Friday, May 17, 2013

A Larger Problem

In his column this morning, Thomas Walkom suggests that Mike Duffy's current scandal-plagued problems are representative of much deeper ones in the Senate, namely that our much-cossetted members of that 'chamber of sober second thought' are appointed, not because of their expertise (many of them have none), not because of intimate knowledge of a particular province (Duffy has none, having lived in Ottawa for over 30 years and not even legally qualified to represent P.E.I.), but because the Senate has become, under both Liberal and Conservative governments, a repository of party strategists and bagmen where they can continue their partisan wizardry.

No doubt Walkom is correct as far as he goes. But the above, it seems to me, are simply symptomatic of two much deeper problems in public life, the widespread disengagement of our citizens, about which I have written before, and the shocking dearth of integrity in those who achieve high office.

For example, all of the events surrounding the Duffy porkbarreling have, quite rightly, provoked widespread outrage. However, when the abuses and betrayals of the public trust are not so obvious or so sensational, far too many citizens just shrug their shoulders and say that politics doesn't interest them. This marked indifference is precisely what has permitted, even encouraged, the depradatory environmental, science, economic and social policies the Harper regime has so avidly embraced and promoted. It is this indifference that enabled Harper to prorogue Parliament twice. It is this indifference that enabled, without even a hint of contrition, the excesses of Treasury Board President Tony 'gazeebo' Clement. I could go on and on.

A sleeping public enables, even encourages the unethical, the unprincipled, those for whom integrity is an alien concept, to prey upon and erode the public good.

I have always tried to live my life with principle and integrity, as do so many others throughout the world. Because we inhabit a world requiring adaptation and compromise, integrity and principle are ideals toward which we strive, providing, as they do, a moral compass and the recognition that the solely material and secular things of this world often come with a price too high to pay.

I will close this post with a quote from Shakespeare's Macbeth, a man who learned that hard truth far too late, recognizing, as the end of his life approaches, that he has sacrificed everything of enduring value in his lust for power and pomp:

My way of life
Is fall'n into the sere, the yellow leaf;
And that which should accompany old age,
As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends,
I must not look to have; but in their stead
Curses, not loud but deep, mouth-honour, breath,
Which the poor heart would fain deny, and dare not.

-- Act v, Sc. 3


  1. If our citizens had been engaged and informed, Harper would have been kicked out when he prorogued Parliament to escape an imminent vote of no confidence. That act sabotaged the very foundation of our British parliamentary system and far eclipsed what is happening now.

    Did you ever wonder where was the outrage then that we are seeing from our media and journalists now? Top marks to Andrew Coyne, Chantal Hebert, and so forth for leading the outrage against Harper's many transgressions now, but I do not remember them this angry then, did you? In fact I remember some of them telling us what a brilliant strategist and how smart Harper was when it was already obvious how underhanded and unethical some of Harper's actions were.

    Still, better late than never and I am happy to see our media finally doing its job.

    1. To be fair to Andrew Coyne, I should point out that he had publicly stated before the last election that he was voting Liberal to hold the Conservatives to account for contempt of Parliament.

  2. I can only hope, Anon, that when the dust of sensationalism has settled over this current public malfeasance, the journalism community doesn't resume its seat in the Harper cheerleading section of the bleachers.

  3. And remember, Lorne, Joe Clark warned us about Harper. Perhaps that's why Harper did not show up when they hung Clark's picture in the House of Commons.

  4. Pettiness is a frequent companion of the characterless, Owen, so Harper's absence on that occasion is rather consistent with what we know of the Prime Minister, isn't it?