Whether the senate rules on housing and other expenses were unclear or not, Mike Duffy and Pam Wallin should have known that submitting claims that were based on false information is just plain wrong. This idea that it is ok to do things just because one CAN, is all too pervasive. As former senior journalists, both of these senators would have been all over the story if the names of the perpetrators were changed. But it seems Prime Minister Harper has to take some of the heat too.

Let’s go back to the time Wallin and Duffy were elevated to the senate. It was 2009 and Harper was heading a shaky minority government. There was a strong rumour that the opposition parties were about to stage a coup by uniting to topple the government. Along with Duffy and Wallin, 18 senate vacancies were filled with Conservative supporters. But here’s the point. The PM appointed Duffy as the senator for Prince Edward Island, not Ontario. Aside from a five year hiatus as head of the National Citizens Coalition, Stephen Harper has been a member of parliament since 1993.

That means he would have seen Mike Duffy the reporter just about every day on Parliament Hill. He would have seen him in Hy’s restaurant, and at numerous receptions and parties in that incestuous town. Could Harper credibly claim then or now, that he didn’t know that Mike Duffy did not live in PEI, and hadn’t lived there for 30 years? By allowing that fiction in the name of political expediency, the PM is now reaping the consequences.

John Best has had a lengthy media management career, in television and radio and now print. As Vice President, News at CHCH in Hamilton, John oversaw a significant expansion of the news operation. He founded Independent Satellite News, Canada’s only television news service providing national content to Canadian independent TV stations. John is a frequent political commentator on radio and television, a documentary producer and author of a book and numerous articles on historical and political subjects. John is a past recipient of the New York Festival’s award for writing in the International TV category.

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