Why all of the fuss about MPs sharing their expenses? Rex thinks they should have started doing this long ago.

 

Read the transcript of this Rex Murphy Episode

Rex Murphy

May 20, 2010

When Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton are of one inexplicable mind on the same issue, either the Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse (thank-you, John Crosbie) are saddling up, or the very last, lonely, sad scrap of simple common sense has - bruised, dejected and defeated - departed Parliament Hill forever.

 

Why are our politicians afraid of Shelia Fraser? Why is Shelia Fraser allowed to look into every corner of government spending, summon whole departments and flocks of deputy ministers, not welcome to look into the public expenses of people elected by the public, who are spending the public's money?

 

They have lost what they ludicrously call their minds.  Their brains are on prorogation. They have been talking about busty hookers and borrowed Ferraris for so long they have no minds left to think with.

 

Stonewalling the Auditor General is the dumbest - absolutely the dumbest - political move in the history of Canadian politics.  A bag of rocks in caucus with a sack of hammers would easily have figured out that the Auditor General of Parliament is the person to audit Members of Parliament.

 

They're for transparency and accountability, but not for them. Michael Ignatieff, who finds a new way to bewilder the Canadian public every passing day, has offered the perplexing comment that the voters are not interested in the "dinner receipts" of MPs. Well, cry me a river of Ch√Ęteau Lafite Rothschild.   Maybe, pass the caviar, maybe the Canadian public is.

 

Jack Layton and the NDP's position is, if anything, more curious.  Those who scourge the banks and Bay Street, who howl at the moon over capitalism's every greedy excess, surely cannot be arguing AGAINST the scrutiny of the Auditor General when it comes to their expenditures of the public coin.

 

And Stephen Harper, economist, one-time populist Reformer - remember when Reformers used to eat at Wendy's to spare the taxpayer - surely Stephen Harper, flayer of Liberals during sponsorship, is not disagreeable to Shelia Fraser looking at his MPs' frugal outlay.

 

Can they not see how odd, shifty, condescending, privileged, one rule for thee another for me, this makes them look?

 

"Oh, we have outside accountants looking at our expenses.  Shelia Fraser's, you know, good enough for everyone else, but we're MPs, can't have the Auditor General for all of Canada peering into our business." 

 

Outside of Custer's last stand, and Joe Clark's immortal determination to "govern as if I have a majority", this is the most exuberant embrace of imminent self-destruction on record.

 

There are a couple of MPs, it is worth noting, that have not turned off the lights before throwing their brains out the window.   For the rest of them, and especially the three party leaders, they are stumbling around in a self-induced twilight of hypocrisy and doublespeak - so far out to lunch (no receipts required) it's doubtful, however plumply nourished, they'll ever find their way back again.

 

They're afraid of Shelia Fraser; maybe they have reason to be.

 

For The National, I'm Rex Murphy.