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Senate fix is in

That Prime Minister Stephen Harper vacates the premises just as the Senate scandal begins to unfold says as much about the man's integrity as does the issue itself.

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Listening to the likes of John Baird defend the character of the government reminds me of having to retrieve my vehicle from a towing company's compound, complete with frothing guard dogs.

Both scenarios strike a common chord, namely that as much as we realize the fix is in, we remain highly doubtful there exists any possibility we aren't leaving the premises without our pockets having been picked.




The Helena Guergis affair, Bev Oda's $16 orange juice, robocalls to win elections, Senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin's false residency claims, the prime minister's right-hand man forced to resign after bailing out Duffy... and these are the Conservatives who have been caught.

Throw in over $100 million spent on pre-election advertising under the guise of information (the Canadian Economic Action Plan), and what do we have? Honest, ethical, fiscally responsible, accountable, transparent government?

As Shakespeare's Hamlet would say: "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."


Portage la Prairie


While I am sure Prime Minister Stephen Harper is happy to see Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau resign from the Conservative caucus of the Senate, most Canadians won't be satisfied until the Three Stooges resign from the Senate itself.




We Canadians are a patient lot. We've supported an anachronistic institution of dubious merit for almost 150 years without paying much attention to what value we were getting for the millions of tax dollars it is costing us.

The Senate came as part of the Westminster style of government bestowed upon us when Canada became an independent country and -- to use a clich© -- on paper it looks pretty good. Given the proclivity of elected legislators to misuse their immense powers from time to time, it makes sense to have another body with the authority to block or at least to ameliorate the most flagrant abuses.

Recent revelations of greed, corruption and deception involving even a few members of the Senate are repugnant enough. But until all the partisan hacks and those with questionable ethics are expunged, the whole of this once venerable chamber has been rendered disreputable and no longer worthy of our support.

Would it be too cynical to muse that perhaps this was the prime minister's plan all along or did he just make some bad choices?




Mike Duffy resigned from the Conservative caucus, unlike Helena Guergis, who was kicked out. While being out of caucus they both retained their voting privileges.

Fortunately, Guergis had to face the electorate, while Duffy has been appointed to an unelected body until age 75 and will have to answer to no one unless he is found guilty of criminal activity.

What a terrible punishment for misappropriating public funds. If the senator wants to retain what little integrity he has left he should resign.



Crediting the workers

It is not often that labour stories get extensive coverage in the Free Press, so thanks for the story about the On to Ottawa trek (The rail riders' riot, May 18).

The article truthfully shows that the Regina riot started when the police "cleared a path" and arrested key speakers at a peaceful demonstration.

I would add two important facts about the trek. It is unlikely the trekkers would have left Vancouver without the efforts of the Women's Labour League, part of the Workers Unity League. And Communist Party members were crucial in organizing the trek, although your article mentions only the CCF.

It was a collective effort of the left. Historians acknowledge the CP's role, even though the party was illegal at the time.


Communist Party of Canada -- Manitoba


Good health no poverty

Nadeem Esmail and Mark Milke's descriptions of health care systems in Sweden and Holland (This summer, check out health care elsewhere, May 21) give the impression that these countries have two-tier systems, with the rich receiving good care and the poor getting the leftovers.

What they failed to mention is that the socialist governments of these countries have eliminated poverty.

When you are being paid a minimum of $20 per hour and have no need to save for your retirement because you are guaranteed a government pension of 76 per cent of your maximum salary, a $15 fee for a doctor's visit is not a great deterrent. You can also afford to pay for some private insurance.

The Swedish health-care system can take some credit for the fact that Swedes have one of the longest life expectancies in the developed world, and the lowest infant mortality rate, but the elimination of poverty must be given some credit also. The government mandated five-weeks paid holiday is probably also a contributing factor.



Mike's the real Deal

The photo by Mike Deal of the couple reflected in the raindrop on a window pane (Reflecting on the weekend, May 21) -- wow! Put it in for an award.



Sign of the times

Calm down, people. If there is nothing legally wrong with taxpayer dollars being spent at the mayor's restaurant, how can there be anything legally wrong with spending taxpayer dollars on the mayor's sign?



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 23, 2013 A14

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