Senator Duffy scandal: Harper's culture damaging to Canadian values
The mere FACT that PM Harper's now former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, being who he is, could hand over a $90,000 cheque to Senator Mike Duffy is alarming for its far broader implications.
Some of these implications are:
a) that Stephen Harper is so bold in his sense of dominance that he can tolerate or even invite this act, without concerning himself overmuch about the repercussions;
b) that his world is so populated with moneyed individuals that an unnecessary and entirely discretionary cheque for $90,000 in today's economic and political climate can be a casual thing (SH's own current net worth is estimated at $5 million);
c) he knew this would catch the public's eye, and perhaps he sacrificed (in a very modest sense) Nigel Wright's position as a distraction from other, more critical issues he chooses to ignore (e.g. the 400 ppm of CO2 and many others);
d) he has communicated such a sense of immunity to those around him, through past demonstration of fierce defense of his "own", that they feel enabled (in the Alcoholics Anonymous sense) in such behaviour, knowing that "the boss" will always back them and bail them out, not matter what scandalous things they do;
e) Nigel Wright won't go far, as he is too valuable and committed to the PM's ideology for Stephen Harper to let him go far.
The PM is not the first to allow partisanship to get out of hand. But he is one of the most fiercely ideological leaders we have seen, and one of the most coldly efficient at using the overly-centralized power of the PMO to achieve his political goals. This event, as I see it, is just a spill-over from that underlying and relentless drive -- a bit of minor collateral damage on the road to his darker ends.
It wouldn't matter so much if this wasn't the 21st century -- but it is. There are 7 billion of us, and we are clearly (and negatively) affecting the functions and behaviour of this planetary home of ours, because of practices that Stephen Harper wants to expand and amplify. Now such an effective and skilful manipulator of power is a tremendous liability and threat to us all -- and especially to future generations.
One further thing: the idea that Harper might not have known what was happening is absurd -- he is incredibly interested in anything that goes on around him, and in its potential impact on his plans. The fact that he didn't nix the deal, or try and bury the exchange of $$ more effectively, bears out the remarks above, in my opinion.
Groups develop cultures of their own -- every single one does so; it's part of our human condition.
The only way to avoid this is to be part of a group, but allow oneself to think like a perpetual outsider.
Most people don't do this, preferring the false but reassuring sense of '"belonging".
Harper's "culture" (and he's a culture breeder for sure -- strong, forceful, intelligent, persuasive, articulate, convinced he's correct and driven -- as was [ahem...] Jimmy Jones) is becoming more concretized and established, and hence more visible, despite his notorious obfuscations and distortions of language.
This event, it seems to me, is simply the outcome of that culture -- rarified, abstracted from the norm of larger society, and hence destructive of broader values and higher societal needs.