Nunatsiaq News
LETTERS: Around the Arctic March 04, 2013 - 9:00 am

No faith in integrity of Parliament, Senators

"I just hope Dennis Patterson can produce a Nunavut health card and driver's license"


In my life over the years I have often heard cynical and disgruntled Canadians periodically describe our politicians as being dishonest, self-interested and even sometimes as being crooks.

I have never believed those types of accusations, and have faithfully held on to the altruistic notion that these individuals are honest people with deeply held convictions who would never attempt to mislead their fellow citizens for political or personal gain.

Unfortunately, the recent shenanigans going on in Parliament and the Senate have caused me to lose faith and to conclude that those other Canadians really had it right all along.

Let me start first with Parliament.  I saw on television today that federal government documents were released showing that a directive was given to Employment Insurance investigators that they each needed to uncover and reclaim this year about $450,000 in EI payments given out fraudulently, erroneously or otherwise under false pretences.

This type of directive can only be characterized as a “quota,” meaning simply that inspectors are expected to find that amount of misappropriated funds, and a failure to do so would be seen as a disappointment.

This will no doubt be perceived as a controversial initiative, but one that could plausibly be defended by an honest and principled politician in the difficult fiscal climate facing our country.

However, instead of being honest and principled, the minister of Human Resources, Diane Finlay, refused to characterize the amounts stated in the directive as “quotas” but, instead, stated that they should be seen as “targets.”

This attempt to draw some kind of distinction between the two has to be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard.  What is even more astonishing is that this minister of the crown thinks that the Canadian people are so bereft of intelligence and common sense to think that a “target” is something different than a “quota,” which she feels she cannot admit to for political reasons.

This makes no sense, but let me move on to the Senate.

In the Senate, there is Pamela Wallin, Dennis Patterson of Nunavut and Mike Duffy, among others, who have rightfully been brought under scrutiny for claiming expenses for living in jurisdictions where they are essentially never seen.

To his credit, Mike Duffy finally grasped some moral fibre and told Canadians that he would be returning the money that he had wrongfully claimed. Sadly, Pamela Wallin and Dennis Patterson have chosen to feed our mistrust of political leaders by sticking to their guns and attempting to sell what cannot be sold, let alone swallowed, by intelligent people.

We have now learned that Ms. Wallin possesses an Ontario health card, yet she steadfastly maintains that she has always been a good Saskatchewan girl who resides in that province.

Mr. Patterson claims that he lives in Nunavut but residents state that they never see him, except when he is accompanying minister Aglukkaq for political announcements.  To assuage suspicions on the part of Nunavummiut, Mr. Patterson states that he has conducted his affairs “within the rules.”

With the greatest respect, that sounds more like a wealthy businessman defending the use of a tax loophole than a political leader bequeathed with the solemn responsibility of defending the public interest.

In the end, I just hope that Dennis Patterson can produce a Nunavut health card and driver’s license.  Please Dennis, my faith in our political leaders and institutions hangs in the balance.

(Name withheld by request)

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