Wednesday, June 10, 2015

SENATE NEEDS TO BE REFORMED TO BE TRUE INDEPENDENT VOICE

Pigs are slippery buggers. Ask the Ohio State Patrol and volunteers who have been trying to corral some 2,300 piglets that escaped after their ride lost control and slammed into a guardrail.

Hundreds of squealing pigs ran into the woods in the hopes of escaping the butcher.

Speaking of rounding up little piggies, Auditor General Michael Ferguson released his comprehensive two-year review of Senate spending today.  30 current and former senators were were singled out for questionable spending. Nine were referred to the RCMP for further investigation. The cost of the alleged abuse  nearly $1 million.

It cost $23.5 million for Feguson's staff to go through some 80,000 claims. The investigation was sparked after investigations into Senators Brazeau, Duffy, Harb, and Wallin showed alleged abuses.

The Auditor General has come to the same conclusion that investigating bodies in other Westminster Systems have - you can not trust politicians to police themselves. A lack of transparency and accountability leads to abuse and fraud.

After an investigation into the spending scandal in the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly, Chief Justice Derek Green concluded that there had been a “broad-based systemic failure” in the House of Assembly’s administration and that the public interest had not been at the forefront. Four members from three different parties were charged and convicted of fraud and breach of trust.

52 charges were laid against members of all three parties in Nova Scotia after provincial Auditor-General Jacques Lapointe blew the lid off years of inappropriate spending by politicians, sparking a nine-month RCMP investigation which laid bare a backroom culture of privilege.

Back in the 90's, a spending scandal in the legislature of Saskatchewan revealed that the Progressive Conservatives and the NDP llegally diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars from government allowances in a phony expense-claim scam. 14 Conservative MLAs and two caucus workers were convicted of fraud and breach of trust.

Similar investigations in Australia and in the United Kingdom blew the lid of the strange world of entitlements that the denizens of our legislatures took for granted and parliamentary privilege protected.

There is obviously a disconnect between what some politicians deem acceptable and what the public feels is right. If the Senate  was unpopular before, it has plumbed new depths.  
 The institution, designed by the founders of this country to provide regional/provincial checks and balances on the House of Commons has been shamed. The era of living by an entirely different set of rules from those they supposedly represent has hopefully come to an end.

The institution will need reform if it is ever to regain the confidence of the population. It needs to be transformed into the independent second hump of the Canadian Parliament that it was envisaged to be.

It is too important to our democratic system to be scrapped, despite our anger.


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