Seriously, what is it going to take for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to send Peter Penashue packing?
Harper fired Helena Guergis over unfounded rumors. He sent Mad Max Bernier to the back benches for his forgetfulness. Some may point to the stubborn defense of perennial screw-up Bev Oda as a precedent for Harper’s loyalty.
The two cases could be more alike than we realize. Oda fudged documents to please the PMO. To fire her meant the Prime Minister had to admit a lack of good judgment on his part in appointing an incompetent individual to cabinet. We will never know how ordered her to alter documents. The result, she stayed until she wanted to retire.
Penashue is a Prime Ministerial trophy!
His narrow election was a victory, clutched from the flames of a potential second electoral shut-out in Newfoundland and Labrador. Some of the Conservative Party’s top lieutenants in this province saw an opportunity in the second week of the campaign.
The key to unlocking the seat was money. Money to do what the incumbent could not do – get to every door in Canada’s least populated riding. There are just 26,000 people in Labrador. The riding is 269,135,59 km large, that is a population density of .01 person per square kilometer!
For the control freak, firing the beleaguered Penashue would be admitting that the campaign team was overzealous, that they were unethical in their quest to please their master. The prize, was too important! I can only imagine the pressure to feed the campaign fires under a simple rule, don’t ask for permission, beg for forgiveness later.
When the “errors” were discovered, the party had an answer in the form of a simple campaign manager/Chief Financial Officer who was in over his head. Sure he made mistakes, but they were not deliberate. The good unintentioned mistakes of a rookie. That worked for the first mistake. The reward for being the scapegoat – a prestigious appointment to a lucrative board.
The problem is that the complexity of the so called “errors” continues to grow. The role of the candidates brother in arranging campaign loans from an aboriginal development corporation, special arrangements for unlimited flights that did not reflect the true value of the cost and now corporate donations masked as private contributions.
No longer is this a localized issue, but a national embarrassment. The beleaguered Penashue can not answer questions in the House of Commons for fear of what he might say.
While some may say the Prime Minister needs to display great integrity and character, the truth is he has to find a way to ensure that the contamination does not reach the national election team or the PMO. In this case the heat of the impending resignation will have a far shorter shelf-life than the aftermath.
The administration is highly centralized and controlled. However, when a scandal breaks the disgraced always insist they acted alone.
Penashue could be the thin edge of the wedge. This electoral spending scandal may dwarf the Cadman, Oda, Carver, In & Out, Dimitri Soudas, Christian Paradis, Sebastien Togneri, Agop Evereklian, Giulio Maturi, Dale Saip, Kasra Nejatian scandals.
There are major ethical and accountability issues at play of national concern.