"It is not the critic who counts. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short at times, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming. But who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
~ Theodore Roosevelt
The famed journalist Douglass Cater once wrote that “…the greatest threat of McCarthyite smokescreens was not to individual liberty or even to the orderly conduct of government. The greatest threat was that it corrupted the power to communicate, which is indispensable to men living in a civilized society.” I’ve written often that the Gomery effect has created just such a climate. Last week saw the corruption of our civilized society’s failure of comprehension not just communication. And I was assaulted by the politics of the big lie.
You may have heard or read that back in August of 2001 I attended a lunch where one Jean Brault claims that he left an envelope of $5000 on the table in front of our host Mr. Joseph Morselli. Brault claimed that Morselli asked him to put me on his payroll because I was a valued fundraiser needed by the federal Liberal Party to help its Quebec wing but that I had left the Montreal offices after a dispute with party bureaucrats. Brault went on to state that that he made another four such payments in the following months. That’s the version much of the media reported.
What much of the media failed to report was the full extent of Brault’s testimony.
What went on in conversations between Brault and Morselli I cannot account for. What Mr. Morselli told me as the reason for the lunch was that Mr. Brault needed someone to introduce his communications firm to certain companies in the Anglophone and ethnic communities and that he had recommended me. And precisely because I had left the Liberal Party two months earlier I was free to do so.
The part of Mr. Brault’s testimony that much of the media left out of its reports was the part that substantiated what Mr. Morselli had said to me. Brault did state that when he arrived he allegedly put an envelope with $5000 in front of Mr. Morselli. But he went on to explain that I was not there. I was late. He and Morselli spoke for a half hour. Brault got up to go to the washroom. When he returned I had arrived and he said that the fabled envelope was not there.
Brault confirmed that I had never asked him for any money. He said that our conversation was cordial and concerned the efforts he wanted me to make with certain companies. Precisely as Mr. Morselli had told me would be the purpose of the lunch. I named a figure as a retainer which Brault found high, but he said he would reconsider if I tried to make two or three phone calls and see if there were interests that could be pursued. He confirmed that I called him after ten days. Told him there was no interest. And that we never saw or talked again until a cocktail party five months later.
In short, he never accused me of anything. Neither asking for money nor taking any. I neither saw nor took any envelopes. And since he said he did not see me, or hear from me again, for five months, those alleged four other payments were certainly not received by me. And there was no discussion of Liberal party business or government affairs.
What the media also failed to report from Brault’s testimony was that I had severed all ties to the Liberal Party two months earlier. I was thoroughly disgusted with it after a six month project trying to bring cultural community representatives into the Party at responsible positions, not just as campaign workers or purchasers of tickets for party fundraisers. But I faced such reactionary, almost racist, opposition from inside the bureaucracy that a heated confrontation occurred and I left. When I met Brault I was running my own Institute, free to take on whatever work I wanted.
Finally, the most egregious omission by the media was its failure in its reporting to caution the public that Mr. Brault is under criminal indictment and that it is not uncommon for those in his position to make deals with Crown prosecutors. Those deals lead to testimony characterized by the widest possible detailed specificity - whether those details are true or not - in order to establish more seeming credibility. And the more seeming credibility, the more apparent legitimacy there is to be exploited by the Crown.
This episode exposes the vile malignancy of the Gomery process. It’s all about the insidious viruses of invective and innuendo. Unsubstantiated hearsay. Guilt by association. Testimony built on half-truths. All the ingredients for character assassination. Justice Minister Cotler raged recently about the lack of respect for the principle of presumption of innocence the opposition demonstrated for the Liberal Party in Parliament. Perhaps this Commission - the creation of this Liberal government - should respect this very same principle that Minister Cotler rightfully holds so dear.
Despite having nothing to hide, and not having even been accused of anything, I was counseled by many to just let this pass and remain silent. That it was just politics as usual. It was just the mention of my name. But I felt that if I did not speak out I would be betraying the very words I had written – and the very warnings we had issued - not only on Gomery, but on the whole issue of state rape. The brutal intrusions to - and the cavalier treatment of - our individual liberties and Charter protections by a government acting shamelessly without restraint of consequence cloaked always in the facades of false pieties.
This process has been nothing other than state sanctioned public political executions for the diversion of the masses. The very nature of its mandate, stripped of the inherent protections of the rule of law, could have made it nothing else. An unholy construct born of mendacity that will crumble from the corrosion of its own inherent legal illegitimacy.
Illegitimate because if there was wrongdoing, the RCMP and Justice systems should have been allowed to finish the work they had already started within the appropriate legal frameworks. Illegitimate because the establishment of the Commission by Order-in-Council implicitly violated the section 7 guarantees in our Charter of Rights that demand that all state authority be exercised along the principles of “fundamental justice”, the definition of which, according to Justice John Sopinka in the seminal Stinchcombe decision of 1990, includes “disclosure of all relevant information by government authorities in order to allow for full answer and defence. This is one of the pillars of our justice system.” Illegitimate because the Commission is respecting none of that, and has become nothing more than a witch-hunt.
Canadians have in recent years been subject to the tendency to suffer through extreme treatment - whether in criminal justice, domestic security or revenue collection – to the point where the United Nations recently named Canada one of the ten most controlled and controlling societies in the free world. Many of our rights, particularly that of privacy, have been sacrificed for the supposed necessity of the conduct of the processes of government and protection from foreign threats. In fact these have been, with rare exceptions, mere excuses for greater tax collection, career advancements and political revenge.
The risk, the great and agonizing danger in our system, is that our citizens get caught in a treadmill. While seeking elusive administrative and legal remedies against prejudices they have suffered, their constitutional rights are compromised by the intolerably long process of legal procedures. Relief often comes too late. The effort implodes from its own weight. We are in danger of allowing the administration of justice to be, in the words of Viscount Buckmaster, “ …a mystery to the uninitiated and a snare to the unwary… “
If we have to live our lives weighing every action, every communication, every human contact - including an innocent lunch -wondering what agents of the state might find out about it, how they would analyse it, judge it, tamper with it, and somehow use it to our detriment, we are not truly free. As Felix Frankfurter put it,” The security of one’s actions against arbitrary interpretation by the state is basic to a free society. Judgment by sole authority of law-enforcement officials is inconsistent with the conception of human rights enshrined in our history and in the basic constitutional documents of free nations.”
Over the past week I decided to speak openly to anyone in the media who called. From the CBC to the Gazette. La Presse to Le Devoir. The Globe, The Post and even Paul Arcand’s hard-hitting talk show. I knew it would be grueling and sometimes it was. But I am pleased to report that those papers that reported the story wrongly have all issued clarifications or printed my position on what happened.
I did one other thing. I wrote to our 5100 members across the country, half of whom run their own organizations of at least 500 people, and told them that I’m mad as hell and I don’t think we should take it anymore.
My message to them was simple. It was time to stop complaining, get engaged and take back our country. The response has been overwhelming and heartfelt. From bankers and trade unionists. Community activists and ethnic leaders. Businessmen and politicians. Generals and journalists. There is a broad frustration in this land with the hypocrisy we are witnessing.
We need to demand an open and honest contest for new leadership. To demand that great parties remain loyal to principled power and not to petty parochialism.
That leadership is not merely about opposing any man but about proposing needed policies. Policies that restore Canada’s pride and purpose on the world stage shouldering our fair share in democratic development. Policies that protect our most vulnerable and secure our core social security safety net. Policies that strengthen health care by ordering the direction of federal dollars without fear of blackmail from provincial hacks. Policies that relieve the yoke of exorbitant taxation on our working men and women by rolling back corporate welfare and needless programs of politically correct social engineering. Policies that reflect the true purpose for the cession of our natural liberties to the state.
True leadership does not lie on top of a fence. It climbs heights. It speaks truths. Clearly proclaimed and candidly proposed. Truths that restore our faith that the just society we all seek to build is not in heaven or beyond the sea, but in our hearts to dream and in our hands to forge. If we don’t champion that standard, we will fall victim to the warning of Thomas D’Arcy McGee who wrote in 1865 that “There is room in this Northern Dominion – under one flag and one set of laws – for one great people. But that greatness can never be achieved – under that same flag and those same laws – if we succumb to a thousand squabbling interests.”
I have decided to make the challenge of promoting this agenda of conscience my priority. To work to restore a national political culture where victory is won on the battlefields of ideals and principles are never vanquished in the backrooms of deals. I thank all of you for your support and hope that each and every one of you will join us in this campaign and contribute in any way you can.
Canada has been taken through the looking-glass. Black is white. White is black. But the great and good people of this nation are rousing from their slumber. Together we can strive to vindicate the possibilities of our capacities. And our current political elites will finally come to understand the admonition of Frederick the Great that, “It is a political error to practice deceit when deceit is carried too far.”