Welcome to the thoughts, rants and passions of a young Muslim woman seeking soulful enlightenment in cyberspace.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Sorry's Not Enough

About a week ago, a friend of mine received the following letter in the mail:

Atop the letter proclaiming, "YES! I want to keep Canada working!" is an envelope with the words, "Canada is working". And then, the cherry on the top is a card for loyal Liberals. (The name of the cardholder has been deleted.) A pretty package, don't you think?

The letter is from the Liberal party, requesting donations by mail. Ironic, eh? Perhaps my friend should do as Bob from canadiancomment has suggested: Send piles of fake money to symbolize her protest over the scandal.

So what do Canadians do when they discover that about $100 million has been wasted by their government? Not just wasted, but blatantly misused? Martin’s televised speech last night did little to quell the firestorm of anger and indignation over the sponsorship scandal. His credibility had already been damaged with his claim that he had the “moral authority” to govern. Yes, he ended the sponsorship program, and yes, he called for the public inquiry that is now threatening to pull down the whole government, but Paul Martin and his Liberal government are ultimately responsible for this mess. He may argue that he did not know about it – though he has not been implicated, one wonders whether it is possible for a finance minister to have been so blind. But even if he was unaware, even if this is just the case of a few Liberals gone bad, Martin is still accountable for prior wrongdoing as leader of the government of the day.

Unlike the regular presidential messages down south, it is very unusual for a prime minister to take to the airwaves in Canada. In fact, the last time it was done was during a national crisis – the Quebec referendum in 1995. Martin’s appeal to Canadians yesterday only underlines the fact that this corruption is a challenge not just to his own party, but to the whole political system. Democracy is threatened, and for all the talk about national unity and Quebec, the Liberals have only themselves to blame.

There is no doubt Martin seemed sincere and contrite. He apologized for the mess, taking personal responsibility for not being more vigilant with public money. And I agree with him that it is wise to wait until Justice Gomery files his report. Indeed it is only fair that one withholds complete judgement until the whole inquiry has run its course. But there is no doubt this government is heavily involved in this scandal. Moreover, it does not seem as if the regular operations of Parliament can continue in this fashion. Parliament has been effectively paralysed. Do we want to see long, drawn out electioneering – by the Liberal party, no less? Joe Volpe’s announcement a few days ago smacks of a desperate party grovelling at the feet of Canadian voters. It is only a matter of time before an election is called.

With all due respect – for I admit I identify most with the Liberal party - it would be disturbing if we were to have another election only to see Martin’s Liberals back in government, even if it be with a smaller minority. It would be unethical to vote for the Liberals despite their flagrant misuse of taxpayers’ dollars. Unfortunately the options are less than satisfactory. Can Canadians stand to have the Conservatives as minority government? It would not be a stretch of the imagination to see the Liberals back in power after the election.


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