In his column this morning, Thomas Walkom suggests that Mike Duffy's current scandal-plagued problems are representative of much deeper ones in the Senate, namely that our much-cossetted members of that 'chamber of sober second thought' are appointed, not because of their expertise (many of them have none), not because of intimate knowledge of a particular province (Duffy has none, having lived in Ottawa for over 30 years and not even legally qualified to represent P.E.I.), but because the Senate has become, under both Liberal and Conservative governments, a repository of party strategists and bagmen where they can continue their partisan wizardry.
No doubt Walkom is correct as far as he goes. But the above, it seems to me, are simply symptomatic of two much deeper problems in public life, the widespread disengagement of our citizens, about which I have written before, and the shocking dearth of integrity in those who achieve high office.
For example, all of the events surrounding the Duffy porkbarreling have, quite rightly, provoked widespread outrage. However, when the abuses and betrayals of the public trust are not so obvious or so sensational, far too many citizens just shrug their shoulders and say that politics doesn't interest them. This marked indifference is precisely what has permitted, even encouraged, the depradatory environmental, science, economic and social policies the Harper regime has so avidly embraced and promoted. It is this indifference that enabled Harper to prorogue Parliament twice. It is this indifference that enabled, without even a hint of contrition, the excesses of Treasury Board President Tony 'gazeebo' Clement. I could go on and on.
A sleeping public enables, even encourages the unethical, the unprincipled, those for whom integrity is an alien concept, to prey upon and erode the public good.
I have always tried to live my life with principle and integrity, as do so many others throughout the world. Because we inhabit a world requiring adaptation and compromise, integrity and principle are ideals toward which we strive, providing, as they do, a moral compass and the recognition that the solely material and secular things of this world often come with a price too high to pay.
I will close this post with a quote from Shakespeare's Macbeth, a man who learned that hard truth far too late, recognizing, as the end of his life approaches, that he has sacrificed everything of enduring value in his lust for power and pomp:
My way of life
Is fall'n into the sere, the yellow leaf;
And that which should accompany old age,
As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends,
I must not look to have; but in their stead
Curses, not loud but deep, mouth-honour, breath,
Which the poor heart would fain deny, and dare not.
-- Act v, Sc. 3
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Now does he feel
His secret murders sticking on his hands.
Now minutely revolts upbraid his faith-breach.
Those he commands move only in command,
Nothing in love. Now does he feel his title
Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe
Upon a dwarfish thief.
Despite the fact that English literature is dismissed by many of our current 'masters of the universe' as something of a frill, with nothing to offer the practical, results-driven mentality of our times, perhaps the likes of Stephen Harper, Senator Duff, Nigel Wright et al should have paid more attention to the classics during their formative years. They then might not be facing what I hope is soon a 'palace' revolt against corruption by their former enablers:
A strange, $90,000 gift to the undeserving Senator Duffy
Mike Duffy scandal finds the Tories in a moral maze without a compass
The only right thing left for Mike Duffy to do now is resign
How can the Tories keep Mike Duffy on now?
Duffy claimed Senate expenses while campaigning in 2011 election
STEVEN CHASE, KIM MACKRAEL AND BILL CURRY
Ethics watchdog to review Harper aide's $90,000 gift to Duffy
RCMP probes payments to senators Duffy, Brazeau, Harb
Then there is this from the always-reliable Toronto Star:
Questions and answers on the $90,000 payment to Mike Duffy
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* Show an absolute absence of anything that could be even remotely interpreted as integrity. Recommend this Post
If you want to see his full address, you can access it here.