04 July 2006

The Scarlet Pumpernickel

The seek him here.

They seek him there.

But Harvey Hodder - otherwise known as the Speaker of the House of Assembly - only seems to turn up at the oddest of moments during the scandal in his precincts over alleged misappropriation of over $4.0 million of public money.

Hodder stayed silent when the story broke and did absolutely nothing in response to alleged misappropriations that occured right under his nose. Instead, Hodder surrendered his authority as Speaker of the legislature to the Premier and cabinet.

Hodder popped up briefly last week to criticize some of his fellow politicians for their taste in jewelry.
"I don't know why anybody would want to wear these gaudy looking rings, but that's their business," Hodder said.
He brandished one of the rings, supposedly turned in by a House staff member.

Then the lawyer for the former financial director of the legislature told reporters that Hodder had been visiting the fellow in hospital attempting to elicit a confession. Mr. Speaker was acting oddly if not downright suspiciously, especially given that in another interview with CBC, Mr. Speaker Hodder fingered his own former employee as the guy at the centre of the scandal. Hodder conveniently forgot to point out that he had responsibility for supervising the House and its operations.

Surprisingly, Hodder stopped doing interviews after those two self-inflicted wounds.

That is, he stopped speaking to news media until Tuesday, two days after a story appeared in The Independent that inaccurately conveyed some information about members of the legislature and their allowances and spending. Indignant Mr. Speaker demanded unsold copies be withdrawn and a new front page be printed with a full retraction.

Tough talk from a weak Speaker who has demonstrated repeatedly these past two years he is nothing short of incompetent in discharging the considerable responsibilities he holds. Too bad Hodder didn't discover his backbone a few weeks ago when this mess first appeared.

As if that feeble display were not enough, Mr. Speaker's condescending tone about rings - at a time when only Liberals had fessed up to owning them - was shown to be ill-timed if not downright disingenuous.

It seems that seven of his colleagues from the Progressive Conservative caucus have gold rings. That means Harvey likely knew all about the rings some time ago; the House is just too small a place to hide such "gaudy" adornments from notice. But here's the bit that makes the story even more lame for the Speaker: one of the confessed ring-holders is none other than Roger Fitzgerald, deputy speaker of the House and a member of the House's Internal Economy Commission.

Harvey Hodder might just want to resign now and save us all the further waste of time and himself from further embarrassment. His little effort to right wrongs at The Independent couldn't have been more inappropriate or misplaced than if it was done by Daffy himself in the classic 1950s Looney Tunes adventure.