Monday, October 05, 2009

Wakey, wakey

Lysiane Gagnon takes on a few of Harper's Senate appointments today: "Some serious second thoughts." Better late than never, I suppose. But remarkably, Gagnon seems to be just now waking up to the atrocious appointment of Patrick Brazeau?

This is the Senator who was accused of sexual harassment while heading the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. Mr. Harper's PMO knew about the allegations at the time of the appointment but didn't care and went ahead and appointed him anyway. That's where this thing pretty much blew up for some of us. Back in January. To rub further salt in the wound, the PMO pronounced that they were proud of the appointment:
A spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said yesterday the government was aware of the allegation. Korey Teneycke noted there is a difference between an allegation and a finding, and Mr. Brazeau cleared all background checks.

"We are proud to appoint Mr. Brazeau," he said.
In fact, the PMO did such an awesome job background checking this character that they missed that there were in fact multiple allegations of harassment. Yet these allegations were not enough to stop them from appointing Brazeau. And not enough to get major media to object. Sure the Toronto Star editorialized on February 12th, two weeks after Brazeau was sworn in. Yay for the Kingston Whig Standard who got it right before Brazeau was sworn in.

But the financial transgressions have now made a difference for Gagnon. All of which was also missed by the super PMO vetting process, by the way. Missed or they just didn't care about them. Brazeau's tenure saw a deficit left to the organization and a host of other questionable expenses incurred . Although the problems with CAP's finances were raised back in January too.

Gagnon also calls into question the Demers appointment, pointing out the difficulty he will face in executing his responsibilities given his own admitted reading weaknesses: "Now, he says, he can at last manage short and simple texts – tabloid headlines, for instance. Sadly, this is just not good enough for a senator, whose work is to read and analyze long and complex bills."

What is the point at this stage? Particularly on the Brazeau matter? Other than to cement the impression that Harper has metaphorically muddied the place, appointing unqualified individuals in an effort to essentially undermine the institution. The issues with the Brazeau appointment were present almost immediately upon news of the questionable Harper Senate patronage extravaganza of last December. That was the time to exert pressure. Now we're stuck with Brazeau for what...36 more years?

We know the m.o. of this PM. Perhaps we could all be a little more vigilant and with it in the moment when he's wrecking an institution.

Update: Harper may come to regret that Demers appointment but not for the reasons offered by Gagnon above. On his first vote in the Senate, Demers abstained rather than vote against a Liberal proposal to ban video lottery terminals. Something to watch.