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The Melfort Journal, June 6, 2006

Scandals and scroundrels

by Shelley Tomlinson

Liberal leadership contender Joe Volpe returned $27,000 in donations he received from some minor children.

According to recent reports in Canada’s national dailies, Volpe received five donations of $5,400 each from contributors under the age of 18. The legal monetary limit of a donation to a leadership campaign is $5,400.

There’s been a slight controversy surrounding the contributions and Volpe has decided to return the money so that the perception of integrity remains intact.

Does it really matter if integrity remains intact or if he quietly keeps the money?

Politics is about money and buying votes. It’s about selling your belief system and the next day nobody really caring because there’s another “scandal” close at hand.

Peter Mackay, if anyone wishes to remember, became the final leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.

He sold his integrity to win the leadership in the fourth round of the campaign. He won by making a backroom deal with David Orchard.

Mackay promised he would not unite the right if Orchard promised to throw his supporters votes over to Mackay in the final round.

By the following federal election in June 2004 there was no such thing as the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.

The Progressive Conservatives ceased to exist because Pete Mackay decided to ignore his deal with David Orchard and unite the right. Not that I’m bitter that Pete Mackay ignored his own promises and completely destroyed the Progressive Conservative Party.

On his website, Pete Mackay said after becoming leader he “realized” that the merger of the two parties was the only way to offer Canadians an alternative to the Liberal Party.

So, Pete Mackay lied. Or, sorry, he “realized” the error of his ways.

And how was he rewarded? Within two years of becoming leader of a now defunct party and merging the two right-wing parties, Mackay was rewarded with a plum Cabinet post.

He is no longer earning the puny base salary of lowly backbench MP’s (for those who care: nearly $150,000 a year) but he also gets a substantial bonus (read: an extra $70,800 a year).

Note to self: in order to earn a substantial raise and promotion, promise to do one thing and then do the exact opposite all the while pretending you only changed your mind about the issue after the initial promise was made.

Although, I guess, all these scandals are better than the alternative. At least there’s a veneer of respectability and an attempt to remain trustworthy.

The alternative would be a tyranny where the government simply did what they wanted without even caring about image.

Shelley Tomlinson is a reporter with The Melfort Journal.

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