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On the matter of Canadian political corruption - MICHAEL ATKINS (05/05)

There is concern, I think we would agree, about political corruption in Ottawa. Michael Atkins The spectacle is hard to avoid.

There is concern, I think we would agree, about political corruption in Ottawa.

Michael Atkins
The spectacle is hard to avoid. We have breaking news on Web sites and radio stations, newspapers devoting pages of breathless coverage and, of course, the live coverage on C-pac. The Gomery show is everywhere, complete with outraged interviews from opposition politicians and street interviews with mechanics and nutritional experts weighing in on their thoughts.

None of this is quite as riveting as impeaching a U.S. President for sexual transgressions on CNN. but we have nothing to be ashamed of. This is as dirty and sleazy as it gets in any G7 countries. We’ve really arrived.It is particularly gratifying to watch Peter MacKay, son of a former Brian Mulroney cabinet minister, get on a roll. You can almost believe his indignation. I wonder what he thought of Brian. On the other side, there is poetic justice watching Jean Chretien twist in the wind after pursuing Mulroney with vengeance. The hypocrisy is stupendous.

But, what does it mean?

Is this who we are?

Is this how it works?

Is this our political culture?

At the risk of being accused of passing wind in a small meeting room without ventilation, may I suggest we take stock for a minute.

May I remind you of the Conservative government of Grant Devine of Saskatchewan, which featured a variety of now admittedly penny ante corruptions that sent more than a few ministers to court? May I remind you of the MFP inquiry in Toronto, where an investigation has revealed stunning revelations of malfeasance and stupidity, including the spectre of computer salesmen showing up in parking lots with brown paper bags of money disdained for a once-powerful councillor?

May I remind you of the Ontario Land Corporation and the buying and selling of land by a variety of shady characters, all of whom spent a good deal of money on the Conservative party of Ontario? May I remind you of the Catholic Church in this country, which has been accused of a variety of unconscionable acts against young people, and who have been, to put it tenderly, slow to grasp the concept of contrition? May I remind you of the Liberal premier of Nova Scotia, John Savage, who was nearly drummed out of his own party for trying to clean up the patronage which is a way of life in that province? Do the brand names Nortel or Bre-X mean anything to you? How about Garth Drabinsky or Conrad Black, whom are in various stages of criminal litigation? And let’s not forget the aforementioned Brian Mulroney, who has now admitted he received an odd $300,000 consulting contract from a dubious political fixer involved in the Air Bus scandal by the name of Karlheinz Schreiber. This fact is not disputed. I’m not sure Brian did any more to earn that money than certain advertising agencies currently en vogue in Montreal did to earn their fees, although no doubt Brian now looks like a piker in comparison.

Money talks. It always has. If you want to hear money talk, you need a hearing aid. The hearing aid is the culture. Is it a place where people ignore
politics as irrelevant?

Is it a society where the best and the brightest do something other than public service?

Is it a place where businesspeople (say the banks, advertising agencies, pollsters, and highway builders for a start) fund parties on a 60/40 basis
(60 to those in power, 40 to those who might one day get in power) and view it as protection money?

Is it a place where the media acts as the fourth estate, or are they are more concerned about their next appearance before the CRTC ? Is it a
society where the teachers stop striking long enough to focus on their students?

Is it a society where parents instill ethical behaviour in their children or leave it to the grovelling media, and their descent to the lowest common
denominator to do the job?

Yes money talks. So does culture.

So far we have been deaf.

The RCMP is without question the slowest and most dubious police force in the modern world when it comes to political and corporate corruption.

If it takes this comic opera to wake us up, it shall have served its purpose. The fear, however, is that it might not only wake us up. It may cost us our country.

This noble experiment called Canada is teetering on the brink, and we get to choose between Steven Harper, Paul Martin and a party that wants to break up the country. It is a cruel joke.

Michael Atkins is the president of Northern Ontario Business. He can be reached at .