For decades it was well-known on Parliament Hill that Mike Duffy, Canada’s best-loved political reporter, harboured ambitions of becoming a Senator.
His not-so-secret dream became a reality in 2009 and now, five years later, has turned into a nightmare for both Duffy and the man who appointed him, Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“What (Duffy) found out was that politics as practiced by real politicians is infinitely more dirty, more nasty, more hypocritical, and for much higher stakes than he ever dreamed,” Duffy biographer Dan Leger told the fifth estate’s Linden MacIntyre in a documentary that traces how Duffy’s ambition and questionable expenses led to a political scandal that could take down the Senate.
“This is not Mike Duffy’s Ottawa,” added Paul Wells, author and political editor for Maclean’s magazine. “If you become inconvenient to Stephen Harper, you have a very short shelf life in this town.”
Duffy was suspended from the Senate in November for making $90,000 in dubious expense claims for the time he spent in Ottawa on Senate business. The RCMP is investigating Duffy for possible criminal charges in connection with filing the expenses and making a deal to have Harper’s chief of staff Nigel Wright repay them. So far no charges have been laid.
Political observers say Harper’s brand has been damaged, especially among Conservative grassroots supporters who keep a close eye on every penny the government spends. Calls to abolish the Senate are increasing.
Yesterday I wrote an article about a new Twitterbot called GCCAEdits, which monitors revisions made to Wikipedia articles and tweets every time it catches an edit made from a Canadian government computer. In my piece yesterday, I focused on the more humourous edits I noticed government employees making—like adding the phrase “poopy balls” to an article about Pomeranian dogs. But after digging a bit deeper, I discovered a common, poorly hidden pattern of government computers making edits to Wikipedia pages in order to completely remove controversial sections from various entries about politicians.
The most glaring edit was made on July 10, 2013 to Pamela Wallin’s Wikipedia page—just shy of two months before Pamela Wallin had to reimburse the Senate for what was determined to be overspending. She has since been suspended from the Senate for wasting too much of the public’s money. The edit to her Wikipedia page on July 10th was made from a House of Commons IP address, and it removed an entire section of her entry entitled “Residency and travel expense controversy” that outlined, in detail, Pamela’s excessive travel expenses and subsequent resignation from the Senate. (...)
In 1917, Russia shuddered its way through not one, but two revolutions: the February Revolution ended three centuries of rule by the Romanov dynasty, and the October Revolution brought the Bolshevik Party to power, planting the seeds of the Soviet state. Socialist firebrand Leon Trotsky took a leading role in that year’s Russian drama—as he would do in subsequent years. But even close readers of history could be forgiven for not knowing what happened to Trotsky in the months between February and October, how he began that spring living in the Bronx and ended it as a prisoner in a Canadian concentration camp. More than a bizarre detour from epic events to come, Trotsky’s detention and release played a vital part in the development of tools and strategies for modern revolutions. (...)