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by Paul Albers
It's official, Team Martin has become Team Corruption.
In February of 2004 Martin appeared on a CBC radio call in show and stated, "The Liberal party is not corrupt. Every single Liberal across the country wants to find the answer to this. Every single Liberal across this country is sick about this."
Given Martin's recent national confession it seems they were only sick about getting caught.
In his pre-recorded address on Tuesday the Prime Minister said: 'There are people who think I was wrong to call this inquiry, wrong to expose my government to the political cost of the scrutiny that has ensued." On Sunday he appeared on CBC's Cross Country Checkup and went even further. Martin stated, "I got tons of advice: 'Don't have this commission, hide this thing, put it under the rug'."
Now who would be giving the Prime Minister such advice? Not the opposition parties and definitely not the Canadian taxpayer. Clearly it was Martin's fellow Liberals urging him to obstruct an investigation into what now appears to be acts of fraud, bribery, influence peddling, and the circumventing of electoral law.
Martin is left with trying to portray himself as a model of chastity living in a brothel, but the act is far from convincing. Every step he took towards finding the truth was taken with the sharp stick of public opinion pressing into his back.
When the opportunity to delay damning revelations was available, he took it. In the months before the election the Public Accounts Committee was constantly frustrated by the Liberal members who held the majority. Those members were hand picked by Martin, and under his watch they limited the witness list and shut the inquiry down early. Then Martin broke his word and called an election before the facts were known, before the public had good reason to believe that this scandal was not just another case of government mismanagement but a full blown criminal enterprise.
There could be MPs, or even Cabinet Ministers among those who recommended a cover-up. We don't know of course because Martin hasn't named any names, nor is he likely to.
The integrity of our government is in tatters, the legitimacy of past elections (including the 1995 referendum) is undermined, and the expectation is that things will get worse, not better, for the Liberals as the inquiry continues. How then can Liberals of the current government be trusted to sincerely defend the inquiry and the judge from legal attacks by past Liberal governments, especially when the current Prime Minister was so prominent in each? Both sides stand to benefit from the same result.
Justice John Gomery is wise enough to see the conflict of interest and has retained his own lawyers to ensure he is properly defended, but if Justice Gomery can't trust the government to defend his interests, why should Canadian taxpayers trust the government to defend theirs?
It is not Justice Gomery's job to tell us if we should trust the Liberal party to govern or not. It is our right to decide that on our own. The verdict on this government doesn't come from the bench but from the jury of Canadian voters. Once the witness finish testifying, a jury deliberates and reaches a verdict. Delaying an election until the winter only gives Martin more time for jury tampering.
The last federal election cost $247-million. That's a lot of money, but NOT holding an election has cost the Canadian taxpayer over $4.6-billion, and it won't stop there. The deal that NDP Leader Jack Layton essentially blackmailed Martin into accepting puts 340,000 permanent jobs at risk to protect the employment of 132 Liberal MPs for a few months.
It is tempting to ask if there's anything the Liberal party won't do to cling to power, but that is not the important question now. The real question is: are the Canadian people equally corrupt? Will we take a bribe, will we peddle our influence, will be cave in to intimidation and threats, will propaganda sway us, and will we tolerate corruption just because it is convenient to do so?
The Liberals are betting that we will.
Paul Albers is a freelance columnist living in Ottawa[email protected]