Following journalistic convention, I shall now make brief reference to a number of scandals, both real and manufactured, using a flogged-to-death suffix borrowed from America's most notorious--though hardly most serious--political débacle.
Appointmentgate [though I also like "Appointmentscam"]:
Stephen Harper's undertaking to have all candidates for federal office vetted by a non-partisan appointments commission was not just a good suggestion; it formed part of the Accountability Act, arguably the centrepiece of the government's legislative agenda so far.
Of course, the commission's establishment hit an immediate snag when (and please read this slowly) Harper's choice of commission chairman turned out to be a purely partisan selection--namely Gwyn Morgan, a CPC-friendly Alberta oilman.
Naturally, the Opposition declined Harper's generous offer to allow a CPC hack to superintend a non-partisan process, and the commission went into limbo. More pressing matters, such as begging FOX News for interviews, have prevented Harper from proposing another candidate for the chairmanship, and he seems unconcerned that a crucial component of his own law remains unfulfilled.
In Harperland, though, an idle commission can still be mightily expensive. The appointments non-commission, which has yet to deliberate a single case, has already cost taxpayers more than one million dollars. Sure, that money could have gone to hospitals, our Afghan battle-group, or our lamentably outgunned navy and air-force, but health-care and military bureaucrats are notorious wastrels. Much better to keep the cash on Parliament Hill, so that a "skeleton staff" (made up almost certainly of the cousins, nieces, nephews and psychic hairdressers of CPC M.P.'s) can sit on their powdered asses tooling around on their Blackberries or, when the mood strikes them, watching from the House gallery whilst Harper's drones drivel endlessly on about their fiscal rectitude.
It's not quite Adscam, but it'll do. If you prefer, though, just keep watching that bright shiny thing.
As you'll recall, Harper made a slew of preposterously partisan Senate appointments early this year, every one of which so hysterically unfit for legislative office that it seemed part of a plot to push Canadians' loathing for the Senate even lower than it is, down to the level where Harper's appointment of a paraplegic groundhog suffering from tertiary syphillis would arouse nothing more than mild bemusement.
Among this clownish crew was one Patrick Brazeau, former head of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, a federally funded organisation. Pursuant to Harper's passionate commitment to diversity, Brazeau's appointment brought into the Senate a member of a criminally neglected and heavily oppressed community--those who like to party, chase skirt, and drive Porsches on the public dime while damning the ethics of their peers and, bien sûr, loudly endorsing the CPC. He brings with him the wealth of thirty-four years of life experience--thirty-four glorious years: he's all of ten years away from chugging ice-cold Molsons with his frat buddies on ten-cent-wings night down at the local Hooters.
Brazeau's provincial sexual harassment case has been kicked up to the federal level, and the senator will soon be explaining to a federal panel why he thinks the complainant is upset over what he describes as "inappropriate text messages and phone calls". I just hope he doesn't overdress for the occasion:
Really, I just love the "Atlantic City mafia" look he's rockin' here, but I doubt if the commissioners will. Note to Patrick: lose the pink stuff, and buy a tie. You're a senator now, not a goodfella, and you'll still be a sex-machine with the chicks.
Too few Canadians realise that Ottawa toils under the most catastrophically inept poltroon ever to lope across the pages of North American mayoralty history. His name is Larry O'Brien. He is a well-connected CPC hack, who, despite running for mayor in 2006 on a drearily familiar no-tax-hike, tough-on-crime platform, has overseen chronic tax hikes and rising crime. He serves as living proof of the old adage: elect a neocon; watch your city/province/country turn to shit.
He is currently being tried on charges of having bribed an opponent to drop out of the mayoralty race with the collusion of several senior members of Harper's "New Government". John Baird is among those under subpoena. The Harper follies have been a morbidly fascinating spectacle, but this trial should be the spectacle to crown all spectacles--the prestige, if you will.
Transcending the squalor of the trial, though, is the sick-making outrage of O'Brien's mere incumbency. If old Ottawa--core, downtown Ottawa--had had its way, O'Brien would still be running his cute little temp agency. It was the suburbs who wafted this ill wind into City Hall. It was the politically illiterate Hummer jockeys of Nepean and Barrhaven who foisted this jesting harlequin onto those of us who know better. As this chart shows, we voted for Alex Munter (while praying that he would overcome the oft-fatal political handicaps of being smart, serious, and well-informed); they voted for the guy who spewed endless gibberish about Munter being a typical tax-and-spend "lefty" (yeah--he ran Kanata for years; a classic Stalinist move). What we got was a civic leader who thinks being arrested is "rock-star" cool.
O'Brien's election brilliantly exemplifies the need for Ottawa's de-amalgamation. I am no longer willing to allow suburbanites, hypo-urbanites, and infra-urbanites to inflict their masochistic, anti-civic irrationality on a people for whom the urban core is home, not just something seen from behind an office window a few hours a day. If you can hear the Peace Tower chimes from your home, you're an Ottawan. If not, you may have your own urgent neighbourhood matters to attend to--where to put the next Future Shop, whether to let the golf course expand its parking lot, whether to allow the developers to tear down the church and make way for a new Costco--but you've got nothing of significance to say about what my city should look like. If you gave a shit about it, you would live in it.
Because Barack Obama did something vaguely "French", we now know exactly how morally and intellectually bankrupt American conservatism has become.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the leaders of the free world, a nation more trivial than which has never been and, pray God, will never be.