Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tiring Yet Inspiring

Canadian politics was pretty boring. The scandal of the decade, the 90's, was really a forgotten political pain outside of those directly "hurt." It is unmeasureable the effects of the perceived dirty money on political history and the relativistic wisdom of the then Prime Minister making the decision in Cabinet to spend over 5 years, $250 milliion in sponsorships promoting Canada in Quebec secretly.

In context of budgetary reviews and the loss of 45,000 public sector jobs, restraint on civil service wages, cuts in health spending, education, defence, this $250 million could have eased the pain.

Yet there is nothing illegal about this spending choice, as governments black box expenditures for things like "National Security" and free democrasies in the main accept that as a limitation in the system as a price of freedom, or more closely to our case, "Peace, Order and Good Government" when faced with external threats.

In the case of the patchwork of Canada, this was directed internally to influence internal political opinion favourably to the concept of Canada as the nation that Quebec was also a vital member of and within.

Without doubt, a different reasonable line would be that this did boost Liberal fortunes in Quebec, but this is the dirty part of the secret sponsorship funds. How mendacious would a Prime Minister be in the face of all these cutbacks, to keep his electoral base "alive"?

But this part of the scandal is now spun out away from this by more recent Gomery Report's focus on the administration of the funds. Personally, the administration sucked, clearly, and the report outlines instances of kickbacks to the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party that are truly unfathomable to their real depth to the forensic experts themselves, but highlighting a very large ethical lapse in a lurch of the end justifying any necessary means.

It is not a wonder now why Prime Minister Martin decided to clean his hands of it all, resign his leadership and personally get some fresh air, after losing an election he could not win with Quebec, his base, but destroyed.

The judgement of this Prime Minister in coming clean, calling the inquiry, will be forever debated. He had a choice, and he chose the "right" way but not for these times? If his courage is not exploited politically, yes, he miscalculated, and he is falling on his sword without a tear from many.

I however express sympathy for him, for his idealism and self-evident drive to get it right was not apparently as tasty politically for his compatriots in his camp to "sell". They clearly abandoned him but perhaps he could not communicate what would have worked for him as it did for Harper: convey your message simply and positively. Could they have run ads that had clips of his reaction to the Auditor Generals' report, calling for the Gomery Report? Get him some distance from the inevitable exploitation? The Gomery Report was out of the bag early as a political tool that was going to be wielded by the Conservatives.

No. I think this high road campaign was not in the plan, or if it was, it was considered briefly and then labelled as ill conceived, untennable, or unwise. Or was it forgotten that a high road did and could exist?

The watercooler discussion of today was that had the Liberals run more of the personal ads that showed the Prime Minister in his office, talking to Canadians (seen once) instead ads with false claims of what the Conservatives were going to do with abortion rights or the cozy genuflections of the happiness of a perceived unpopular US President with a Harper win (seen a dozen times), that instead of a Prime Minister elect with a strong western base of support, we would still have this Prime Minister to deal with. The talk of a Liberal electoral timeout to regroup would be replaced by the strength of the leadership of Paul Martin and his capacity to capture the essense of what it is to be Canadian and survive, a crucial quality and Canadian value.

The punditry in the MSM will not understand this.

I did make this up.

No comments: