Saturday, October 26, 2013

Advocating for a Public "Trial" of all actors, including the Prime Minister, in Canadian Senate scandal

Conservative Senators in Canada who support the removal of three miscreant members of their august body, repeatedly state, "They would be gone in the corporate world."
The three Senators under fire, for allegedly mis-spending public funds, under what most would agree were/are murky and evolving guidelines, moved by those in power to suit their needs, apparently, often mention the phrase they are clambering for: "due process"...or "habeus corpus"...innocent until proven guilty.
Corporate firings cannot and must not be a model for public servants, on any level. Management, in the corporate sector have very different rights and responsibilities than does the government of Canada, especially among those both elected and appointed to serve the public interest. And let's be really frank about this case: It has to be seen in the light of the public interest. And the public interest cannot be measured the same way as the corporate interest of a giant corporation would and could be measured. There, the interest is exclusively in profit, in meeting the expectations of the shareholders.
And everything else is secondary to that goal, purpose and raison d'etre.
In the public interest, however, there are many very different purposes and goals, and ultimately they can never be completely reduced to "spending" of public dollars, otherwise this government in particular would have fallen many years ago, for its waste in prison construction, its waste in attempting to purchase F-35 Fighter Jets, and in its sabotaging of too many public sector jobs most of which were integral to the public interest, in areas like environmental research, gathering and adducing meaning from national statistics, and the list goes on.
So let's not hear Harper and his cronies focus on spending habits as the prime purpose of the national interest.
While it is true that Harper and his cronies in the Conservative Party are determined to replace the appointed Senate with an elected body, this current approach to the achievement of that goal is not merely reprehensible; it is also blatantly illegal, if we are to continue to live under the traditions and laws and processes that have brought this country into this century after many years of honourable and heavy debates, and a legal tradition that places the suspected individual in a place where, at least, the public interest demands, requires and expects, on his/her behalf, a full hearing, a full opportunity to question witnesses, and a full opportunity to have whatever evidence is adduced, produced and documented thoroughly reflected upon by a group of ordinary people, in the court system, called a jury. And even under such scrupulous requirements, considered reasonable and minimal since the passing of the Habeus Corpus section of the Magna Carta in 1215, still there are innocent people who are inevitably found guilty. And for those grievous mistakes, the state remains constantly on guard not to repeat such errors.
Putting the political agenda, that is the goal of abolishing the appointed Senate and replacing it with an elected one, or even of abolishing the body entirely, as the NDP would do, it opposition to the fundamental rights of individuals whose actions, attitudes and even philosophy are not congruent with those of the people who wield power in this country, cannot and must not be an approach that any self-respecting and engaged citizen can or would tolerate. One plank on a political platform can never eliminate or even threaten a fundamental human right of all citizens, even lowly 'scum' like former journalist-Senators, appointed and adored previously by those now skewering them at the public stake for their ability to raise corporate funds for party coffers.
Public opinion, the ultimate jury of the governing class, has to assert itself in this case, and demand that the Senate reject a government bill to suspend without pay or benefits, these three alleged miscreants. It must also demand that all of those involved, up to and including the Prime Minister be subpoenaed to an already existing court of law, whether that be the Supreme Court or a Federal Court, or even a specially generated court of both Senators and Members of Parliament, where all relevant questions can be asked, answered and where the complete process, perhaps excluding the private deliberations of the "jury" as appointed, can and will be televised as one of, if not the most watched political and historic events in this country's history.
A commission, like Gomery, following the sponsorship scandal in the Liberal Party, is not adequate. This situation demands a much higher profile, with perhaps a retired Supreme Court judge presiding, and a jury selected with the acceptance of lawyers for all parties from the members of both houses of parliament, and a televised unedited record available through the services of the parliament of Canada so that all Canadians can listen, evaluate and eventually form a judgement of the guilt and or innocence of the various parties, including the Prime Minister. And should the jury of this "house" decide that it is the Prime Minister and his cronies who have so manipulated the situation for their political games and goals, then the Governor General must prorogue the current session of Parliament and call for a general election.
The very foundations of our constitutional government are being attacked through these three "easy targets" and the people, whether or not they agree with the Senators under fire, or the PMO or the government, require a complete public airing of the background and the implications of these charges and these political expulsions.
They would be , if the Senate votes to suspend without pay or benefits, historically considered, as they are, political expulsions. And political expulsions, even for misdeeds, without an appropriate and balanced and public hearing for the defence, is not how constitutional government has worked in the past and must work in the future.

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