As 2013 comes to a close, to say Canadians are disenchanted and disaffected with the state of public affairs would be like saying it’s been awhile since the Leafs won the Cup. A more massive understatement, there never was.
Whether politicians like it or not, the stain of corruption, scandal and dishonestly mars all parties and all members. The drawn out scandal surrounding the Senate, the monstrous catastrophe at Toronto’s City Hall and sundry other personal and professional indiscretions at all levels of government have sunken all party boats and left Canadians deeply distrustful of public leadership.
Many have asked, has it ever been this bad? In general, I don’t believe politicians are more or less callous or ruthless now than they always have been. However, what has changed is the level of transparency. The backroom has gotten smaller and less smoky; meaning what would once have been easily kept under the rug is now splashed all over the walls. New technologies and increasing access to information have defrosted the windows for journalists and watchdogs, sending light into dark corners and making it harder and harder for Machiavellian staffers to weave webs of intrigue.
In addition, an insatiable 24-hour news cycle has led to sustained exposure to scandals for much longer periods and in far greater detail. Rather than stories lasting one night, they now drag on in lurid detail for weeks and months; they have become train-wrecks in slow motion.
I would say to Mr. Mulcair, “don’t win at all costs”. Doing so leads to a race to the bottom where everyone is a loser, especially the system and the institution of parliament. Some have said that profit-maximizing actors, politicians and their staff will stoop to every low if it means gaining an advantage. I would challenge Tom to prove them wrong and prove that there are nobler hearts in Canadian politics; one that know when to pass on an empty net when the keeper is down.
Everyone knows that the NDP is held to a higher standard than the other parties. Other politicians and governments seem to flit from one scandal to the other with nary a chink in the armour. However, Canadians expect more from the NDP and New Democrats expect more from ourselves. We have built an identity based on respecting our roots and representing the interests of working people. For that reason any violation is a personal affront, not a distant slight. Tom knows this and I’m sure he honours that trust.
No one wants to shake a dirty hand, so I implore our leader and his staff to respect the grassroots of the party and keep theirs clean.