Sunday, 17 February 2013

Pamela Pit Stop

(Pamela Wallin) knows why the prime minister appointed her. She’s a celebrity senator. No one else from here gets asked to speak all over the country like she does. Not the MPs, not the other senators and when she flies to Halifax to give a talk and flies home from there to Saskatchewan, that’s considered other expenses.—Bonnie Wallin, interviewed in the Toronto Star

Pamela Wallin has been one busy Senator these days.

Call her Pamela Pit Stop.

Last week, she appeared on all of the chat shows. She wrote an op-ed piece in the Globe and Mail defending her travel expenses as a hard-working Senator. She even made herself available for a puff piece in the Toronto Star, allowing an intrepid Star trekker to follow her around her hometown, to the florist to buy flowers for mum, to the grocery store.

She’s Saint Pamela of Wadena, the prodigal daughter who sells ice cream to the natives and slathers sun lotion on her skin at the family cottage.

Maybe they buy this in Wadena, but it doesn’t wash at the Tim Horton’s in other parts of the country.

With all the staying at friends (relatives say she’s too frugal to stay at hotels) in Toronto and the driving through the snowstorms to get to holiday parties in her native land, $13,000 a month seems like a lot for travel expenses unless the person is Sir Elton John or Lindsay Lohan.

Wallin tells The Star that her myriad speaking engagements to the troops as an honorary soldier cost money. The folks at Tim Horton’s ask: who appointed you General?

Wallin says she’s a favorite speaker and campaigner on the Prime Minister’s behalf.

The folks at Tim’s ask: why should we pay for her to attend partisan potlucks?

Even if we allowed her some slack on these two points…$13K a month.?


Some Canadians don’t make that in a year.

According to The Star story, Pam needs to get around. She a bona fide “celebrity senator” and must press the flesh continuously, an ambassador for the Senate and the government.

So, we assume that means everything that celebrity entails: an entourage, hair and makeup (those nails do not do themselves!), a rider detailing the need for Fiji water and kobe beef satays, personal trainers and so on.

But surely, these things are not considered to be reasonable expenses.

So where does the money go?

She says she pays for her pit stops in Toronto out of her own pocket.

She says she rooms with buddies and doesn’t stay in hotels.

And unless she’s bringing in buckets of caviar on the Senate, one can assume she’s not spending it on food.

Has the cost of a flight to the west gone up that much since I last could afford to board one in 2008?

On behalf of the crowd at Tim’s I decided to investigate.

Looking at the Air Canada website, Pam could get a weekend excursion to Saskatoon for $485 or fly executive class for $2,826. She apparently goes to Wadena every other weekend so the total, before taxes, is either $970 or $5,652 a month.

Huh. Even with hot towels,that still leaves $7,348 a month!

Something smells and it ain’t the fresh coffee and krullers the rest of us live on.

This is what is getting up the noses of ordinary Canadians, many of whom travel for work on the cheapest flights possible and stay at the Best Western or get shit for it from their employers.

These are not salad days in this nation. Most of us are lucky to afford a last minute flight to Cuba let alone caviar dreams and champagne nights.

 With a nearly 15 percent unemployment rate among young people, and other lunch buckets just struggling to stay afloat, we don’t think Canada needs “celebrity” senators, and all that entails.

Pamela Wallin, superstar, might wear many hats "on behalf of Canadians” but the two and three jobs she takes on aren’t at Micky D’s and Walmart.

For her part, Wallin is asking for privacy while accepting interviews from all comers.

And she’s good at it.

But Joe and Josie Canadian aren’t buying what she’s selling.

Even if the good people of Wadena are.

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