Thursday, June 12, 2008

Complacent Canada

Sometimes I despair at the inept and incompetent way Canadian politicians operate and the lazy, mindless way the Canadian public puts up with it. At the moment we really seem like the pathetic banana republic that people outside Canada often think we are.

We have a former prime minister who, while in office, dealt in massive quantities of cash - millions - that he stuffed in his basement safe and apparently didn't account for. After a great many years he was finally forced to admit that he took a few hundred thousand dollars in cash under extremely dodgy conditions from an arms dealer. We have solid evidence that millions more in bribes were provided by an airplane manufacturer - via the same arms dealer - while he was prime minister, and that he was active in securing the deal that the bribes were related to.

When the RCMP tried to investigate the situation in the early 1990s the former PM sued for defamation and got a $2.2 million settlement - and now we know that he lied about salient matters in his deposition, lies that would have resulted in no settlement.

The RCMP has never released any information of interest about their investigation. In fact, by dropping the investigation they led a lot of people to believe that there was no corruption. It fell to investigative journalists to produce the evidence, and one of those journalists has been viciously defamed for doing so.

And we can't seem to launch a proper investigation into any of it. Our current prime minister promised to create an inquiry, but apparently he lied. Parliament's Ethics committee did an admirable job looking into it, but they haven't got the teeth to get to the bottom of anything.

Twenty-five years have gone by on some of this. Some of the key people are dead. The latest news, that the former PM has refused to re-appear before the Ethics committee, has fallen into the public sphere without a ripple.

In the US there is arguably too much outrage at too many trivial things like sex scandals and false demonization of politicians, but in Canada we lean way too far the other way - into complacency and inaction. It's no wonder we have so many scandals: the criminals and creeps can get away with murder here.

Update: Shortly after I wrote this, Harper announced an inquiry. Its scope is so narrow as to be almost useless, and I'm dubious it will actually ever start, but... it's better than nothing.



Anonymous said...

I always wondered why the former Liberal government caved so quickly on this particular scandal. Given Canadian the limitations on awards (you don't see the insane monetary awards granted by US courts) for any suit I questioned how much more than 2.2 million Mulroney would have gotten had he won.

Perhaps they were concerned that some Liberal folk would be tarred with the Schreiber brush? Let's not forget that for all his connections to Tories like Mulroney, it was Marc Lalonde who provided bail and support (not once but twice if memory serves).

I would love to know all 'friends' of Schreiber.

mp said...

I am not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing for Canada. But I suspect that few of your "worldly" neighbors to the south would have any inkling of even who Byran Mulroney is, let alone the ongoing scandal. Now give us a good juicy scandal a la the Great White North and we'll pay attention!