Thursday, November 8, 2018

Protecting Those In Power

It is to state the obvious that there are many actions going on in the background to which we are not privy. Only occasionally do we see the man behind the curtain. Some actions may simply involve efforts to protect reputations, while others have a more sinister cast, a cast that stabs at the heart of contemporary democracy. It is about the latter I write today.

As people already know, Minister of Economic Development and Trade Jim Wilson has been bounced from the Ford Ontario government, along with Andrew Kimber, Ford’s executive director of issues management and legislative affairs. The initial explanation, that Wilson was leaving his cabinet post and caucus to seek treatment for addiction issues, was put to the lie by some sterling sleuthing by Global News. It turns out that the real reason Wilson left had to do with sexual impropriety. When caught in the lie, Ford said he did it to protect the identity of the complainant, a risible ruse that merits no further discussion, but only complete contempt.

Party and political machinations being what they are, the effort to conceal the real reason for Wilson's departure is hardly surprising. What does become both surprising and alarming is when those forces whose ostensible job is to protect people become enablers of government.

Such would appear to be the case in the miasma surrounding the contentious nomination of PC Ben Levitt, who ran and lost in the riding of Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas in the last election. While the allegations about irregularities and ballot-stuffing during his nomination are not new, what is new is the report that Hamilton Police have made two arrests, but are keeping all the information about them under wraps.
Hamilton police made two arrests – yet laid no charges – in their investigation of alleged voter fraud at a Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario nomination meeting, but the lead officer said details of the probe should be kept under wraps to avoid creating “undue negative bias” toward the government. [Emphasis mine.]
Fortunately, this wholly inappropriate attempt to protect the powerful is not going unchallenged:
The Globe and Mail and CTV are seeking to unseal court documents related to the case, a move the Crown is opposing.
While the police are claiming unsealing the information could contaminate their investigation, one fact keeps emerging:
Det. Constable Jefferess ... noted twice in his affidavit the allegations involve the party that forms the province’s government.

“As this investigation involves a political party and the current sitting provincial government, the release of the contents of the applications for judicial authorizations to the various media outlets may cause the media outlets and/or the public who read the subsequent news stories to come to their own conclusions or draw inferences based on the information,” he wrote.

“This could lead to a prejudice of the potential jury pool (if charges are laid) and/or undue negative bias towards the current sitting provincial government.”
In other words the public, which should have expectation of transparency here, cannot be trusted with the information.
The Globe is seeking to unseal records relating to the search warrants and other authorizations, including information to obtain (ITO) documents, which are compilations of evidence that police present to a judge.

“This application is to further transparency because there is overwhelming public interest in ensuring that nomination rules and procedures are followed when political parties nominate persons to stand for election,” said media lawyer Peter Jacobsen, who represents The Globe.

The Globe and Mail reported previously there was a printer at the nomination meeting cranking out fake Rogers utility bills and Scotiabank statements that enabled people who were not eligible to vote to illegitimately cast ballots, according to multiple sources. In addition, there were irregularities at the credentials table, which is typically where voters are sent after encountering problems at the standard alphabetical registration stations.
It becomes increasingly apparent in this day and age that our belief that our political 'leaders' and their underlings are held in check by both internal and external processes is little more than a cruel illusion. Outside the press, an increasingly beleaguered, undervalued and underfunded check on the powerful, there seems little reason to believe that our democracy is being well-served today.

But then again, like so many other abuses to which we are privy today, will this just be met with a societal shrug of the shoulders as our increasingly infantile populace turns to the next diversion, be it found on social media, reality television, or the next titillating celebrity scandal?


  1. Far from being the enemy of the people, Lorne, the press is the last bastion of hope for democracy.

    1. Sadly, too few people appreciate that fact, Owen.

  2. .. thanks as always.. a timely critique & observation re our current 'political world' and the dangerous intersection where the brakes are applied / or not .. and a fateful collission takes place.

    More and more I question the North American fantasy of 'public servants, both elected & unelected.. providing 'public service' to the electorate or the citizenry at large.

    When high school dropout Doug Ford decides he will dictate high school sex ed curriculum and pontificates the old fascist christian nonsense to ensure he gets that voting block, I know what I'm seeing.. and it aint public service.

    This phenomena.. which is basic practice among political animals and their parties, knows no borders. Its to be expected.. be it Trump, David Miller's hateful ideologies & defenders like Sara Huckabee Sanders, Andrew Scheer pimping for AR-15's to be recognized as 'hunting rifles' or Justin Trudeau pulling a Stephen Harper and writing off the SARA protections for the Resident Southern Killer Whales.

    In some cases its clever & insidious, in other cases its full frontal horseshit salad minus the lettuce and tomato. We're supposed to eat it and smack our lips ?

    What did we expect from Tony Clement ? He funnelled 50 million dollars budgeted for border security in gazebos in a cottage based riding.. yes, John Baird, Ray Novak & Stephen Harper made that happen.. and buried the facts and reality of the crime. Oh but they proclaim what fine christians they are.. churchgoers dontcha know !

    Trump (ugh) What a fine defender of faith, truth, sound business management, matrimonial constancy ? Come come.. And right in line is Mike Pence.. more ugh, and Hannity et al.. What upstanding liars they turn out to be

    Andrew Scheer is like rancid balogna wrapped in layers of dogma, outdated mayonnaise, and mouldy religious cheese.

    Trudeau buys us a aged pipeline, with our money.. then proceeds to tell us, the surprised owners.. in a classic grifter pitch, how the pipeline will save the environment & that 'we' - nation builders all.. will jam its twin and many others to the west coast 'tidewater' and supply the trillions of $ in bounty to ravenous Asians

    .. and the buffalo will roam (presumably in museums).. the extinct boreal caribou will lie down in peace with the poisoned wolves (thanks Peter Kent) there will be wild salmon for all in Valhalla.. or at least some lice infected farmed salmon courtesy of the prescient Norwegians..

    The bizzare thing though.. is almost 1/2 the voting population supports such horsetwaddle.. Hell, aside from gerrymandering, suppression and outright fraud, The American midterms show approx 50 % of America voted this way. Many polls predict Andrew Scheer in in or within majority territory. Other polls claim Trudeau will stomp the Conservatories.. And the NDP ? Why they elected as 'leader' - they guy who signed up the most retail party memberships... Duh .. ?

    But they're all wondrous christians eh ? They tithe, they posture on Nov 11 yet skim & chisel our military vets, some dickflop on social media (hello poor victim Tony Clement) - some .. oh never mind.. I must be out of touch with the 'new christianity' .. but does it not seem more to be 'inappropriate behavior' or the greedy quest to become millionaires with gold plated pensions paid by us ?

    1. My disillusionment with things is profound, Sal, and your comments underline some of the reasons for it. My deepest disappointments, however, reside with my fellow human beings. Despite the almost limitless access to information we have today, intelligent access to which requires only rudimentary thinking skills, far too many are satisfied to merely skim the surface or only avail themselves of the lowest hanging fruit, thus enabling and emboldening the likes of the Trumps, the Scheers, the Clements and the Trudeaus, to name but a few, who infect the body politic and undermine the lifeblood of our political systems.

  3. I sense that we're drawing ever nearer to the abyss of national populism, Lorne. The authoritarians among us are crawling out from underneath their rock, encouraged, even empowered, by our complacent political caste and their failure to defend liberal democracy.

    1. I fear your assessment is correct, Mound. There is little reason to hope for a turnaround, given both the politics of manipulation and the ready audience for that manipulation today.