Sunday, June 15, 2014

With or Without Permission Debauchery is Still Debauchery

Debauchery usually has a sexual connotation, but can also be used to describe any overindulgence.  Political debauchery is quickly making its way into our vernacular, as we witness overindulgence in campaign spending, attack ads and ugly divisive rhetoric.

Whether we're watching the impassioned faces of the Tea Partiers in the United States, or listening to the often senseless barbs tossed about in the House of Commons, we can see that these pleasure seekers have found their vice.

Not that there's anything wrong with political passion.  That kind of passion not only fuelled the Civil Rights Movement, the Woman's Rights Movement, implemented child labour laws,et al, but has been responsible for our very democracy.

Political engagement, not war, has created our modern civilization.

But just as debauchery can destroy lives, political debauchery can destroy nations.

The New Drug of Choice - Hyerpartisanship.

I don't think anyone could argue that our politics has become ugly and getting worse.

When someone from one side of the room in the Commons, accuses someone on the other side of something, you rarely get an explanation. Instead they pull out a piece of paper with some quote from a newspaper "proving" that the accuser had once engaged in similar behavior.

Political debate is being reduced to "I know I am, but what are you?"

Recently we have learned that the NDP is being charged with the mishandling of public funds, when they peppered ridings about to hold bi-elections, with Party campaign ads, using their Parliamentary envelopes and letterhead. They also took advantage of free postage, which is only permitted, or at least is supposed to be only permitted, to send notices to constituents.

They have been told that they will have to repay 1.17 million, the amount deemed to be the cost of the inappropriate use of public money.

Instead of paying up, apologizing, and promising not to do it again, they have decided to fight the decision, even if it means delaying summer break.

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair claims that the decision was made in a "Kangaroo Court" and that the other parties are guilty of the same crime.

He's right.

It's hard to look at this "ten percenter", sent out by the Conservatives, and not see it as partisan campaigning.

However, the other parties being wrong too is not a defense, it's an excuse.

The abuse of mailing privileges hit a peak in 2009, when it was determined that MPs had spent ten million dollars on what mostly amounted to Party PR. The Conservatives were the biggest spenders at twice what the combined opposition spent, most echoing their campaigns. "Not a leader", "Just visiting", always with a poll asking who was on the right track?

The practice has become less frequent, mainly due to public outrage, but I still receive nonsense suggesting that Justin Trudeau is in over his head or Thomas Mulcair wants to raise taxes.

Mulcair also claims that he received permission for the mailings from the Speaker of the House, who denies he ever approved them.

It does seem highly unlikely, that if the NDP asked if it would be okay to spend more than a million dollars of public money to campaign for upcoming bi-elections, that the Speaker would have said "sure".

So this is not about Kangaroo Courts or secretive House of Commons committees; it's about elected officials, who have become so hyper-partisan, that they see it as OK to use our money to guarantee their Party's political success.

The word debauchery comes from the French word debauchee, which means to “entice from work or duty.” It's pretty clear that duties are being neglected when the lure of oneupmanship and beating the system, take precedence over doing what they were elected to do.

No one campaigns on abusing tax dollars and I doubt they would win if they did.

So How Do We Clean Up This Mess?

Politicians are not the only ones guilty of being hooked on partisan porn. Debates on Twitter and Facebook, some healthy and some not so healthy, often become about defending your own Party's wrong doing, while pointing out the wrong doings of others.

In the last Ontario provincial election, NDP leader Andrea Horvath, constantly referred to the Liberals as "corrupt", claiming that only she could clean up government.

A ridiculous statement. At one time or another, most, if not all, governments, have had at least one member, who bends or breaks the rules.

To really clean up government, we need to clean up politicians who look for ways to abuse the trust we place in them.


  1. .. if only we had hundreds, thousands.. or one more like you

  2. I agree. And I suspect you are one in a million, Em.
    All this "he did, she did, he said, she said" is diverting the public's attention from the real question...which party is capable of delivering what the people of Canada want?
    Our less-than-honorable prime minister has openly stated he doesn't care what Canadians want, so that leaves the other two parties. Yes, Justin Trudeau is young, and political savoir-faire isn't necessarily genetic, but if he has the right people working with him and for him, and for the good of the country, well, maybe...
    And of course it would be wonderful to have the NDP win (and amazing to have the Green Party in power) but I do suspect those to be pipe-dreams.
    I've said it before, and I'll say it again, "Emily for Prime Minister!"