Maritime Morning aired an interview this morning by host Jordi Morgan of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. After the interview aired, Morgan explained that the interview took place under “certain conditions”, likely that the PM would come on if he got the chance to talk about the Throne Speech and the big Canada-Europe trade deal. The interview was taped on Friday. The brief interview started there but finished with this exchange on the Senate. (I have bolded the line that raised eyebrows in Ottawa):
MORGAN: … this unholy mess in the Senate. Senators are voting on the expulsion of Senators Wallin, Duffy, and Brazeau, all your appointments. What responsibility for all this lies with your office?
HARPER: I think the responsibility whenever things go wrong is for us to take appropriate action. As you know I had a chief of staff who made an inappropriate payment to Mr. Duffy. He was dismissed. And you know I think quite frankly, all of us, both in the Senate and the rest of the government, we have been very, very patient as these Senators have been audited, as all of the facts have been looked into and I think the fact of the matter is, Jordi — I know this is the view of the majority of Conservative senators, I think it’s the majority of all Conservatives, it’s certainly all Canadians, that when you have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in inappropriate expenses — and that is clear — that there’s appropriate sanction on your job.
If you did that in private life, you would not be continuing to be paid by your employer so I think it’s appropriate, as do a majority of our senators, that the senate take action.
And look, right now we’ve got Liberal senators trying to delay a vote. We just say let the Senate vote and let the Senate’s will be heard on this. But I think most people do want to take action.
MORGAN: And what does this mean for the future of the Senate?
HAPRER: Well, look, we’ll see. The government’s view continues to be that the Senate has to be reformed. We need to see it elected over time. We need to see the terms of the Senate shortened so people are more accountable. THis matter, as you know, is before the courts but in the meantime — look, I think it would be a great thing, Jordi, if in the meantime — the Senate took disciplinary action. There has been a view in the Senate, a long historic view — and there’s a few people who still believe it, even in our party — that the only standard of sitting in the Senate that you’ve not been convicted of a crime. And I’m sorry that is just not good enough when you have collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in inappropriate expenses and it’s taken a year to get to the bottom of this, I think people expect action. I think if the Senate took action, the Senate would be showing some willingness to reform itself.
Harper also did an interview with John Tory on Talk Radio 1010. You can listen here.
He also spoke to John Gormley of Saskatoon’s NewsTalk 650 CKOM on Friday.