That accused plagiarist, Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente doesn’t like the Senate. She thinks it is a nuisance. Writing about the Mike Duffy trial recently she opines: “Maybe this peanut- sized scandal will give us an excuse to hog-tie and horn-swoggle the lot of them (senators) so they can do no further harm.”
Wente’s ludicrous comment is just one example of the hysteria–defined in my Oxford dictionary as “wild uncontrollable emotion or excitement”–of the media coverage of the trial of former media star Senator Mike Duffy, who in court facing 31 criminal charges associated with expense claims he has filed since he was appointed to the Red Chamber in what CBC’s Evan Solomon claims is “the trial of the century.”
Never mind that most Senators are going about their business, correcting errors in legislation, serving on committees and following up on complaints and issues that MP’s are too busy to deal with and filing their travel expenses as defined by Treasury Board without incident or media coverage. All Senators, according to the media, are patronage pigs lining their pockets with taxpayers’ money.
Let’s turn the tables here.
In September 2012,Wente was accused of committing plagiarism- -defined by my Oxford dictionary as “to take or use another’s thoughts or writings etc as one’s own”– by lifting quotes and rewording passages from published sources without credit. The Globe and Mail’s public editor addressed the allegations, conceding that “there appears to be some truth to the accusations but not on every charge,” according to Wikipedia.
Curiously I have been unable to find any evidence that politicians and commentators at the time subsequently labeled all members of the Fourth Estate as ” plagiarists” who were unworthy of the public trust and who should be “hog-tied and horn-swoggled” so they can do no public harm. To do so would be as ludicrous as Wente’s hyperbole.
And no media commentator has rushed to point out that both Duffy and television host Sen Pamela Wallin, whose expenses are also being investigated by the RCMP are products of their media culture, not a political one. Are you listening, Don Martin?
More seriously, no commentator, in my view, has reported that a Senator’s prime role, enshrined in our Constitution, is to represent his/her region in order to represent its unique interests, or to protect those interests from the unruly majority in the House of Commons. That is why Senators must be residents of that region so that they are more likely to identify regional needs and views.
Oxford defines “residence” as “place where one resides.”
There may be ways to improve Senate rules and regulations hamstringing senators’ ability to represent their region’s interests. In the meantime, as a proud westerner I invite Wente to show off her hog-tying and horn-swoggling skills. That would be worth the price of a ticket.