I recently had a discussion with an acquaintance of the True Blue variety (and I’m not referring to a Maple Leafs fan) and the subject of the ever-increasing litany of Conservative misdeeds, missteps, alleged illegalities, and outright lies came up. (Okay. I admit it. I, kind of gloatingly, happened to toss the old in-and-out scheme into what had previously been quite a nice conversation. Hoowee!)
The immediate response, right from the Cons own playbook, was, “Yeah, but the Liberals were worse.”
Okay. I’ll admit it. By some (but not all) measuring sticks, the Liberals were worse. But using that tired old attack approach misses the key point in all of this, which is the Harper Cons got elected in large part because of their promise to be more open and accountable. They set themselves up as Mr. Clean on steroids. Their new government was going to be better and cleaner and everything they did would not only be legal but pass the smell test. No exceptions.
They set the bar and now, 2 years or so later we have (partial list only):
- Watered-down Accountability Act.
- Lies on income trusts.
- The head of Public Works and Government Services – arguably one of the most influential cabinet posts – still held by an unelected Senator.
- Intentional sabotage of the House Committee process.
- NAFTA-gate, which has been quietly swept under the Conservative rug (must be getting crowded under there by now).
- The Cadman affair. Ditto.
- Sacking heads of independent bodies for independent thought.
- Jim Flaherty’s contracting practices.
- And now, the in-and-out scandal.
Sorry guys. You put yourselves up on that pedestal and swathed yourselves in white linen. If your nice white sheet is now mud-spattered, you need look no further than the gutter in which you choose to play. That’s not the fault of the Liberals or the NDP or the Bloc or the Greens or space aliens.
Remember, the first step towards a cure is to recognise that you've got a problem.