Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mike Duffy & Why An Elected Senate Would Have Made This Worse

Nobody really thinks Senator Mike Duffy received $90,000 in return for some political favour, but that public perception would most certainly change if he and every other Senator faced regular expensive election campaigns that depended on large contributions and even larger political favours.

An elected Senate requiring hundreds of thousands of dollars every four years for its members to run for office in much larger ridings would without a doubt only increase the likelihood of Senators exchanging votes for large financial contributions, both over and under the table.

In contrast, appointed Senators aren't as vulnerable to bribes or shady deals.

When news broke that Senator Mike Duffy had secretly accepted $90,000 from Nigel Wright, the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, under the pretense that Duffy would pay back ill-gotten living expenses, the general sentiment was that the Senator did not have the funds himself because of personal financial hardship due to an ailing wife.

Since then of course other details have emerged. It appears Wright, in an attempt to protect an asset to the Conservative Party, was eager to pay off Duffy's living expenses to prevent an audit from possibly revealing how the Conservative Senator double-billed taxpayers for even more funds.

And though it is very likely that more details will soon be made public, it is very likely none will show that the troubled senator took the $90,000 gift in some backroom in exchange for voting against good policy or for drafting legislation that would only benefit a privileged few.

It cannot be denied that what Senator Duffy and the Prime Minister's right-hand man appear to have done is wrong. But it also cannot be denied that with an elected Senate and Duffy in need of campaign funds it would have looked much worse, and probably would have been.

If the Senate was elected rather than appointed, not only would there be greater risk for all senators to appear to be in the pocket of rich millionaires, there would be greater risk of them actually being there.


Scott @ Prog Blog said...

Is there evidence of any of the elected MP's from the House of Commons accepting large bribes?

I think your contention that this would occur more readily if they were elected is highly debatable. said...

Scott, there are numerous cases of elected MPs receiving bribes and exchanging votes for money. I don't think you gave this much thought because there are many examples of this. From the Pacific Scandal to Mulroney-Schrieber to the most recent Peter Peneshue exceeding campaign limits with donations from large corporations