SOURCE: John Ivison, National Post
Trust Pat Martin to be plugged into the public opinion matrix. The maverick NDP MP rose in the house of Commons before Question Period and compared greedy senators to Johnny Cash's dirty Old Egg-Sucking dog.
As The Man in Black once sang: "he's shaggy and he eats like a hog/Always killing my chickens/ That dirty old egg-sucking dog".
his solution was to get his rifle and send him to the "great chicken-house in the sky".
Mr. Martin, and I dare say most Canadians, would likely agree with termination when it comes to the Senate, particularly if they watched the red Chamber's internal economy committee Tuesday evening. It revealed that Senator Mike Duffy claimed 49 days of per diems to cover his expenses in Ottawa when he does not appear to have been in the national capital region. Twenty-four of those claims were turned down by the Senate administration, so it was clear someone knew there was a pattern of questionable behaviour.
Mr. Duffy should perhaps eat more oily fish to help him remember where he was on any given day - not to mention where he lives.
But, back in the house of Commons, he and Senate expenses have become a side issue to the opposition holy Grail -proving that Stephen Harper was directing the whole scam.
Thomas Mulcair sounded like he was auditioning for Law and Order with his clipped, prosecutorial questions: "When were [Mr. Duffy's expenses] discussed at Cabinet?"; "does the Prime Minister know the $90,000 cheque was a personal cheque?"; "did Nigel Wright receive severance pay?"
There were some answers -we learned that the matter was not discussed at Cabinet; that Mr. Wright said he wrote a personal cheque; and that he will receive holiday pay and whatever other back pay he is entitled to.
But for the most part, we were reminded that this is not a court of law and that there is no judge here, compelling evidence from reluctant witnesses. In theory, the Speaker can call an MP to order for repeating an answer already given or addressing a subject not relevant to the question asked. In practice, no Speaker is going to wade lightly into the relevancy quagmire.
Were the incumbent, Andrew Scheer, to have done so, he may have questioned the Prime Minister's repeated reference to Mr. Mulcair's silence over an alleged bribe offered to him by the now-disgraced mayor of Laval 17 years ago.
The reality is, Question Period has only a limited utility when it comes to getting to the bottom of any given scandal.
When Mr. Mulcair asked about an email Mr. Duffy sent to the Prime Minister's Office, Mr. Harper was able to brush off the inquiry by saying all relevant information will be forwarded to the authorities - presumably meaning Mary Dawson, the Ethics Commissioner, and the RCMP.
Mr. Harper has proven over the past seven years that he considers open government to be an oxymoron - you can have one or the other - but if he waits for Ms. Dawson or the Mounties to wrap up their investigations, his approval rating will be dipping into Brian Mulroney territory, circa 1992.
Mr. Martin called on the Prime Minister to "leave his talking points alone and tell Canadians the real story behind the Mike Duffy cover-up." This undoubtedly reflects what many, many voters feel. The dominant narrative is that there is something murky going on and Mr. Duffy was paid for his silence.
I happen to find the Prime Minister's explanation that he didn't know about the $90,000 cheque to Mr. Duffy more plausible than the alternative - that he is orchestrating a cover-up. The consequences of being caught in a lie would prompt immediate demands for his resignation - not least from his caucus.
But that doesn't mean the Prime Minister doesn't have to clear up a number of discrepancies. Why not make public the Duffy email? Why the lag time between the Prime Minister finding out about the cheque and Nigel Wright's resignation? did Mr. Harper give his staff any direction in dealing with the Duffy expenses scandal?
The longer he stalls, the more likely that the grand coalition he built so painstakingly is going to unravel.