Power before principles

Former Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler recently accused the federal Liberals of caring more about votes than policy.

Former Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler recently accused the federal Liberals of caring more about votes than policy.

Some Grits were offended by his harsh words, which were uttered at a party conference in Montreal, but is there a Canadian political party that would not sell its soul to win an election?

There are some good, honest people involved in politics at the local, provincial and federal levels, but unfortunately there are also an extraordinary number of self-serving weasels at all three levels. And unfortunately, many people can’t tell the difference.

Regrettably, even the people who start out honest are often corrupted by the political process. They get returned to Ottawa, Edmonton or city hall a couple of times by the electorate, and pretty soon they consider themselves entitled to a job for life.

Some of them couldn’t care less about their constituents.

Federally and provincially, political parties generally require elected representatives to parrot the company line — even if they don’t agree.

Those who rock the boat and stick up for their constituents, as Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Guy Boutilier did, usually end up leaving the party — voluntarily or otherwise.

Getting back to Fowler, critical as he was of the Liberals, he also took the federal Conservatives to task.

He noted that the Tories have poured their energies and our money into fighting a futile and pointless war in Afghanistan, while largely ignoring the needs of people suffering in Africa.

Fowler said the sooner Canada gets its troops out of Afghanistan the better, because “the bottom line is that we will not prevail in Afghanistan.”

He also pointed out that the Conservatives have bent over backwards to appease Israel in order to secure Jewish votes in Canada — damaging this country’s reputation as a straight-shooter on international issues in the process.

“I deplore the abandonment of our hard-won reputation for objective analysis and decency as a result of our reckless Middle Eastern posturing,” the former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations said.

As a society, we need honest commentators like Fowler to help voters separate the wheat from the chaff.

Of course, many Canadian voters won’t have read or heard any of the words he spoke recently in Montreal, but there is a small chance that opinion leaders across the nation will have followed his speech and spread his wisdom to other voters.

If more voters took the time to become properly informed, we’d probably elect better political representatives and better governments, but don’t hold your breath for that to happen.

Most people just can’t be bothered. And so, in a way, many Canadians get the governments they deserve.

Canadians voters tend to be apathetic and our political leaders and their parties know that as well as anyone. What a shame!

Lee Giles is an Advocate editor.