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Canadian political scandals make for great TV

At Issue panel on CBC’s The National

Canadian political scandals surely lack the sordidness of their American counterparts. (Our politicians tend not to tap dance in airport men’s rooms, or use taxpayer money to woo mistresses in Argentina.) But At Issue, the political panel on CBC’s The National, was able to find enough grist for their annual Best and Worst Picks of the parliamentary season.

In the category of Worst Political Play, panellist Andrew Coyne, national editor for MacLean’s, chose Harper’s “dictatorial” prorogation of parliament. Pollster and pundit Allan Gregg chose the damning testimony of Rahim Jaffer, a former MP (and alleged cocaine and hooker aficionado.) Chantel Hébert, national affairs columnist for The Toronto Star, went with Michael Ignatieff’s “feeble” handling of the rumoured coalition with the NDP.

As for the Most Shamelessly Exploited Issue, Gregg picked Harper wanting to change the sexist lyrics of O Canada to appease female voters, Hébert nominated the renewed abortion debate, while Coyne chose the Liberals’ flip-flop on the firing of disgraced MP (and Charlottetown-hater) Helena Guergis.

The top award of the night, for the Worst PR Disaster of the political season, was hotly debated by the panellists. Coyne went with MPs refusing to have their expenses audited, Gregg picked prorogation, and Hébert went with the $57,000 “Fake Lake” built for the upcoming G8/G20 summits.

While parliament is adjourned for the summer recess, let’s hope for some fresh scandals in the fall, hopefully involving illegitimate offspring, inappropriate tickle fights, illicit text messages, secret sex tapes, stained clothing or prostitution rings.

An encore presentation of the At Issue wrap panel airs June 12 at 3:30 and 8:30 p.m. PST on CBC News Network, and is available at

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