BASS: Senator Duffy exemplifies gluttony of political system

What’s the definition of irony?

How about a senator telling three provinces how they can save money by eliminating unnecessary levels of government?

That’s exactly what Mike Duffy, John Wallace and Stephen Greene did this week when they resurrected the idea of the Maritimes uniting to become one big province.

It must be noted each of the trio sits in the Red Chamber as a representative of that area.

Duffy sits as a Prince Edward Island senator (more on that later), Wallace for New Brunswick and Greene for Nova Scotia.

It’s a good thing their positions in the federal government aren’t elected because I’m betting, after this nonsense, they wouldn’t make it in a legitimate vote to choose representatives.

Why is this ironic?

It’s simple. If there is a bigger waste of money in our government, it’s the Senate.

It may claim to be the level that provides “sober second thought” but, given the partisanship and cronyism that led to each member getting their jobs there, that’s simply silly.

One need only watch any of the post-appointment Youtube videos Duffy has been featured in to realize he’s nothing more than a shill for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his gang.

Let’s look at Duffy a bit more.

First, when he was appointed in 2009, after a long career working for CTV, a lot of folks in the province where he was born questioned whether he really should be their representative.

After all, he’s spent more time living in his place near the Kanata Golf and Country Club on the outskirts of Ottawa than he has anywhere else.

But, while living there since before his appointment, apparently it’s OK for Duffy to collective a per diem — to the tune of $33,413 — when he goes home at the end of those few days he and his buddies are sitting and pondering the works of Harper et al.

Duffy apparently owns a cottage in Cavendish, P.E.I., that he has listed as his primary residence — even though Elections Canada’s voters’ list for 2012 shows Duffy’s residence for purposes of voting to be in Kanata.

And, donations Duffy made to the Conservative Party of Canada also include the Kanata residence.

Sen. David Tkachuk, head of the senate’s board of internal economy, said Duffy’s expenses follow the rules.

Senators are allowed a per diem of $30 a day, or $900 a month.

It’s fair to note Duffy’s living expenses cover a period going back to September 2010.

He’s not alone in this, according to news reports, which said fellow Sen.  Patrick Brazeau has his dad’s home in Maniwaki, north of Montreal, listed as his primary residence and has collected expenses for his home in Gatineau — on the other side of the Rideau River and just miles from the Senate.

Senators Marie Charette Poulin, Pierre De Bane and Anne Cools didn’t charge any housing costs for time spent in Ottawa, even though one lives in Northern Ontario, one in Quebec and one in Toronto.

This is why it’s beyond ridiculous that anyone would listen to Duffy and his friends talk about saving money, about duplication of services and about unnecessary levels of government.

It just seems to me that, before he lectures others on ways to economize and make changes to cut costs, he could do it himself by starting at home.

It’s not like he needs the money.

The starting salary for a senator — without bringing in per diems and extra money for being on committees and paying for living expenses — is $132,300.

So, the lesson in all this? Duffy believes in this basic rule — If I can, then I will.

And, the other lesson?

There are rules to live by if you’re safely ensconced in a job that requires you to work a few months of the year with a guarantee of employment until you are 75.

And, there are rules the rest of us, including our brothers and sisters on the other side of the country, have to live by.

Here’s an idea: Appoint all the Maritimers to the Senate.

Their financial futures would be secure and, given the economic woes they’ve endured under consecutive federal governments, they might make the Senate actually work.

Dale Bass is a reporter with Kamloops This Week. Her email address is here. Her blog can be found here.


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