As a child, I watched the Young and the Restless with my grandmother. The gist of the storylines was always the same—the powerful and the privileged wiggled their way out of unbelievable social disasters.

An interesting social disaster is playing itself out in a courtroom behind the main doors of the Ottawa Courthouse (pictured here). That’s where Mike Duffy (a former Senator) is on trial for charges related to business expenses and $90,000 that he took from Nigel Wright (former Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper). Last week, Wright and Benjamin Perrin (Harper’s former lawyer) took the stand and their testimonies made clear that several of Harper’s senior staff (including Ray Novak, Harper’s current Chief of Staff) knew about a plan to lie to Canadians about where the $90,000 came from. Like the Young and the Restless, this storyline is *all* about the powerful and the privileged.

Now, I’m going to proffer a guess that when most Canadians get into financial jams they don’t have acquaintances that can write them personal cheques for $90,000 or money to hire highly accomplished lawyers to defend them. I’m also going to guess that of the Canadians on trial facing charges that include incarceration, a disproportionately high number of them come from communities that face systemic barriers to good wages, good working conditions, good public transportation, affordable housing, quality public education and opportunities for meaningful civic engagement. That’s the real social disaster.

So, while I’m following the Duffy trial closely–in part because it reminds me of afternoons watching Y & R with my grandmother–in this election cycle I’m far more interested in our politicians discussing how we’re going to solve these real and urgent challenges.


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