Waterloo Region has a whole new team of enthusiastic politicians eager to make their mark on the political fabric of our communities. I have high expectations for the good that can come from even one persistent, skilled, visionary leader. I think of Ira Needles and Jerry Hagey, co-founders of the University of Waterloo, whose positive impact on our Region has been exponential. Both of these men were servants of the common good in a measure not often found today.
In contrast, in 2001 Gordon Campbell vowed he would not sell BC Rail and won a landslide victory only to break his promise to the people. Recently, two of his cabinet ministers’ aides were convicted of selling information and it is yet to be known why BC Rail paid the head of Campbell’s election campaign in 2001, a $300,000 “consulting fee” around the time of the sale.
Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney escaped jail because he broke no law but clearly broke the trust and expectations of the Canadian people as their Prime Minister. Before he left his post, he tried to sell Pearson Airport to a private firm,
with questionable value for Canadians.
Henry Paulson, the US Secretary of the Treasury and former CEO of Goldman Sachs, testified to the Senate Finance Committee that he did not know where the $850 Billion bailout funds went even though it was his charge to distribute the money. Not much later, Time Magazine named him as runner-up for “Man of The Year”.
Argentina used to be the richest country in South America. In the 60′s, they had a space program and international car manufacturing but they were brought to abject poverty by political corruption. The wealth of the nation was plundered by multi-national corporations and leaders who served themselves rather than their people.
Closer to home, Ted Rogers bought the $800 Million dollar Skydome (a good portion of which was public money) for a mere $25M without open bidding, due process, or any outrage from the media or the public. For me, it will always be the Skydome!!
Some pundits insist that corruption in government is inevitable, but I emphatically disagree. If you had an employee that took $5 from the till every day, would you dismiss it as “inevitable”. Would you expect to get a “pass” on driving through a red light even if you didn’t hit anyone – No. Should a shoplifter be told by a judge that “since this is a small crime, and we only deal with serious crime, we are going to ignore this whole thing.” All of these approaches are ridiculous and are actually very destructive to society. Crime is inevitable but always unacceptable. The law applies equally to everyone – politicians, bureaucrats, multi-national corporation CEOs, and to you and me.
Things have changed in Canada since the days of Needles and Hagey. Corruption is being fueled by our media that mocks integrity, scoffs at honesty, and makes money and power something to be obtained at all cost. We are being assaulted from within. Corruption is a very real threat to everything we know as Canadian. That threat must be met with leadership and determination, and possibly some hardships in order to overcome the challenges of corruption and turn us from the course we are on.
Corruption is lawlessness, and law is the foundation of freedom and society. Corruption is not a harmless or acceptable crime – society, you and I, and our children are the victims. It cannot be tolerated without consequence. If you care about our community and our country, corruption should be your call to action.
I challenge men and women of integrity serving locally, provincially and nationally to work to protect Canadians and Canada from unscrupulous leaders. We need new laws that protect the trust we have given our leaders. In every election the issue of corruption should be part of the discussion. When we are lied to in an election campaign, there must be remedies to protect the will of the people – or we can’t call this democracy. We need courageous, truly diversely-owned media which operates freely. We need more funding for white collar crime investigation, and we need to applaud and honour those who stand up against corruption and who fight for truth and justice.
Corruption in Canada has reached a tipping point. We ignore it to our own demise. It does matter who we elect. We need courageous leaders with aggressive strategies to protect and rebuild the public trust and to restore greatness and prosperity to Canada.