Bob, reformed

Bob Wakeham
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If I could locate the home addresses of Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin (their postal codes are apparently a challenge for even the most sophisticated of GPS gizmos), I’d immediately send the two journalists-turned-senators a maple syrupy card in recognition of the recent, profound contribution they’ve made to this country of ours.   

In fact, I might even take up a collection from Canadians from coast to coast, Newfoundlanders to Lotus-landers, to purchase thank you presents for those two dedicated public servants in appreciation for their fine work (gift ideas might include: for Ms.Wallin: the services of a ghost writer to cobble together a gossipy tell-all story of why the much ballyhooed television union of the former CTV star and Mother Corp’s saintly Peter Mansbridge back in the 1990s was such a colossal flop; and, for Mr. Duffy, an hourly supply of greasy fries made from P.E.I. spuds).

Whatever it takes to say thanks, a merci from this bilingual country for achieving what so many others have failed to achieve: convincing Canadians that the Senate, that trough of patronage, that useless, archaic body of “sober” second thought (I’d prefer the senators were always half-cut; they might supply at least a bit of comic relief) should be carved off and sunk in the Rideau Canal.

Now I, for one, am particularly proud that it has taken the extraordinary, selfless efforts of two former journalists, once members of my exalted profession, to finally bring the Senate to its knees.

When Duffy and Wallin first left the media trenches and defected to the dark side, I took passionate umbrage; in fact, I was at my sanctimonious worst and concluded they were traitors to the journalistic cause, had been bought off by Stephen Harper; that, after years of high-profile roles in the watchdog brigade of the parliamentary press gallery, keeping an eye on government waste, they had grabbed the big dollars, the big pension, and made a beeline for Hypocrisy Hill.  

It would have been bad enough, I thought, to have prostituted their reportorial skills and sold them to the highest bidder and followed the route of many a soulless journalist and become a flack, an executive assistant, a spin doctor, a stooge. But to do what they did, to disgracefully plunk their arses down in the Senate? Well, that was as low as a reporter could possibly go.     

But I’ve had a change of heart, an epiphany, you might say. And I now believe this was actually a laudable plan thought up by Duffy and Wallin to bring down the Senate, a brilliant undercover job performed by two dedicated reporters willing to fall on their swords in order to save Canada.

Of course I should have recognized before now the wonderful assignment Canada’s Woodward and Bernstein had volunteered to take on. But my eyes were closed shut, my vision blurred by a case of cynical pinkeye, a 40-year old case, in fact, caused, in part, by listening to the late Ray Guy’s advice on how to treat politicians.     

About a month ago, though, I was forced, in no uncertain terms, to look in the mirror and see the error of my shocking ways.

And it came about in a mid-week column in The Telegram some of you may have read, written by the fine gentleman who also authors the pieces that appear just a few inches to the left of me on Saturdays.

Yes, it was Russell Wangersky, the editor of my own meagre contributions, who placed me not so delicately on the path to journalistic decency, an illustration of the fact that it’s never too late to learn.

Pastor Russell took me to task for what he believed was my implication that journalists are always as pure as the driven snow while politicians are always foul and sinful; apparently, I should be dipped in scalding ink for daring to sketch journalists as infallible in their dealings with politicians.           

According to The Right Reverend Russell’s sermon, to espouse such beliefs is to step into (clash of cymbals here) the “land of jingoistic polemic.”

Now, perhaps there are many of you out there who understand clearly what that means. I’m still not sure, and thought seriously about calling my old friend Rex Murphy to see if he had a clue.

I do know that it doesn’t sound very nice.

In fact, I’ve concluded that it’s a bad thing, a very, very bad thing. Worse still, it has provoked episodes of bullying; several of my so-called friends have taken to referring to me as “Jingoistic Unchained.” Oh, the horror.  

The bottom line is that I have been cut down to size. And it’s worked.      

No more jingoistic polemic for this guy!    

Thus my take on Mr. Mike and Ms. Pam: they’re not too little piggies with their noses in the trough; they’re actually investigative journalists who have sacrificed themselves for the betterment of all Canadians.  

Prior to being born again, I also would have pooped on the suggestion in some circles of late that Newfoundland might want to consider a Tory Senator as our representative in the federal cabinet, an opening, as you know, created when an insufficient number of Labradorians bought into Peter Penashue’s unsavoury sales pitch.  

The old Bob would have commented that not even desperation should cause us to seek a Harper-appointed puppet, a bum kisser, as our man in Ottawa.

But that was before I was taken to the top of the mountain of veracity and scruples by Monsignor Russell.

The old me might have even suggested that the only decent senator from Newfoundland is Colin Greening.  

But I’ve mended my ways, brothers and sisters.  

Blessed are those who see politicians in a new light, a clearer light, a fairer light.


Bob Wakeham has spent more than 40 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by email at

Organizations: CTV

Geographic location: Rideau Canal, Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Tim
    May 25, 2013 - 12:19

    All hail the infallible Bob Wakeham. Not really.