EDITORIAL: The court of public opinion

Prime Minister owes the Canadian public the truth about senate scandal

It appears that Prime Minister Stephen Harper intends to avoid testifying in the trial of suspended-senator Mike Duffy, now facing 31 criminal charges connected with his disputed expense claims.

While legal experts claim it’s entirely likely that Harper will be called to testify by Duffy’s defense in response to bribery charges, a spokesman has made it clear this week that Harper feels he has no further information to add to what he has already supplied to the RCMP.

This is yet another instance of Harper’s increasing disconnect with the electorate. Whatever reasons he offers, it is obvious that the desire to avoid anything that might prove embarrassing – standard equipment for politicians – has yet again trumped any attempt at transparency or respect for due process.

We’ll leave it to the courts to rule whether Harper can invoke parliamentary privilege to avoid testifying, but he’s not likely to score any points with the ordinary citizen by doing so.

Do any of us imagine we could avoid a subpoena to appear as a witness in a trial by claiming we had nothing useful to add? Any judge in this land would tell us it’s not our place to conclude whether our testimony would or wouldn’t be useful. It would be highly presumptive for us to assume that we could anticipate any and all lines of questioning, and we’d likely get our knuckles rapped for it.

But then we’re not the prime minister – and not able to avail ourselves of his privileges, parliamentary or otherwise.

Harper has persistently sought to distance himself from the actions of the Prime Minister’s Office on the Duffy file – a situation that would be laughable if it did not reveal how tragically flawed our political system is.

Cloaked in his mantle of privilege, Harper has decried the kinds of actions his appointee to the senate is accused of perpetrating, stopping just short of accusing the man himself. Yet Duffy has alleged, just as persistently, that the prime minister is not as far removed from the affair as one would have us believe.

Whatever our presumptions with regard to Duffy, the accused deserves his day in court.

And Canadians deserve the kind of leader who is willing to endure some personal discomfiture to testify, openly and honestly, in a court of law.

Anything short of that is an insult – to our people, to our principles, and, ultimately, to our country.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Delta character - and former White Rock resident - Pansy May Stuttard inspects a loaded revolver in the cover photo for Jim Dwight and Gary Cullen’s fascinating biography, Lord don’t want me Devil won’t take me. Contributed photo
West Coast’s ‘Pistol-packin’ Pansy’ lives on in colourful biography

Infamous Delta character ended her days in White Rock and South Surrey

A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary. March 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Reports of student attendance ‘dwindling’ at Surrey schools: teachers’ association

STA president said he’s heard from staff that students might not attend in-person for 4th quarter

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Chilliwack Search and Rescue volunteers say that a call on April 17 on Vedder Mountain was affected by bikers who rode through the rescue site, throwing rocks onto members and the patient. (Chilliwack Search and Rescue image)
Chilliwack Search and Rescue team, and patient, sprayed with rocks and dirt during rescue

Volunteer crew speaks out after riders on Vedder Mountain show no courtesy at accident scene

File photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
One man dead after shooting in Downtown Vancouver

This is Vancouver’s fifth homicide of the year

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of April 18

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Most Read