Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Take a Look in the Mirror

We have rules for a reason. Our society has an order to it so that we can perpetuate ourselves in a relatively peaceful fashion. Without rules there is only anarchy. In a democratic nation those rules are normally enshrined in a Constitution - written or unwritten. We, in Canada, have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and our British parliamentary tradition. Those are the rules that govern our society, and those are the influences that shaped our order. Mr Harper, and his crew, have violated those rules in a manner that has become dangerous.

It is one thing to be creative within the rules to gain advantage over a political opponent. It is another thing to destroy the foundation for the rules in the process. Put simply, Mr Harper, and his government, have abused power in order to gain more. The question remains: "Aren't those that abuse power supposed to lose it?" That is the underlying principle of democratic systems of government since their inception, isn't it? Aren't there rules, even in the jungle, that allow for the species to go on? Isn't this the main one?

Mr. Harper orchestrated his own government's demise. On it's face that would seem fair enough. Expensive, but within the rules of a minority government. He did after all launch a two month advertising campaign against Mr Ignatieff prior to the election. Unless you believe he would waste a  massive amount of dollars on an advertising campaign to destroy Mr Ignatieff's character well before an election, then the obvious conclusion is that he did so with full knowledge there would be one. Considering the fact that the future of the government was essentially in his hands it is also logical to assume he intended for it to fall. This doesn't harm the democratic process in itself. Where the harm comes is did he profit from "insider trading"? Did he know that the Auditor General's report was scheduled to be tabled in Parliament? Did he know the Report on Afghan Detainees was due to be released by the committee investigating damaging documents? The answer is yes - on both counts.

Some would say that was a skilled political move by a savvy politician. Others would say it was an abuse of power that undermines the principles our order is based upon. I believe the latter. By manipulating events to avoid responsibility the government has diminished the value of responsible government. Each of us are taught that being responsible for our actions, or inactions, is a basic law of all interaction - whether it be in family life, interpersonal relationships, or business life.

Mr Harper stated that he supported the immediate release of the Auditor General's Report on the G20. What he doesn't say is that he knew full well the report had to be tabled in Parliament, and could not be released when that Parliament had been dissolved. So it was safe for him to play innocent when he knew it could not be called. Same goes for the Afghan Detainee Report. He knew it had to be tabled with the committee that was over seeing the investigation in Parliament, and that when Parliament dissolved so did that committee. Love to release it, but nobody to release it to - sorry. Just  last week Harper's team was in Federal Court to prevent the Military Police from completing it's report on the Afghan Detainee investigation .

The cause of this is a catastrophic failure of leadership. Just like Somalia, where the senior leadership of the otherwise well respected Airbourne Regiment let the rules of war slide, and  paid with it's existence. Another case is the murder of a wounded Afghan on the battlefield by Captain Robert Semrau. Part of our instinct is to put something in pain, that has no hope for life, out of it's misery. However, the rules of warfare deem this action illegal. The reason there are rules of combat is to give a hellish action some guidelines so it doesn't spin out of control. It's a basic rule of survival of the species. Once one taboo is crossed then the next will follow and so on. The generations before us went through these experiences on a global scale, and designed the Geneva Convention to stop us from destroying ourselves. It became a part of the rules of our order.

The problem is expediency. The solution is the rules. Mr Harper is taking the path of expediency. His arbitrary and obvious flouting of our democratic principles place our democracy in peril. If our democracy is made a mockery then our foundation of problem resolution is destroyed. If our ability to resolve problems is compromised then our ability to function, economically or socially, is undermined. In other words we are left with democracy of expediency - anarchy. Anything goes as long as you can get away with it.

Consider then the near future. The province of Quebec is set to elect a separatist government. In 2013 the equalization agreement must be renegotiated. If Mr Harper wins the election he will be in charge and responsible for creating a fair redistribution of wealth within Confederation. The separatists will have learned from the example Mr Harper set that anything goes - nothing is sacred. There are no rules or responsibilities. There are no obligations to maintain peace, the country, or it's economy. All that matters is the goal - in their case a separate country. They will be able to break all the rules to achieve that end, because the Prime Minister himself did the same in the actions, and inactions of his government. Mr Harper will not be able to appeal to the higher ground, because there won't be one left. That is what happens when power is abused. That is why those that abuse it are supposed to lose it. It's called the proper exercise of power and self-preservation. They go hand in hand. The father can not abuse his wife and then lecture his son on hitting girls. It is that simple. Leadership starts at the top and the rest of us are expected to follow. Be careful of your example, and be prepared to accept the consequences.

It is time to end the breaking of the rules. It is time to win by the rules, and lose by the rules. It is time to return to honour and be seen as honourable. It is time for those that abuse power to lose it. Mr Harper take a good long look in the mirror.

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