Sunday, May 15, 2005

Adscam - The Liberals Thank Canadians

The Liberals thank Canadians for their votes….

As far as thank-yous go, the Liberal Party of Canada may have outdone themselves. The stench emanating from the Gomery inquiry is both extremely potent and extremely nauseating.

When Adscam first came out, most Canadians were sure it was just another scheme to buy Quebec’s favour. No one could have predicted the reality of it. No one could have predicted the depths of corruption that have been exposed. No pundit, no veteran political reporter, no MP could have predicted that the fall out from the Gomery Inquiry could have such a catastrophic effect not just on the Liberal party but also on the Canadian psyche.

Canadians, who have long thought themselves immune to shock caused by political shenanigans, have been well and truly shocked. The range of reaction goes all the way from stoic acceptance to “what do you expect” cynicism to betrayal and outrage. Even the most diehard of Liberal supporters (this reporter included) are outraged and baying for blood.

This was the image Canadians saw on their television screens as Prime Minister Paul Martin took the unprecedented step of going on television to address the nation regarding Gomery. Martin, normally a robust, healthy looking man looked gaunt and tired as he basically pleaded with Canadians for his political life. Prime Minister Martin asked Canadians to wait until the whole Gomery report came out before we judged him. He has promised that he will call an election no later than 30 days after Gomery’s report comes out. While some see this as a way to hold on to power, others (myself included) see this as the final nail in a coffin that has been under construction since Jean Chrétien was Prime Minister.

During Martin’s speech, he stated, “I was the Minister of Finance. Knowing what I've learned this past year, I am sorry that we weren’t more vigilant - that I wasn't more vigilant. Public money was misdirected and misused. That’s unacceptable. And that is why I apologized to the Canadian people a year ago”. That single statement proves that no matter what steps he has taken to rectify the mistakes made by the previous administration, he was either complicit in Adscam or the most inept Finance Minister in the history of this country and therefore he is unfit to rule this country. For those who think that this is a harsh judgement, think of it this way: this scandal is only the latest thing in a long line of mismanaged programs (gun registry anyone?) that have cost Canadian taxpayers an obscene amount of money. The money wasted by the Federal Liberals could have provided a number of things much more desperately needed by Canadians. Affordable housing, improved healthcare, student loan relief, a program to eradicate child poverty (which the Liberals promised to do but never delivered on) are just some of the things we could have used. It could have been used for anything that would benefit Canadians. Instead time and time again, we have given the Liberals our trust and been kicked in the teeth for it. Only the level of corruption in a banana republic rivals the level of corruption in the Liberal party. At the very least, heads need to roll, and at the most, people need to be going to jail. That would include anyone and everyone who was a party to this mess that we call Adscam.

Perhaps the thing that is even more disturbing than the scandal is the way that the Liberal Party has really refused to talk about it. The Prime Minister made no comment, nor would he answer any questions about it during Parliament sessions prompting juvenile name calling from the Conservative Party opposition. In fact, the first direct reference to Adscam came only when the Prime Minister went on television to plead for his life. The Prime Minister has disappointingly refused to admit or take any responsibility for this fiasco. That is most disappointing. Almost everyone polled about the context of this article said the same thing: they voted Liberal not because they believed in the candidate in their riding, they voted Liberal because they believed in Paul Martin. What a disappointment he has turned out to be in virtually every aspect of the job he was chosen to do. From domestic policy to foreign policy, he and his cabinet ministers have flip flopped, dithered, debated to death but never made any real decisions.

The Conservative Party is currently riding high in the polls and seeing this as the death knell to the rule of the Liberals but they would do well to not count their chickens before they hatch. Stephen Harper is perhaps the least liked politician in the party and the party itself is bitterly divided beneath the congenial picture they present to party outsiders. The extreme right wing ideology that the Alliance Party brought in to the merger with the centre right of the original Conservative Party have not mixed well and do not look like they will mix well any time in the near future. The Conservatives in the last election could have kept their lead and won more seats had they kept a tighter reign on the more extreme right of their members; however, they didn’t and the ideology that Canadians found frightening began to slip out. This is what lost them seats and will continue to lose them seats.

For now, the Liberals and the NDP have made some sort of a deal to stave off a vote of non-confidence. The budget is to be reworked to favour the needs (read: demands) of the NDP party and they have agreed to vote with the Liberals. This is not a good thing. Not for Canadians and not for parliament which is currently in the most dysfunctional state imaginable. It remains to be seen if Canadians go to the polls. If they do, it is time to kick out the Liberals and teach them a lesson they will never forget. Canadians may be complacent and forgiving but we are certainly not stupid, nor are we tolerant of corruption.

For far too long, the Liberal Party of Canada has been ruling this country with what is widely viewed as a sense of entitlement. They seem to have lost sight of the fact that no one, absolutely no one rules by entitlement in a democracy. It is up to us the voters to teach the Federal Liberals a lesson.


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