Please Advise! Burgess Tells Harper Why the Senate Scandal Has Legs

And why that 'look at this free trade deal' feint won’t work.

By Steve Burgess 30 Oct 2013 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Read his previous articles here.

[Editor's note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a Ph.D in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

As you know I have often written to you in the past seeking advice and opinions and, you know, just a little positive affirmation. However, recent events in the Senate have led to a new attitude here at the Prime Minister's Office. As a result I ask you to please destroy all previous communication from this office, purge your drive of any emails pertaining to strategic or financial matters, and deny all knowledge of our exchanges. Should you face imminent capture please use the enclosed cyanide pill. Sorry, we're just a little spooked about covering our tracks these days.

But hey, how about that European trade agreement?

Your Prime Ministerial pal,

Dear PM,

Ah, the Senate. It's like your appendix -- totally irrelevant until it starts causing problems.

But tell me, Steve -- why, oh why do you buttoned-down conservative types always get involved with the wrong people? Mike Duffy? You always used to say senators were trouble. Now here you are, caught like Jimmy Swaggart with a hooker in a New Orleans Travel Lodge.

I understand, though. You get involved, you become intimate -- pretty soon you're sending naughty emails, paying legal expenses, engaging in elaborate ruses to cover expense account tomfoolery. It's all hearts and flowers and dubious per diems until suddenly it's lawyer time.

As nasty divorces go, your split with Duffy ranks up there with Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin. And who knew Duffy had such stamina? The man has turned into the Energizer Scandal Bunny. Last week, Duffy said you were present at discussions about how to deal with the expense scandal and were well aware of the plan for Nigel Wright to cut a cheque for $90,000 to pay back the disputed expenses. This week, he said the party also cut a cheque to pay his legal fees, strongly suggesting the whole plan was a Conservative Party project. Every week a new bombshell. How many times can the same suicide bomber explode?

Still, you'd almost have to consider yourself lucky, Prime Minister. Like President Obama, you've been fortunate in your enemies. He is opposed by Tea Party fanatics -- you are being attacked by Mike Duffy. That's not a bad thing. Your breezy dismissal of Duffy as a man with a taste for flaming pants is an easy sell. When one considers that it was you who appointed Duffy to the Senate in the first place, a conspiracy-minded sort might conclude that you are the kind of strategist who makes Machiavelli look like Sponge Bob.

And yet the picture of the Conservative hierarchy as brilliant puppet masters doesn't really hold up so well. Take the alleged backroom deal offered to accused Senator Patrick Brazeau by Conservative Senate leader Claude Carignan. Anybody who thought they could offer a secret deal to a character like Brazeau and not see him turn around and spill his guts 10 minutes later has never watched an episode of Survivor. No need for NSA wiretaps in this country -- with Brazeau and Duffy around, nothing stays secret for long.

In fact, you appear to be be losing control of the Senate altogether. Making the case against their suspension, senators Duffy, Brazeau and Wallin have all hinted darkly that if the witch hunt continues there are plenty more witches to be found. The argument seems to be having its intended effect -- more senators are now hearing that stirring call to unity: “Hang together, or hang separately.” (Translated into Senate-ese it goes: “What has happened to the right to a fair trial in this country?”)

But enough of this, Prime Minister. I know you'd much rather discuss that wonderful European free trade deal. It's nice enough. Would it be possible to trade Senator Duffy for Silvio Berlusconi? At least when Silvio throws a bunga-bunga party, he pays for it.

If you really want to change the subject, I'm afraid trade deals are not enough. At this point you'll have to invade Australia. Or you could get rid of the whole problem at once. A bit late for an emergency Senatectomy now, though. Should have had it removed before it burst.  [Tyee]

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