Saturday, May 14, 2005

Rick Salutin nails it 

Rick Salutin's rabble column: Embrace Ottawa's dysfunction tells it like it is.
I tried to cut it down, but I have ended up posting almost all of it below -- its just that good:

. . . some of our political traditions are being desecrated. The question is: Do you care? . . .the Martin-Layton deal . . . provides childcare, housing, urban relief, and a balanced budget — exactly what voters say they want! Finally they get it — and Parliament is dysfunctional? Paul Martin was dithering. Now he's acting. So it's time to pull the plug on him? As for democracy, the Liberals and NDP polled a majority of votes last election: 52.4 per cent, versus just 42 per cent for Conservatives and the Bloc. So their deal makes democratic sense. Chantal Hébert wrote in her column for the Toronto Star, “There is no longer any question about how far Paul Martin is willing to go to avoid a snap election.” How far is that? Well, he's actually giving citizens what they say they'd like, and what he promised to do. Why must he be punished for it? So what if fear made him do it? Stephen Harper got pressured into backing off on abortion. That's politics — in fact, that's democracy . . . Motives don't matter. At least not for most people.
Columnists may be exceptions. They live by their opinions, they hate backing down, maybe it means more to them than the benefits of public childcare or urban renewal. They are incensed when voters indicate they might be willing to be “bought off” or “bribed with their own money.” Excuse me, but isn't that the point of taxes: to spend on behalf of the taxpayers for things they couldn't purchase by themselves?
Poor voters. They may be disgusted by the sponsorship mess, but must weigh the temptation to voice their rage, against the dire effects if they replace a Martin with a Harper. Do it and you will not get childcare or urban transit or tuition relief. And all this at a time when the system is finally starting to deliver for citizens. Me, I'd string the catastrophe out as long as possible. A dysfunctional Parliament may be as good as it gets. . .
Lies? Peter MacKay, Conservative deputy leader, lied with gusto and signed a pledge not to merge his party in order to become PC leader, then reneged and didn't even look sheepish. Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer's head seems ready to explode in Question Period; but he had an
aide impersonate him on radio and lied about it when he got caught. They're outraged? I'm outraged that they're outraged! This is the worst scandal in our history? Canada was born in scandal. Ever hear of the CPR? . . . from this scandal voters may gain a little ground in areas that matter to them. If this be dysfunction, make the most of it!

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