“Lack of integrity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving, it consists in professing to believe what one does not believe.”
- Thomas Paine
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
- The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
What makes the Gomery process so maddening is that it is all about politically driven character assassination, guilt by association and the elimination of even minimum standards of rule of law and due process. The compromise of our judicial system for political gain started with Chrétien’s attack on Francois Beaudoin but has been very much sanctioned by Prime Minister Martin from the time Jean Lapierre intervened with the RCMP to force quick indictments in the sponsorship affair to help the Liberals in the last election. It’s time we understood the real heart of the matter. This is truly about the theft of the country. But not in the way it has been portrayed.
What has led to the current crisis in this country can be summed up in three words: abrogation, abdication and abnegation. And it is a process that has perniciously advanced over the past twenty years. Twenty years of leaders who have never learned the lesson that the one thing that should never abide by public consent is personal conscience.
The greed decade of the eighties during which the Mulroney administration ruled, was characterized by an almost total abrogation of the public trust. Some half dozen Ministers had to resign for questionable dealings. It is evidence of the feckless mindset of the Canadian political culture that no one is affronted by the fact that Mulroney's Chief of Staff during that sorry period is now the Chief Counsel to the Gomery Commission masterfully exhibiting a magisterial projection of false piety.
The Chrétien administration that followed, engaged in abdication of Parliamentary responsibility by shuffling off important matters of state to bureaucrats, Courts and law-enforcement agencies answerable to no one in order to avoid taking hard decisions. Micro-management at its most dangerous. The very sovereignty of the people's suffrage over the state was compromised.
We were brought to such a level of low limitation that we hardly noticed the brutal use of instruments of state power that almost destroyed Francois Beaudoin. A man whose only “crime” was to insist on maintaing his integrity in the Auberge Grande-Mere affair. It is offensive that the public morality of our commonweal has sunk so low that there has been no objection raised to the fact that Beaudoin's lawyer, knowing better than most the corrosive power of the state, is now representing the Liberal party attempting to reverse its own deflowering.
Following the near disaster of the 1995 referendum Canada’s national political elite, including Mr. Martin, signed on to plans to destroy the separatist threat at any cost. Liberals and Tories recognized that the first responsibility of a Federal government was to keep this country whole. The pathetic whining and bleating of the hockey-rink dads and soccer moms about their passports and pensions resonated like white noise across the land. Even Chretien reportedly cried in front of Pelletier.
Yet no vision had been provided. The stage had been set for the triumph of the mindless and the tyranny of the mediocre. None of the leaders much cared how it was done, as long as the voters could be satisfied. Besides, the specific tactics were unimportant. The overall strategy and structure had already been in place since Mulroney’s time with tens of millions of discretionary dollars allocated for Canadian unity initiatives with little or no reporting obligations
Canadians willingly acquiesced in the self-abnegation of their own consequence. This nation began to be characterized by a self-doubt driven by a jealousy of others’ self belief. Canadians sold their souls for government handouts and were rendered impotent by fidelity to the false security of the demands of statocratic consensus.
All the Liberal leaders, including Mr. Martin, were very happy in the 2000 elections when federalists won Quebec for the first time in twelve years. Part of the reason was that the 1001 “silly” initiatives of sponsorship produced summer jobs for kids in Alma and Abitibi; and part-time work in local programs from the Saguenay to the Mauricie; and the flag was waved in all areas of “le Québec profonde”. It was “bread and circus” politics and it worked.
But that very success was what accelerated the malignant malaise we now face. Politics had stopped being a vocation entered into because of a visceral desire to serve the public good. To reduce suffering, to protect the vulnerable, to raise national purpose. It became just the art of the game. Canada’s political leadership promised something for everyone. Pork barrel vote-grabbing schemes with no rules.
Instead of celebrating our common universalities, a great party of power and principle was reduced to exploiting everyone’s petty particularities. Side street infighting between rival gangs. All for the sake of the brass ring. That is what has brought this country to today’s pathetic narrow circumstance.
The Chretienites were carrying out the sponsorship initiative with electoral success, but with egregiously sloppy controls and shady deals. The Martinites were busy premeditatedly compromising the public trust approving funding and contracts to their friends and firms. Despite their current war both sides are responsible for surrendering the privilege of governing to the preference of intra-mural rivalries and greed.
Those who have been exposed till now are traditional political power players. Some of what they did was allegedly illegal. The rest was certainly improper.
What has not been exposed, though so much is on record, is that Martin’s whole history has been the manipulation of the tax laws and corporate regulations of this country for the benefit of a few specific interests to the detriment of the working men and women of Canada. That has been his “vision” despite the false piety of his public statements. It is about the theft of a country. This is Canada’s true Watergate.
As some of this began to come out in 2003-2004 his political handlers conceived the idea of the House Accounts Committee hearings and the Gomery Commission to accomplish two objectives. Firstly, and most importantly, to deflect from his own questionable dealings that were beginning to come to light. The second purpose was to finish off any vestiges of Chretienite influence in the party to establish total hegemony. What they had not counted on was the “blowback”. That so many of the Martinites would continue to maintain close ties to the “old guard”, and that so much information on the benefits Martin’s people had asked for from those very same power brokers involved in sponsorship would come out.
Martin has taken us through the looking glass. Black is white. White is black. The Institute has written widely on this and I personally have given backgrounders to several reporters further to their calls. They have all agreed with the facts but worried about government repercussions, and the work involved, in writing about it. One reporter told me the “sponsorship stuff writes itself, the other story requires work”.
This does not fully meet the duty of citizens. We can’t take our country back without the bold resolve of all.
Leadership is not merely about opposing a party, 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.
This must be the basis of change to the status quo. And the basis of a radical challenge to Paul Martin to allow an open nation once again where victory is won on the battlefield of ideals, and principles are not vanquished in a backroom of deals. We must marshal a bold resolve. It will not be easy. But we must begin, Sure in our cause, conscience of the just and steeled to the burdens knowing the truth of the words of the great labor leader Walter Reuther that, “If you’re not big enough to lose a few, you’re not big enough to win it all.”