Appearances Versus Reality
During the 2006 election campaign, PM Harper soberly cautioned us,
“Bend the rules, you will be punished; Break the law, you will be charged; Abuse the public trust, you will go to jail.”
They’re nice words, and they certainly appeal to values of law and order embraced by Canadians, but as it turns out, they’re also hollow words. After all, the Harper government is guilty on all counts: bending the rules, breaking the law, and abusing the public trust, yet it is avoiding appropriate punishment like the plague. Apparently law and order issues are meant to apply only to those who aren’t affiliated with Conservative party misdeeds.
A more appropriate quote would have been,
“I am in blood stepped in so far
That should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o’er.” Macbeth (III, iv)
If the government was as strongly oriented towards law and order as they profess, there would currently be a Public Inquiry into the substantive and unprecedented electoral fraud violations and complaints related to the last federal election. Surely, they would want to clear the air and demonstrate that the electoral crimes that they committed in 2006 were an anomaly, a “one off” situation, and not a corrupting trend. Instead, the government-appointed “watch dog”, Elections Canada, now faces budget cuts 7 times larger than any other government agency.
Likewise, having already earned the distinction of being the first government in the history of the Commonwealth to have been found in Contempt of Parliament, one would think that the Conservatives would have been extraordinarily transparent during the procurement process of the multi-billion dollar F-35 purchase. Not so. The Auditor General has made it clear that the Conservatives were aware of the $25 billion dollar price tag as early as 2006. Regardless of the spin, the $16 billion price given to the public, and the Parliament, was fiction. So again, we’re not talking about an anomaly, we’re seeing a very deliberate pattern to bend the rules, break the law, and abuse the public trust.
In and of themselves, these are very serious issues of government corruption and criminality that are not being properly addressed. However, the seriousness is amplified by context. When a government presents itself as being sound managers of the economy, only to mislead the public regarding the allocation of billions of dollars, it is displaying a certain animosity towards the same people to whom it is sworn to serve.
Recall as well that this is the same government that ran an election campaign vowing that it would not make cuts to OAS, and that it would not cut transfers to the provinces for major programs such as health care, and yet it has done both.
A multitude of studies reveals that the current trend of health care cuts will most certainly lead to elevated mortality rates in our health care system, and yet the cuts continue, while corruption and militarism count among the real reasons for the forced austerity. Planned over-spending by billions on military planes reflects perverse priorities when our health care is suffering as it is.
Our government is showing itself to be “stepped in blood”, and it doesn’t seem willing to change course, despite the evidence, and its self-professed intentions.
By Mark Taliano