Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Hypocrisy Hall of Fame. . .

Ok, ok, I don't blog that much anymore. I have lots of irons in the fire, so to speak. I mean, a lot of us have grown weary of the spectacle that is the Harper government. I think our weariness derives in large part from the fact that so much of Harper's corruption and hypocrisy goes almost unnoticed at this point. Perhaps this seeming apathy of much of the public is rooted in the sheer tonnage of oafish pompousness that comes out of the government. Its like having a teenager - after a while you just sort of block out a lot of their behaviour because if you let it all get to you madness would ensue.

But sometimes you just have to laugh out loud through the tears at some sound bite that emanates from the dark, fiery bowels of the festering cesspool that is the Harper government. Anyone who is familiar with the books or television series All Creatures Great and Small knows the frustrating character that is Siegfried Farnon. He is a pompous and often silly veterinarian who continually contradicts himself and changes his story, usually in an attempt to maintain the moral or ethical high ground in the face of the main character James Harriot who is ernest and scrupulously honest. The interactions can be frustrating because as you read (or watch) you often think 'how can people put up with Siegfried's hypocrisy and pompousness?' On the other hand, he is a character with redeeming features, (he is charming, charismatic,amusing, intelligent, hard-working, and genuinely cares for others). Not so, the Harper minions. Short of all of the admirable qualities of that literary figure, the Harper government had its ultimate 'Siegfried Farnon' moment yesterday.

In the face of criticism over the total failure to adequately deal with the recent oil spill in English Bay, Federal Industry Minister James Moore spoke words that surely must be given a place in the Hall of Fame of Harper Government hypocrisy, and, given the sheer number of contending moments, that is not an easy honour to receive. Mr. Moore actually had the nerve to say that it is "highly inappropriate for politicians to point fingers and make political jabs." Let that sink in for a moment. I laughed out loud, I really did. He went on to say that he thinks "it is irresponsible for people to dial up anxiety and fear." I don't need to recount all the moments that demonstrate that the entire Harper political identity is grounded in finger pointing, scapegoating, blaming and discrediting others, and, of course, dialling up anxiety and fear.

I must say that though it was a small moment, a little sound bite rather than a shot heard round the world, it reminded me of seminal moment of politics from the last century. That moment was given to us by Joseph Nye Welch, the head counsel for the US Army while it was under investigation by the notorious Senator Joseph McCarthy. When McCarthy persisted in questioning the integrity of Welch's young associates (Fred Fisher), Welch finally became exasperated and said those now famous lines to McCarthy - "Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness . . . You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?" This is often credited as the moment at which Senator McCarthy's downfall began, the moment at which the American public and their officials saw McCarthy for what he was - a mean-spirited, hypocritical, ideologically driven, corrupted, shell of a man who had no credibility in questioning anyone's integrity. Joseph McCarthy was finished, and the great Edward R. Murrow hammered away until no one had any faith in the Senator anymore.

Watching James Moore incredible hypocrisy was, for me, much like that moment when Welch finally stood up to the corruption that was Senator McCarthy. This government clearly has no decency, honesty or integrity. And given the toxicity and hypocrisy that Harper and his seals have injected into our politics, the words of Edward R. Murrow echo in my ear, and though he was speaking of the US, his sentiments should be applied to our own country  -  "We must no confuse dissent with disloyalty . . . We will not walk in fear, one of another  . . .We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men - not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular . . .We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home."

All we are waiting for now is the right moment and the right person to say to Stephen Harper in a public forum - "You have done enough. Have you no decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

Saturday, April 11, 2015

One revelation is already clear. . . .

I am not going to spend a lot of time blogging about the Duffy trial. It is already proving interesting and at the moment it promises to be a watershed moment in Canadian political history. But each week will bring new revelations and the twists and turns of this spectacle will make it difficult to keep up with all the implications.The Peter Mackay story is perhaps the most interesting tidbit that emerged this week. Duffy's diary suggests that the PMO told Mackay to take that infamous helicopter ride and then leaked the fact to the media. What does it mean to have a Prime Minister who tells one of his ministers to take a dubious action and then leaks the story to make that Minster look bad? As Peter Mansbridge asked "If this is how the Conservatives treat their political allies, how do they treat their enemies?  One week in and it appears that most political experts agree that the crown's case is already crumbling. It appears fairly simple - the senate has few specific rules, and it essentially controls itself, so it already seems that Duffy was following the rules rather than breaking them. Time will tell how the judge reads it.

But this much seems to already be clear - Harper was elected claiming he would never appoint a Senator and with the expressed intention of "reforming" upper house. What he has done beyond all doubt is turn it from a legislative body into a simple extension of the Conservative Party. Anyone who has paid attention this week now knows that Harper has de facto legalized corruption at the highest level of government. This revelation alone should be enough to exclude him permanently from government. If voters fail to understand this then we have already lost any hope of democracy. And if another party comes to power in October and they fail to treat Harper's treason with the appropriate seriousness, then we might as well give up on our democratic future now.