The Crown has once again flubbed a major case in recent memory, and just like last time this story has been spun in a direction that shields obviously failed systems from meaningful inquiry. That the “vindicated” beneficiaries in both Ghomeshi’s and Duffy’s trials happen to be bodies of Laurentian patronage is rather interesting, but hey – why question the CBC’s human resource team or the assembly of failures that produced this verdict when you can blame misogyny and Harperites instead? If we’re honest about Canadian institutions they could be sad and we could be forced to admit that Canada’s elite are not in fact übermensch and that its institutions beget corruption and vice. Don’t the rich and connected sacrifice enough to make this place the miserable den of lunacy that cakers know and love?
In the case of Duffy, the innocent verdict came with calls to stop trials against other members of the Senate, namely Patrick Brazeau and Marc Harb. Pamela Walin, who was also in question but never charged despite the RCMP handing files to the Crown is already back to doing what the Senate does best – getting paid. Don’t think for a second that I’m giving the RCMP an all-clear – those losers didn’t exactly search high and low and even Pravda in a rare case of solid journalism notes the failure of the RCMP to do their job in between piles of the ponderous “Harper is le Hitler you guyz” swill that is apparently the only vein of thought allowed within the Canadian media. The single most critical piece I’ve seen on the Duffy Debacle (by Terry Milowski) goes to the point of calling the Senate “embarrassing” but even he makes the problem out to be the Senate’s staffers and lawyers as opposed to a failure of governance and institutions or Canada’s inability to revise its own shitty Constitution.
The RCMP failed because that’s what they do. The Senate is a failure of a chamber crawling with failures; at least thirty Senators were flagged as owing money to the government after filing inappropriate expenses. I get that the rules are vague and that they aren’t often followed, but when 35% of the 85 Senators in June 2015 are suspected of having improper claims the next step would typically be, you know, changing them. Is it not outrageous that for so long such a valueless body was costing so much with so little public oversight? Nah, that would suggest that there’s a problem in the way Canada governs itself. Can’t have that! And certainly can’t do anything about it even if we do note that it’s bad, because doing is hard.
I am not exonerating Harper or his staff here, let’s be sure. But let’s not pretend that the myriad exposed screwups – from the RCMP’s ponderous review of Pamela Wallin’s expenses to the Crown’s inability to put together a coherent case to the fact that a staffer in the Prime Minister’s Office can exercise so much power, Duffy’s trial reveals a sea of stupidity in which even the Senate itself is but one part – are somehow resolved only within the Senate or better off viewed in isolation to one another. This is indicative of an entire culture of slack-jawed laziness and lack of clarity shot throughout Canadian civics. Whinging about the Senate being useless without calling for it and the culture that birthed these problems to be fundamentally changed (if not outright eliminated) is both taking only one part of the problem to account and even then doing it badly.
And it’s not like Trudwater’s solution, the brilliant idea to jettison Senators from the Liberal Party (and thus clearly removing them entirely from the social circles and elite institutions where high-powered Liberals would lurk) did much of anything. Seriously – this is the plan to reform the Senate. This is all they’ve got put to paper. The solution to elites running roughshod with a badly-designed, extraneous, aristocratic body with little in the way of transparency and less in the way of excuses to exist? Why, put a gatekeeper body of more elites together to decide which elites are the most elite! Amazing!