Vice is a monster of so frightful mien/ That to be hated needs but to be seen;/ Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,/ We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”
Few older Canadians will forget the time when former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, accused of taking bribes, filed a multi-million dollar libel lawsuit against the government. After a two million dollar settlement the truth came out about his meetings with lobbyist Karl Schreiber in hotel rooms. Mulroney collected his payoffs in brown paper bags stuffed with thousand dollar bills.
Politicians would not normally start off with the intention of becoming crooked. Lobbyists are everywhere in Ottawa, and help create a dangerous environment. The old adage, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” holds true.
For Westerners, it’s especially disappointing to see what happened to the Reform and Alliance parties, whose members crusaded to bring more honesty and openness to government, but succumbed to the very vices they fought against.
One example of this dynamic exists here in Chillwack, B.C. Chuck Strahl represented this riding for eighteen years, and had a distinguished career in which he came close to winning the leadership of the Conservative party itself. After retiring from politics for health reasons, he was appointed to chair the Security Intelligence Review Committee. Two years later he was forced to resign, when it was revealed that he also worked as a lobbyist for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project: a major conflict of interests.
The Strahl saga continues in the present election campaign. Back in 2011, when Chuck Strahl decided against running for reelection the normal nomination process was bypassed, and his son Mark was chosen as the new Conservative candidate.
Most Canadians would not condone preference to family, or transferring power like some feudal lord or mafia don. The Conservatives carried it off though, and today Mark Strahl is running for reelection.
The moral is that politicians, like diapers, should not be kept on forever, or things get kind of ripe.
Voters have a good range of candidates in the coming election, and they need to pick someone different. It’s time for a change.