Friday, March 16, 2012

Thoughts on Anonymous

Toews 2

“RCMP”, “serious threats”, “anonymous attacks”

When those words are reported time and time again with respect to the security of a certain member of parliament, one begins to think the worst, that at the very least the member and/or his family are at risk of serious physical harm necessitating a full and comprehensive police response.

But you’d be wrong.

What we are talking about here (if it isn’t already obvious) is the Anonymous video campaign threatening to out a few skeletons from Mr. Toew’s personal (and, if Anonymous is to be believed, very full) closet.

To be clear, any attempt to coerce a particular behaviour based on a threat to release damaging information about an individual is illegal; it is otherwise known as blackmail and warrants an investigation. However, this isn’t really about that at all. It is about a minister of the crown trying to avoid being embarrassed by the release of publically-available information that would shed some light on questionable decisions he’s made and actions he’s taken in his private life. The involvement of the RCMP, the tabling of this issue at the House and Procedural Affairs Committee (which threatened to call Anonymous to testify – good luck with that), the Sun Media coverage damning everyone in sight except Vic Toews, is all in response to the potential embarrassment of Vic Toews at the hands of an anonymous video maker.

And that, in and of itself, is worth a  few observations.

First of all one would think the Anonymous videos were being watched by millions of Canadians, bringing Vic Toews and the Conservative government into broad disrepute (not that they need any help with that). The reality is that none of the videos have exceeded a few thousand hits, and the majority of those have probably been by media types and Vic Toews’ own personal staff trying to find out what the fuss was all about. Canadians are simply not watching Anonymous in any numbers.

Second, if you have so much potentially damaging information in your background that some think it could be used as leverage to control your behaviour in Parliament, then you probably shouldn’t be in Parliament in the first place. Further to that, this over-excited response seems inconsistent with Vic Toews’ thick skin, so some might wonder if there really are career-ending details out there that have been oh so carefully hidden from public view until now.

And lastly, to badly mix a couple of metaphors, public life is like living in a fishbowl, so if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Robocall affair not going away any time soon

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, the robocall affair has been, if not a topic of water cooler conversation, at least of some interest. And as predictable as the opposition histrionics (Pat Martin, come on down!) have been the inevitable true-blue responses throwing out accusations of a ”Lieberal” conspiracy, a left-wing media-fuelled tempest in a teapot.

As disagreeable as I find the frothing condemnations flying back and forth across the floor of the HoC, I am more concerned, saddened really, by the number of people out there who believe this is just “normal” politics, nothing to see, move along folks, we’ve got our majority, all is well in the land of Steve.

No, this is not normal politics. Someone, somewhere, tried to corrupt our electoral system. What the real objective was, we don’t know. Whether it was one person or more, we don’t know. Whether it was directed from on high or not, we don’t know. To be sure we can’t even guarantee 100% that it wasn’t a Liberal/NDP/CBC conspiracy to make the Cons look bad (although it seems they have needed little help in that regard recently).

But the fact remains that potentially criminal acts were undertaken that have brought the legitimacy (if not the results) of the last election into question. And as much as the Harper Conservatives and many of their supporters would like the whole thing to die a quiet death, the media, fortunately, continues to pursue the story, including the National Post, the Ottawa Citizen, and the Globe and Mail, all of which are recognised as Conservative-friendly.

So let the chips fall where they may, but the story won’t, and mustn’t, just fade away. It’s far too  important to be treated as just another day at the office.