Times in Trail: Scandal makes Senate look more like ‘Survivor’

Managing editor Guy Bertrand shares his impression of the ongoing Senate scandal.

If the common saying is “the truth is stranger than fiction,” then perhaps an appropriate summation of the ongoing Senate scandal could be “the reality is stranger than reality TV.”

The twists and turns of this saga hit yet another curve on Tuesday when beleaguered Senator Mike Duffy took direct aim at Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

It was an interesting twist on this sordid affair of background deals and cover-ups that has thrown an otherwise little-known Senate into the same mud pit where we usually find members of the House of Commons.

With that mud-slinging image in mind, it’s hard for me not to liken this saga to another season of “Survivor,” where, for those unfamiliar with the long-running reality show, people are left on an island to battle it out to determine the sole survivor.

Parliament Hill is often regarded as more of an Ivory Tower than a tropical island but leave it to politicians and their friends to drag it into the realm of another reality TV spin-off.

Just a few months ago Duffy was painted as the evildoer in this whole affair. His bogus living expenses, a payoff from a government insider, his refusal to vacate his plush Senate seat and his history of unabashedly promoting Harper and the ruling Conservative Party, which appointed him to his cushy position, all added up to a spoiled political insider feeding at the taxpayer’s trough.

As the public backlash grew, it was only a matter of time when he, and other senators like Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau, were sent off to Exile Island (the reality show’s version of a last chance) to remain in Purgatory until they were deemed fit enough by the Prime Minister and his Senate lackeys to return to the game.

On the other hand we had Prime Minister Harper travelling the globe, admonishing countries for a lack of human rights, playing the big guy on the block and very publicly boycotting an economic summit and trumpeting his financial acumen by landing a free trade deal with the European Union.

It’s funny that the very same people Harper was hoping to help with his attack on cable TV packages in his Throne Speech are the ones anxiously tuning in to see what happens next in “Senate Survivor.”

And as quick as last week’s episode was in the books the producers of this Canadian-made reality show threw in another plot twist this week.

Duffy’s revelation in the Senate that he was pressured into taking the blame for his expenses by the Prime Minister and chastising his fellow senators for simply towing the party line in a “chamber of sober second thought,” turned the entire dialogue on the Senate scandal on its ear.

I found it ironic that six months ago people were calling for Duffy to be expelled from the Senate, turfed from his cushy job and basically doom him to the annals of history as one of those greedy senators like Raymond Lavigne who is still serving time for fraud.

Meanwhile, although Harper has slipped in the polls, he stuck to his strategy of avoiding answering tough questions, blaming the media for ignoring other issues and simply moving forward steadfastly despite surrounded by controversy.

Of course his bid to suspend senators left those in his cross-hairs with little option but to fight back rather than stay silent. That prompted Duffy’s pointed speech on Tuesday.

Now a CBC viewer poll on Wednesday morning was asking people, “Who do you trust more, Stephen Harper or Mike Duffy?”

Sounds like a lose-lose question. And to liken it for those familiar with “Survivor,” Duffy has gone from the show’s iconic villain, Russell Hantz, to a fan favourite like Rupert Boneham.

Meanwhile, Harper retains the persona of Brandon Hantz, Russell’s nephew, who tried his best to find faith, save his family name and lead others to victory but eventually succumbed to his old underhanded ways and was exposed for what is really brewing behind the facade.

Just like “Survivor,” the end result is nobody trusts anyone and they all eventually throw each other under the bus.

The sad truth of the matter is while families across the country struggle to make ends meet, United Nations’ observer chastises the federal government for ignoring aboriginal issues and the chorus against the future of our natural resources continues to grow, our leaders are stuck, like many cable channels, on the rise and fall of a popular ongoing reality show.

With that mind, it’s appropriate to compare the Canadian voters to the all-powerful tribal council on “Survivor.” Although members of the tribal council were all victims of backroom alliances or underhanded dealings at one point or another as the saga played out week after week, they do have the final say when the show reaches its climax.

In the case of “Senate Survivor,” the finale will no doubt be the 2015 federal election.

That’s when the Canadian voter will be the determining factor that will decide who survives this soap opera/reality show and, judging by the current sate of politics in Canada, gets to appear in the future episodes, albeit as a villain not a favourite.

Guy Bertrand is the managing editor of the Trail Times.

Just Posted

Protestors blocking Columbia Avenue Saturday evening. Photo: Betsy Kline
Old growth protesters begin 24-hour blockade of Castlegar’s main street

Members of Extinction Rebellion plan to stay overnight

Forty sled dogs were seized by the BC SPCA from a Salmo kennel in February. A recent ruling has decided the dogs won’t be returned. Photo: Gounsil/Flickr
BC Farm Industry Review Board rules against Salmo kennel after 40 sled dogs seized

Spirit of the North Kennels was also ordered to pay BC SPCA $64,000

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

SD20 now has an electric bus. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay-Columbia School District 20 adds electric bus to fleet

Bus will be incorporated into Castlegar route for next school year

Painting by Dave Davies from Shaver’s Bench facing Teck Trail.
Happy 120th Birthday to the City of Trail!

The town of Trail Creek- or Trail Creek Landing - was incorporated as a city on June 14, 1901.

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read