Dr. Dawg

Senate malfeasance, Bob Rae and "due process"

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Bob Rae thunderously Tweeted this morning that Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau are being “railroaded” by Stephen Harper. I ventured to suggest that Rae was defending the indefensible, to which he patronizingly replied: “Not at all. I’m defending something called due process.”

Now, what would that “due process” consist of? To Rae, it means waiting until the current investigations are concluded. But why this double standard for Senators that doesn’t apply to other public workers?

The proposal before the Senate is to suspend the Ottawa Three without pay. As a lawyer and mediator, Rae is entirely aware that workers in the public service can be suspended without pay while an investigation is on-going. (See last paragraph in point 3 of the Appendix at the link.) One major difference is that managers do the suspending in those cases, whereas the Senators in question are in the process of being judged by their peers.

Just talk to federal government employee Sylvie Therrien if you want to find out how this works for ordinary folk. She’s been suspended without pay since last May. But the Ottawa Three have been collecting their pay and benefits as usual, minus reparations for improper expense claims.

Now their fellow Senators want to give them proper suspensions. And there is Bob Rae, wagging his finger at them. From here, it looks like a classic case of “two weights and two measures.”

As a lawyer, Rae will also know that there is no breach of due process here, any more than there is in the case of a public worker sent home while investigations continue. In the latter case, if the person is cleared, all pay and benefits are restored. There is no reason to believe that this would not also be the case if investigations were to clear the Ottawa Three. Moreover, the Senators will have full opportunity to state their side of the story during the debate.

“Due process” means, in a nutshell, that the rules in place must be followed. If the Senate is abandoning its rules and acting arbitrarily or capriciously, then it needs to be called on that. But what rules are being flouted in this instance?

I am not a lawyer, so perhaps the lawyers who visit here from time to time might be able to cast a little light on Rae’s claim. But at this point it looks to me somewhat like special pleading.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on October 21, 2013 6:35 PM.

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