Sunday, December 25, 2005

Fighting Corruption Will Never Be a Trivial Pursuit

The terms “Culture of Corruption” and “Culture of Entitlement” has recently been used often to describe the federal Liberal party’s typical relationship to rampant corruption.

One thing that is certain is that so long as corruption remains an issue in the current federal election, it is one about which the Liberal party will have nothing to say. The reason for this is simple: this is a matter on which have no ground to stand on, and absolutely no credibility.

Once again, the federal Liberal apologists have formulated what they feel to be the most appropriate response: trivialize the matter.

Examples come to mind. The most recent comes from George Stroumboulopoulos, who on an episode of CBC’s The Hour this past week attempted to lampoon the federal Conservative party over their response to Adscam, saying: “Quick. Name one federal government that wasn’t involved in some sort of scandal. …We’re still waiting.”

While it wouldn’t be unusual (or even incorrect) to paint the CBC as a glorified mouthpiece for the Liberal party, the matter here is not really the political leanings of one journalist. What matters is the implication that corruption in this case doesn’t matter because every other government has allegedly been corrupt as well. Furthermore, it is also suggested that any other party would be equally corrupt.

Certainly, the case that many other governments have been corrupt is accurate. Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative Government of the 1980s comes to mind, as does John A. McDonald’s Tory government of the 1870s. This, at least does demonstrate that other political parties (specifically, the Progressive Conservatives, who merged with the Canadian Alliance Party to form the modern Conservative Party in 2003) can be just as corrupt as any other.

On the other hand, in a recent top-ten list of the worst scandals in Canadian history compiled by (once again) the CBC, the current Liberal government was cited three times – Over the APEC Scandal, Shawinigate and the Jane Stewart Human Resources Development debacle. One should keep in mind this is before we have seen what the consequences of Adscam will ultimately be. In contrast, the Mulroney government was cited an equal number of times.— notably, over the Fisheries Scandal, the Airbus Scandal and various other Scandals related to his cabinet ministers. Also, this list was compiled before the recent revelations regarding the suspicious leak of information from Revenue Canada regarding the taxation of Income Trusts (which, interestingly, the Liberals don’t want to investigate). This means that at least two major cases of corruption that must be cited against the Liberal party remain at hand.

Some individuals, such as Calgary Grit (blogger Scott Ramson) seek to merely trivialize some of the details of Adscam. On October 15, 2004, Ramson wrote, “ … golf balls? Is this the worst they can do? Politicians use the government bank account for far more costly things: dinners, jet flights (for “political events”), the list goes on and on. The fact that the PM may have gotten a few freebies (and I don’t think that link has even been proven…just that they were used at an event he was at) is trivial. You’re telling me that CEOs don’t use company funds to get free jackets, sweaters, etc? That employees don’t use a company photocopier for private purposes?”

Ramson was referring to the production of name-branded golf balls by Jean Chretien, which was one of the questionable items being examined by the Gomery Inquiry. He goes on to refer to the matter as a “trivial non-story”, despite the fact that this at least suggests – raises reasonable suspicion – that Chretien possessed a personal link to the corruption at the heart of Adscam, just as he was personally linked to Shawinigate. But for those Liberal apologists who are afraid of what this may ultimately may mean for their party, the only way to respond is to confuse the issue, and ensure that the issue remains confused.

Questioning whether or not governmental corruption is absolutely ludicrous – of course it matters. However, it can be considered that the current batch of Liberal apologists are attempting to argue the matter with one of two very similar methods: in one case, it is proposed that all governments are corrupt (which is entirely false – Joe Clark’s reign as Prime Minster was clean, albeit short), so the corruption of one government doesn’t matter. In the other, it is argued that because all governments are corrupt corruption doesn’t matter at all. Both of these approaches are ridiculous, and reek of defeatism – if not outright loserism.

Adscam matters, and nothing the Liberal apologists have to say will change this. If, in fact, it was corruption thar resulted in the 1992 annhiliation of the Progressive Conservative party and not fickle anger over the GST, Canadians have no excuse to not visit similar wrath upon the Liberal party.

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