Saturday, April 10, 2010

Helena's lesson

Whenever I criticize the federal Conservatives for being “Liberal clones” the government’s defenders will inevitably remind me that the defining difference between Tories and Liberals is corruption.

“The Liberals are all crooks, whereas we Conservatives are all angels,” is usually the point of the argument.

Well now the sad saga of Helena Guergis has blown some rather gaping holes in that narrative.

Turns out the Tory hamper might contain its share of dirty laundry.

And that shouldn’t surprise anyone.

The fact is corruption is non-partisan.

To quote Benjamin Rogge, who was paraphrasing Hayek, “honesty and integrity in government are not a function of which party is in power but of the power over economic decisions possessed
by those in government.”

In other words the Liberals were corrupt while in power, not because they were Liberals but because they succumbed to the corrupting influence of government.

My point is, the real bad guy is government, or rather the power of government.

As long as the government has the power to influence and direct our economy, corruption will be inevitable.

It doesn’t matter who is in power.

That’s why if the Tories truly want to bring about cleaner government they should first seek to reduce its scope and its power.

The less influence government has over our lives, the less temptation there will be to do wrong.


Lynn said...

Good post,thank you. I'm a big proponent of reducing the size,and thereby,the intrusiveness, of Government.

They can start with the CRTC, then the Marketing Boards,CBC,Human Rights tribunals,private health care, pretty soon we'd have a Nation that stands on it's own feet without the crutch.


Rightchik said...

I agree that this kind of arrogance is the result of being in a position of power.

It not only happens in all levels of government but let's be honest -we learn that lesson in highschool. We see the teen queens and their team captain boyfriends assert their position and then lord it over the mere mortals who congest the hallways.

Although I think Geurgis has other issues than the corrupting influence of the halls of power and it just happens to be beside her when she wakes up every morning.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry... "gaping holes"? Surely you don't want to align your credibility with that one, do you?

A lowly MP spends money on clothes and her husband may have used her blackberry... and that is on the level of corruption as handing over millions of taxpayer dollars in brown paper bags to people who are going to donate to your campaign?

Come on Gerry... usually I find you to be a rather on the level guy. This is kind of pathetic.

wilson said...

I agree with your point Gerry.
However, there is no comparision equal to Adscam.

Laundering stolen taxpayers money back into the hands of the Liberal party, the orders given from within the Liberal government....lest we forget.

Hugh MacIntyre said...

Wilson and Surecure,

Your point that the level of corruption is not as great does not in any way defeat the argument that large government power will lead to corruption. Consider that the Tories have been in power for 4 years and the Liberals were in power for much longer. Of course we will find instances of greater corruption in the Liberal Party. But give the Tories another decade of power and there will be no shortage of mud to throw.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more Mr. Nicholls. I've been on a two day rant about the level of venality and corruption in all levels of government, and the willingness of the Canadian public to accept it.

The thin-skinned among Conservative supporters read this as an attack on the party and point out that the Liberals are worse. My point is that a crook is a crook regardless of party affiliation.(a disclaimer: I would vote for Osama bin Laden as my MP before I would vote for a Liberal or a New Democrat.)

The elected representatives, and the bureaucrats they appoint, consider themselves to be the new royalty. They treat the taxpayer with utter contempt (except when they need our vote.) They have no sense of personal responsibility for anything they do. They have no respect for the taxpayers dollars that they spend. They continually make backroom deals with their large contributors and friends to the detriment of the general public. Worse yet is this sense of entitlement which blinds them to the fact that they are not above the law. (Of course, since none of them ever get prosecuted it is easy to see why this attitude prevails.)

It's time for the public to ask themselves if they would hold up our elected representatives and their appointed cohorts as an example of integrity for our children. I think not.

Joe said...

That there is political corruption in all political parties and corruption in the party in power goes without saying. The real question and the defining difference is how is such corruption dealt with. If PM Harper had named Helena ambassador to Denmark then I would call the parties the same. PM Harper called in the RCMP to investigate and lay criminal charges if warranted. Can you see a difference? I can see a HUGE difference!

L said...

What corruption? I think you are jumping the gun, as the investigations have not been conducted yet. So far, all I see is evidence of poor judgment and haughty behaviour on the Minister's part.

Smaller government is of course a great idea, but not because of corruption. It is unjust to take our money and to spend it on things we do not agree are needed. Give the money to taxpayers and if we want to spend it on activist groups or solar panels, we can do that through investment or donation.

Anonymous said...

I agree with surecure. This cannot be compared with ADSCAM or the Grand Mere hotel, and so on and so on.

Anonymous said...

As the months go by while in power the Tories behave more like the Liberals rather than less: Red Toryism guides the party, caucus & cabinet. This approach seems most salesble to the general public & aligns with the belief that a minority government has a mandate to lead for only as long as it can compromise with opposition parties. Both the neocon & socon wings cling to the hope Red Toryism would be discarded by Harper with a majority caucus but that seems unlikely to me.

Gabby in QC said...

First of all, I question the legitimacy of using a strong word like "corruption" to apply in the Guergis case.

Some definitions of corruption:
• moral perversion; depravity.
• perversion of integrity.
• corrupt or dishonest proceedings.
• bribery.
I doubt any of those apply to what we know so far of Ms. Guergis's circumstances.

For pete's sake, how does having a meltdown in a stressful situation in an airport qualify as "corruption"?

Secondly, we can all be smug and point fingers in all sorts of directions, but in the final analysis, it's not a system -- any system, or institution, big or small -- that is corrupt, but some individual people in it.

What draws some people into illegal activities?
What makes some people accept work "under the table" and people to hire such workers?
What makes people go on a shopping expedition across the border and declare nothing upon their return?
What makes people run red lights, shoplift, and lie their way out of difficult situations?
Or cheat on their income taxes?
The list is endless.

All those are different degrees of "corruption" -- and none are due to being IN or A PART of government.

So, I disagree with your basic premises:
1. That the Guergis affair is an example of "corruption".
2. That government inherently leads to "corruption".

Fred from BC said...

Whenever I criticize the federal Conservatives for being “Liberal clones” the government’s defenders will inevitably remind me that the defining difference between Tories and Liberals is corruption.

“The Liberals are all crooks, whereas we Conservatives are all angels,” is usually the point of the argument.

And who specifically uses this argument? Oh, right...NOBODY. Nice straw man, Gerry; too bad it was the foundation for your entire post, which now falls to pieces as well.

bertie said...

As usual Gerry,the pile of Liberal garbage coming from your mouth keeps getting bigger and bigger.Why not just open your blog in the Liberal dump and leave us alone.There you could lie your ass off and the pathetic losers would call you a FN hero.Here in the Conservative world you are called a loose nut that wrote a book or two.Something like an Ignatief clone.Corruption Gerry is reserved for the Liberals and MSM Gerry.So don,t try your corruption spin on us because we fight back Gerry,we don,t cheer fools and Liberals.

Rightchik said...

While Geurgis' known actions are not illegal, it is safe to suggest that the spirit of her actions indicate a corruption of ethics and good judgement.

There is no way she didn't know about her staffers writing those letters and this is clearly a perversion of her integrity.

We don't only expect our politicians to be ethical, we expect them to be seen as above reproach.

The assertion by Gabby that government does not lead to corruption is charming in its innocent naivety.

There is a change that happens to people in positions of influence and power. Sometimes the corruption is subtle in that a modest man becomes arrogant and sometimes it leads to an honest man becoming a crook.

There are varying degrees of corruption and it happens because it is the nature of success and the insular nature of the halls of power.

We must be ever vigilant and be prepared to strike at the first signs. Harper did well by removing this woman from caucus. Let it be a lesson for others who roam those hallowed halls on the hill.

Gabby in QC said...

Rightchik, yes I am naive enough -- although I don't know about "charming" -- to believe in the essential honesty and integrity of most politicians.

And true, some of them do go astray. But, it is not the system that suddenly "perverts" them; they already had that propensity in them. Those people would be "iceholes" -- to use a Colbertism -- whether they clerked in a convenience store or roamed the corridors of power.

"There is no way she didn't know about her staffers writing those letters ..."
That is an assumption on your part, based on the negative opinion you've formed of Ms. Guergis. Holding that negative opinion is of course your prerogative, which none of my arguments to the contrary would budge.

However, if I were to agree with your statement "There is a change that happens to people in positions of influence and power" i.e. that they are corrupted once they enter government, then the obvious conclusion would be that Stephen Harper is the most corrupt of all, since he has achieved the highest rung.

If that's the opinion you have of him, once again, no amount of my presenting arguments to the contrary would change your mind, so there's no bridging our different POVs.

But that's OK. I'll continue being naive, believing in the essential integrity of most MPs. And I'll start working on my charm.

Thermblog said...

This is a bit like the silliness at Abu Ghraib that somehow allowed the LEFT to define the USA as a really bad country and the head-choppers as benevolent imps.

In a world of leftist media, one simply cannot use this one unconcluded event to equate Liberals and Conservatives. The way the leadership handles these things is far more important than their occurrence. Remember Chretien justifying Adscam and the strange way his own golf course antics slipped under the radar.

Of course we are all humans, fallible and corruption prone. The question is, which party's structure and long-term performance has proven to be the most resistant. Harper's Conservatives seem to rate well thus far. Let's give credit where it's due.

Anonymous said...

Well, no shortage of Conservative apologists here. Sigh!

Gabby had some definitions I find interesting.

"moral perversion; depravity.
• perversion of integrity.
• corrupt or dishonest proceedings."

And I am reminded of MP Vic Toews. Toews had an affair with a much younger woman who he got pregnant. All of which, unsurprisingly, led to a messy divorce.

If Toews is capable of doing this to his wife then he is capable of doing the same or worse to the country and conservative supporters.

There will unfortunately always be unprincipled die hard partisans willing to sweep any and all transgressions under the carpet, who don't realize that Conservatism will never win if its not held to a higher standard.

Anonymous said...

I liked the way Glen Beck put it at CPAC,

"... it's not good enough to just be the party that dosen't suck quite as much..."

If that's the Conservatives goal, to just not suck quite as much as the Liberals, it's a pathetic one.

Francisco said...

So lets see, if you're someone who believes that a party that calls themselves "Conservative" should actually from time to time actually act Conservatively and have at least some modest Conservative principles and then you point out that they don't in fact have any such principles then by default you must be a ... 'Liberal'.Oh yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

CanadianSense said...

I must have missed the substantial evidence, the trial and conviction.

Can someone provide the links to those events.

Silly me, due process and rule of law, fair trials are just theories.

Thanks for a tabloid hit piece and labelling us with perspective as thin skinned.

It might be possible you should examine your own agenda.

Anonymous said...

That's it, keep the blinders on, stick your fingers in your ears and sing to yourself, la,la,la,la,la.

AToryNoMore said...

Obviously Wilson never heard of the Railway Scandal circa 1874.