03.26.2015 07:22 AM

Why the Mike Duffy trial/scandal/whatever won’t topple the government, with bonus ALL CAPS

You all know my views on scandal stuff, but you also know I am a digitized, Internet-based broken record, and possibly not even a person.  To wit: scandal-mongering DOESN’T WORK.

Cole’s Notes version as to why:

  • The media/politico chattering class call EVERYTHING a scandal, and always append “gate” to the end of same, to no discernible effect
  • The public ALREADY think EVERYONE in politics is a crook, so the breathless revelation that someone involved in politics is a crook ISN’T A REVELATION TO THEM
  • Joe and Jane Frontporch, the aforementioned public, HAVE HEARD THE HYSTERIA AND HISTRIONICS TOO MANY TIMES, and don’t believe any of it UNTIL THE PERP IS LED AWAY IN AN ORANGE PANTSUIT AND HANDCUFFS
  • Joe and Jane believe THE REAL SCANDALS are things like the lack of a JOB, or having to lay in a hospital corridor to get HEALTH CARE, or spending BILLIONS ON SECURITY and deranged, lone-wolf fanatics still figure out a way to kill innocent people – those are THE REAL SCANDALS, not someone expensing something by bona fide mistake, or consensual adults with zipper problems

Ipso facto, we give you JOHN BARBER, who GETS IT.  The Mike Duffy “scandal” WILL HAVE NO IMPACT WHATSOEVER, EVER:

…It is expected to take several weeks to flesh out the details, with the help of the innumerable auditors, officials and functionaries who will dominate the witness stand. Duffy might end up with a slapped wrist, which would be vindication compared to the outrageously unfair slagging he has so far received. But he is just as likely to emerge with head held high and the Crown’s dubious case in ruins.

In either event, the rest of us will be left wondering why this country remains so pathetically incapable of staging a decent political scandal.


  1. Lash Ray says:

    The real scandal is a PM who has a track record of appointees that are outright criminals or are under investigation, or ar in court. I wouldn’t trust his judgement on anything based on that alone

  2. Alex says:

    Let’s assume for argument’s sake that you are right, and that the Mike Duffy trial won’t topple the Conservatives. Let’s also assume that Joe and Jane front porch are more focused on the economy then the latest political scandal. Then could the Harperites lose because — gasp! — their poor record recently in regard to managing the economy? (See John Ivison column on this topic: http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/03/25/ivison-conservative-party-economic-management/).

    For me the drop in oil prices is much more fatal to the Tories then Duffy. I also am not sure if yelling, “we have to stop ISIL!” will make people forget that our economy is getting worse. Harper likes to boast that he is the best economic manager. Wouldn’t it be ironic if he lost because he failed to pay attention to the economy.

    • Al in Cranbrook says:

      The base assumption seems to be that voters will blame Harper for the price of oil?

      And the Liberals would do exactly what differently?

      Oh, we don’t know, do we? LPC economic policy remains a mystery, particularly to Trudeau.

      Except, of course, that they will inflict a carbon tax…i.e., a tax on everything…upon voters. I’m sure that will be a big vote getter in October!

      • doconnor says:

        It is Harper’s fault for promoting an increased dependance on unreliable oil at the expense of manufacturing (by allowing such a high dollar).

        I do admit that subtlety may be lost on many voters. Many voters still blame the Ontario NDP for the 1990s rescission that was caused by the Conservative’s Free Trade Agreement.

        • Al in Cranbrook says:

          I wholeheartedly disagree…but you already knew that. 🙂

        • Matt says:

          1) Ontario’s Liberal governmt has spent the last 12 years jacing power rates higher and higher. That is what killed our manufacturing sector, not Harper.

          2) The federal Liberals won their 1993 majority with a promise to scrap NAFTA, then promptly signed it after winning the election. The revenue brought in by NAFTA, keeping the GST (again after promising to scrap it during the 1993 campaign), downloading services onto the provinces and cutting the federal public sector helped to eliminated the deficit and create the surplus. Ontario did OK after NAFTA.The problem was the NDP, not free trade.

          • doconnor says:

            1) Electricity is a small part of manufacturing cost. The dollar effect 100% of export revenue.

            2) I was talking about the US – Canada Free Trade Agreement which started around 1990. Manufacturing did improve significantly in the later 1990s when… wait for it… the dollar dropped to record lows.

  3. ben burd says:

    We know that all pols are crooks, we know that joe frontporch and his missus don’t care but what we also know is that joe and the wife want to know what harper knew. They want to know how the only person charged is the ‘bribee’ not the briber. They also want to confirm what they know – the PMO runs the bloody country.

    So pundits might be right about the outcome but Joe wants to see some of the details and that ain’t good for harper.

    • Elisabeth Lindsay says:

      Ben….all politicians aren`t crooks. Both Liberal and Conservative Governments are run from the PMOs. Joe and Jane front porch don`t care who knew what when. They care that the $90,000. didn`t come out of their pockets thanks to the generosity of the guy in the PMO.

      Harper voters are going to vote for him, and NDPers are going to vote for Mulcair, and who knows WHAT the Liberals are going to do. The same as always.

      The trial is going to be super TV, just like the Housewives and Kardashian shows are.

      Oobladi ooblada life goes on.

  4. sezme says:

    Scandals are to governments what cigarettes are to a human body: one won’t kill you; the effect is cumulative.

  5. wsam says:

    You don’t think Harper coming off as bent will help sink his chances at another majority? If Don Bayne can get Harper to stand trial it will do more than solidify the already strong and accepted narrative that Harper is a bully and rapidly partisan, it could open that narrative up to the possibility the government Harper runs is actually, in fact, completely bent. Look at Harper’s political appointees (h/t Lash Ray). Tony Clement seeding Muskoka with Gazebos like Jonny Appleseed did apples.

    Harper wants to expand Canada’s surveillance architecture dramatically and he wants political appointees to monitor it. His last guy, Porter, was a known fraudster. This is a way to attack Harper’s leadership. Tie that into inane, Team Dumb, foreign policy and an economy built upon Canada ‘energy superpower’ status.

  6. Patrice Boivin says:

    None of my tax dollars are paying for these proceedings I hope.

  7. .. at some point, ordinary folks use common sense & come to certain conclusions. Funny.. so do mainstream media, tho they’re paid for published conclusions.. which ordinary folks may read or hear or see. So when a so called genius economist politician PM says he only heard about Duffy/Wright via ‘the news’ & changes his story again & again.. Nigel has his full confidence, Nigel resigned, Nigel betrayed his trust, He fired Nigel.. its kind of natural for folks to apply common sense, even knowing the PM is as crooked a nail as ever was.

    Folks no longer care about the money.. its about the attempted cover up, the plumbers .. OK, the various others involved, at least 3 lawyers, other Senators, Ray Novak, a huge accounting firm, Duffy, Nigel, staff, assistants.. even journalists! And, just to make the entire cluster #%*€ even more entertaining, its The Crown & The hallowed RCMP digging out the dirt & serving up the subpoenas! But but but.. aint both of those entities subservient to the almighty Prime Minister and his sanctimonious PMO & symbiotic Conservative Party. How & why would they go after all concerned.. to the point that our gloomy PM must claim Parliamentary Immunity & obviously decline to testify.. under oath?

    Oh wait.. isn’t that Ms Pamela Wallin, patiently waiting her turn to be Parliamentary Fricasee ?
    Will that be Groundhog Day all over again for the gloomy warrior PM? And Ray Novak?

    ‘Oh hi folks.. and The Base too.. (Friend send 15$ will ya)
    Though we have no idea what the Nigel/Duffy hijinks were about.. and probably baseless lies
    we know you trust us to run several proper Royal wars against the jihadis
    so ignore the news.. like we do, send money to preserve christianity & Conservative Values
    cuz everybody hates us, but we has Smart Bombs.. and they started it anyways
    and watch 24/7 for daily hilights of war without combat’

  8. davie says:

    Some scandals work.
    Seems to me the federal Lbs tried to fund pro federal, anti separatist, programmes in Quebec, but some cynical types on site misused the finds. The then Reform Party called it the Sponsorship Scandal. the Conservatives have been riding that hobby horse ever since, to pretty good effect.
    When RCMP tried to keep fire arms from possible looters in High River, the Conservatives, although they finally repealed the long gun registry, jumped on this ‘scandal’ to squeeze a little more juice from the gun control lemon.
    I am sure that both Libs and Conservatives will rant about the NDP satellite offices scandal that was revealed by an in camera meeting dominated by Libs and Conservatives.

    I agree with comments above that a number of scandals can add up to an effect (although, here in BC, our last election suggests the ‘number’ has to be really high, and the media has to mention them from time to time). But simply repeating references to the same single scandal over and over (Sponsorship Scandal) can make up for having to list a number of different scandals.

    • Warren says:

      Sponsorship did not work, politically. The chief prosecutor of it was the CPC, but it was the NDP who swept Quebec, where sponsorship entirely took place.

      • davie says:

        I agree that CPC prosecuted the sponsorship thing.
        I often thought that many members of the Bloc reflected NDP approaches, and that there was a chance of electing ND’s if NDP could move that Bloc support to NDP. I am far from Quebec, but I have the idea that Quebec was reacting to CPC attacks on Liberals, including the sponsorship allegations, but would not vote for a CPC which had so many members and some leaders who had disdain for French Quebeckers. They would not go Liberal, they wanted to go federal, Layton made it possible for that vote to park with NDP. So I think the sponsorship allegations had a role in where that vote went.

  9. Mr. D says:

    (Previously posted on another topic thread but also fits this topic.)

    The intellectual mentality of the Canadian electorate cannot cope with more than two election issues at a time, and will likely make their voting decision on only one issue. It’s called the K.I.S.S. Political Strategy.

    e.g. the economic issue – “what’s in it for me?”; and/or, the security issue – “kill those flucking terrorists in the ME before they come back to Canada and kill us” !

    Everything else is totally irrelevant — particularly a ‘scandal’ over $90,000!

  10. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    My response is, it depends. Does the old Duff still consider himself a Conservative? Does that still have any meaning for him? Or, has he decided to use Big Bertha on them for leaving him out to dry?

    Given his heart condition, they should have perhaps treaded a bit more lightly.

  11. Sean Fordyce says:

    I would not be so categorical that scandals wont work. They won’t work on everyone but they don’t have to.

    Voters do not think all parties are equally crooked even if they have a generally jaded view of the lot. Non-voters may think that way but they don’t count when it comes to elections.

    I do agree with you that this scandal is unlikely to hurt Harper much but not because I dismiss scandals as potentially harmful to governments. We have had enough examples of such stories about the Conservatives that those who would change their vote based on such things would have stopped supporting the Conservative party long ago. This does not mean that Harper is not harmed by such scandal, rather, it means the damage is already factored in to current support levels.

    It seems that Conservative supporters have developed a high tolerance for any means to that party’s ends. This means that the only kind of scandal remaining that could hurt the Conservatives would be something that compromises the small-c conservative agenda.

  12. graham watt says:

    Tipping point. Approaching and almost here.

  13. Bill says:

    I don’t think Duffy will be the deciding factor but opposition parties can use it to raise judgement issues on the part of the PM on who he appoints and surrounds himself with…Brazeau, Wallin, etc..

    Hey off topic, would you ever consider doing, or have you ever, just done a “Ask Warren” segment where readers can pick your brain on issues of the day?

  14. debs says:

    what is just baffling is what will it take?
    if Warren is correct and the Duffy scandal just blows over….then we have to ask canadians what type of scandal would cause them enough outrage to demand change.

    this is just so sad, that the media can be controlled, and that the politicians pulling the strings do have the ability to change the channel so readily. The list of scandals Harper has created or been a part of… that have made the light of day… makes me wonder how many he has managed to bury.
    *anyone seen his wife lately:P*
    joking about covering up murder, but seriously canadians should be able to expect more from their leaders.

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