View From the Hill by Keith Beardsley – Harper Government Steering in Murky Waters – May 16, 2013

View From the Hill by Keith Beardsley – Harper Government Steering in Murky Waters – May 16, 2013

dr evil 2CFN – It seems as though most days are dominated by more bad news stories for the governing Conservatives.

Spin it anyway they want, and some of their spin is hilarious, the reality is the Conservatives have been digging themselves deeper into the mud with each passing day. As we saw in the Labrador by-election, the public will only stand for so much before they punish a party.

As the latest Senate scandal gets murkier by the hour, it’s a fair question to ask what on earth they are thinking in PMO.

Rather than jump into their bunker and defend senators under investigation, why didn’t the Prime Minister suspend them from caucus until all the facts were in the open and the investigations/audits completed?  If wrong doing was proven then the suspension could be made permanent. Either way the public would have seen a Prime Minister taking the integrity of his Senate members and government seriously.

The same holds true for the Penashue file. Rather than let the minister announce that he was resigning and seeking re-election, the Prime Minister should have announced that he had removed Penashue from cabinet and turfed him from caucus. Others such as Helena Guergis and Garth Turner had suffered that fate before.  If the Prime Minister had done that there could have had a fresh nomination with a new candidate. The by-election results would most likely have been the same, but at least the Prime Minister would have been seen to be on the side of what is right and fair. Instead the public watched as the government lauded the individual and backed him to the hilt in the by-election. What type of signal does that send to the public?

In both the Penashue case and the recent Senate revelations the public is left with the impression that the Prime Minister is protecting individuals who have done something wrong. The public quite rightly should be asking why?

At the very least these individuals should have been put at arm’s length from the caucus and the Prime Minister. No matter what the circumstances, no one should have written a cheque to cover off a Senator’s reimbursement. That was just plain dumb. If the Prime Minister wasn’t aware of this, who came up with this idea that shows such poor political judgment?

The Conservative caucus must be stunned at this on-going drama that unfolds day after day. Revelations of wrong doing or questionable deals impact not only the reputation of the Prime Minister, but also will play out at the local constituency level where Conservative MPs must face re-election. Conservative MPs should be concerned. How long will it be before the caucus demands action and for heads to roll?

Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails. To sponsor this column please  email!

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