public policy decisions. And no I’m not saying the Liberals would do a better job in government …because at this point Daffy Duck as PM could do a better job.

  24. TofKW:

    I was an Orchard delegate at the convention in ’03, so I was there, clinging to the stern, as the P.C. Party ship went down.

    I attended a leadership debate during which Peter Mackay uttered the words, “This is not the party of John A. Macdonald”. Whether he was momentarily confused or endorsing a shift away from basic party principles, truer words had rarely been spoken.

  25. Roland

    I hate Mulroney for the FTA. Thanks to him, Canada’s economy is now as dependent on raw material exports as it was a century ago.

    I hate the GST, too, and I don’t give a damn how much neoliberal economists hump Mulroney’s leg on that account.

    Mulroney’s constitutional “dice-rolling” nearly broke apart the country.

    Despite his huge majorities, Mulroney was never brave enough to get the long-run fiscal situation under control.

    Of course, he basically destroyed the Progressive Conservative Party. Mulroney was the man who made Harper’s career possible.

    And don’t forget the nice brown paper bags stuffed with high-denomination bills. Don’t forget the multi-million mansion in Westmount that his grateful pals in business chipped in to buy him when he left office–for services rendered!

    If you must have nostalgia for Tory leaders, save it for Dief, Stanfield, or Clark. Hell, save it for Borden or Meighen.

    But not Mulroney. Never Mulroney.

  26. Donald MacDonald (of the MacDonald Commission that advocated FTA) was appointed by Trudeau to head the Royal Commission and was a Liberal.


    Chretien could have abrogated NAFTA at any time; he chose to not do so, as Free Trade lay at the heart of the Liberal Party.

    Mulroney sold out Sir John A., but the Liberals got their dream at the same time. Neither part has really been the same since. Canada … has lost, however.

  27. Roland

    The Chretien/Martin regime, that oddly functional chimaera, was about as neoliberal a gov’t as Mulroney’s.

    I have plenty of issues with Trudeau as well; don’t get me started.

    But even if Chretien/Martin hadn’t been neoliberals, the early ’90’s would have been a bad time to try to abrogate the FTA. By ’93, our deficits were too huge, our bonds were too vulnerable, to risk antagonizing foreign investors or the D’Aquino-type corrosive elements at home. The neoliberals’ timing couldn’t have been better. They had us over a barrel, and they made the most of it. Canadians’ last chance was in fateful ’88.

    Could Canada have bucked the post-1989 worldwide stampede towards globally integrated and centralized capitalism? We’ll never know. But at least the “Bo-Bo’s” are in their little end-of-history paradise, until we all decide to do a Tahrir Square.

    Disclaimer: My nationalism is not a partisan matter for me. These have been lean hungry melancholy years for a Canadian nationalist. Please note that hosting Olympic Games, or randomly torturing people in Kandahar, are NOT acceptable substitutes for my country’s real independence.

  28. The FTA was a sensible arrangement — the NAFTA… a truly horrible idea.

    Give Harper some credit in his bilateral “North American Security Perimeter” discussions for basically relegating Mexico to a second tier status.

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