Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal
A Legacy of Stone
The Martin-Stronach Deal
|Beryl P. Wajsman||17 May 2005|
“In a civilized society the means are all important. It may seem inconsequential that power is obtained through questionable motives, but in the sweep of history a country that accepts political leaders acting with unbridled immorality and without restraint of consequence as normal, has no claim to a position of moral leadership among the nations. Martin has now set the national debate as a choice between a sovereign
Last week CSL and Magna Corp. had dinner and today Canadians picked up the bill. First Jack Layton, then Belinda Stronach and now the narrowest confidence vote in Canadian history decided by the Speaker. Prostitutes claiming virginity on their wedding night. That is the state of political culture in
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.” That is what we are now seeing in stark relief.
If we accept this charade without digging for the vested interests that drove it, then we should give up on our integrity. We will be living through another year of tax breaks for the rich; retroactive regulatory changes making off-shore havens easier; weakening of ethics standards separating public officials from their private interests; more raiding of UIC and CPP surpluses to “balance the budget” whose only effect is to help currency traders speculate in our dollar; and additional handouts to this administration’s corporate friends and families.
This deal was not done to advance common universalities, but to perpetuate partisan particularities. It is a perfect marriage reflective of Canadian politics’ degraded, narrow mindset that protects the sovereignty of subservience to the privileged over service to the people. Corporate
This is an unholy construct born of mendacity that will crumble from the corrosion of its own inherent illegitimacy. In a civilized society the means are all important. It may seem inconsequential that power is obtained through questionable manipulations, but in the sweep of history a country that accepts political leaders acting with unbridled immorality and without restraint of consequence as normal, has no claim to a position of moral leadership among the nations.
If we Canadians have one boast, one over-riding advantage, not just over totalitarian regimes, but even over sister democracies, it is that our traditions reflect our national consensus that our governance must have a broad base in morality and decency. If we fail in this then we may, as Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby put it so well, “…lose sight of what our democracy is all about.” Martin and Stronach are living proof of that moral blindness.
Martin’s desperation for power has now brought to an end the legacy of Trudeau liberalism. But there are still many of us who believe in that liberalism. The liberalism of inclusion not exception. The liberalism of expanded opportunity, not low limitation. A liberalism based on the equity of just consideration, not the inequality of narrow circumstance. A liberalism that is the shield of the vulnerable and the staff of the unempowered. A liberalism whose leaders do not exercise power merely as a two-edged sword of craft and oppression.
The Martin legacy will be one of deceit, duplicity and deception. A legacy of stone. And every Liberal MP who stood with him and failed in their duty to “gentle the condition” of this land will be judged just as harshly by history as will this Prime Minister.
We must demand that our leaders remain loyal to a culture of conscience where victories are won on the battlefields of ideals and principles never vanquished in the backrooms of deals.
Canadians must rouse from their slumber. Vindicate the possibilities of our capacities. And make our political elites submit to the sovereignty of our suffrage so that they learn the lesson of