“As useless as tits on a boar hog.” “As necessary as a cavity in my mouth.”
What could we be talking about?
These are only some of the milder opinions that the Senate of Canada has recently inspired. I myself regret that I used January’s column to condemn us all for digging ourselves into debt, while members of the Red Chamber use our tax dollars and cents to abuse their travel expenses and housing allowance claims. Four senators are currently under investigation. But do you think we will hear how the ever-growing scandal ends? No way.
In the Senate’s long history, the Auditor General has been allowed through the Chamber’s doors only twice, and this is not likely to be the third time. Instead, private accounting firm Deloitte Touche has been given the task of looking at the books, which almost certainly means the public will never learn where our public money went. Given that every year $500 million come out of taxpayers’ coffers to fund MPs, Senators, and Parliament operations, it should be within our rights to demand that records are transparent and always ready for inspection.
Studying for the citizenship test three years ago, I learned that Senators are not elected, but appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister. Alarm bells started ringing in my head: In terms of representation, how is this democratic and fair? Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, described the Senate as a body of “sober second thought” that would curb the “democratic excesses” of the elected House of Commons.
One such democratic excess must have been the bill for cheap generic AIDS drugs for Africa that, despite opposition by Harper’s minority government, reached the Senate in 2011. Just as easily as the democratically elected House had passed it, the unelected Conservative majority in the Senate trashed it. And it was only a year before that the House passed a bill to take action on climate change, but the Senate buried it without debate. Of course, this must have been another “democratic excess” that the Senate had to curb… Oh, yeah? I’d say Big Oil and Big Pharma enjoy a great relationship with Harper.
This month I also learned that in Uganda, homosexuals are viciously persecuted and thrown in jail, and that Ottawa funds an anti-gay religious group to go work there. Crossroads Christian Communications, an Ontario-based evangelical organization, is using $544,813 of taxpayers’ “wealth” to help dig wells, build latrines and spread awareness on hygiene. I’d consider this pretty admirable if it wasn’t for the group’s extreme “faith and values.”
Until questions were raised by The Canadian Press, Crossroads’ website denounced homosexuality and lesbianism as sins and perversions, and “sinners” were asked to repent before it’s too late. Crossroads Christian Communications continues to defend its position on homosexuality as grounded in scripture — yikes! Well, my imagination can be pretty wild, and I have a different theory: Are the three “C’s” with a “K” sound in the group’s name pure coincidence, or rather, overtly deliberate? Google “homosexuality and Ku Klux Klan” and I’ll let you be the judge.
By now, Harper’s double standards shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. Trying to protect the tar sands, didn’t he recently declare war on Canadian organizations that get funding from abroad? So when it comes to us participating in international aid campaigns, why are we not looking at what our tax dollars are doing? This wasn’t a once-in-a-lifetime mistake; Crossroads has received government funding since before this millennium even got started.
Scandalous government spending is calling for a much closer look and even tighter reins. Effective funding mechanisms that observe Canadian values come first, and then, let’s put an end to unnecessary financial drain — the Senate does nothing for our democracy and does not belong in this day and age.