Monday, April 12, 2010

John Ibbitson's Fucked-Up Priorities

John Ibbitson is valuable for one thing. His columns help to illustrate the nuances of our debased political culture. In this post I speculated that Ibbitson was a craven stooge for the harpercon party of Canada. I critiqued a column where he tried to snidely dismiss the scandal over Canada's complicity in the torture of Afghan detainees. After reading his offerings on the significance of the Guergis-Jaffer affair, I think it's safe to say that Ibbitson puts more importance into serving the folks who are themselves served by stephen harper and his gang of idiots. You see, the Afghan detainee scandal has to do with war crimes. With the arrest, torture, and possibly, death of innocent people, all to (ostensibly) prop-up some criminal narco-warlord state constructed to further US imperialist ambitions. Guergis and Jaffer might possibly have engaged in influence-peddling and Guergis is evidently guilty of the misuse of public resources in letting her husband use her Blackberry. One scandal has to do with our character as a fair-minded, compassionate, peace-loving people (which character is sad becoming only a distant memory) while Guergis-Jaffer is about making things problematic for rich people.

Observe how bent out of shape Ibbitson gets on how the Guergis-Jaffer scandal is going to impact the political climate:
But his [harper's] obsessive refusal ever to say more than he absolutely must left unanswered the only question on anyone's mind: What allegations? Until there is an answer, the capital is paralyzed.
Obviously, the government must be circumspect when dealing with a possible criminal investigation. But in an open democracy, citizens have the right and the need to know what is happening within the government. They deserve greater candour from the Prime Minister.
Contrast that sterling demand for "open democracy" on an issue of influence peddling with Ibbitson's glib depiction of the Special Committee on Canada's Mission in Afghanistan being unable to get information on what our government and military officials were doing in a war zone:
The detainees issue is dead in the water.

The Parliamentary committee examining the treatment of Afghan prisoners resumed hearings Wednesday, with nothing on offer but rhetoric.

Starved of new information, and stymied by a Conservative government that has relentlessly delayed releases, suppressed information or discredited witnesses – as the occasion warranted – government and opposition members were reduced to chasing their own rhetorical tail.

Of course, whatever Guergis and Jaffer may have been up to can't compare to Canada's slow descent into becoming a country that can no longer brag about its human rights record. But there's more to it than just financial sleaze:
This affair will derail all other agendas.
Um, 'scuse me John. Remember harper's recent prorogation of Parliament? (It was in all the papers.) Don't you think the governing of this country was "derailed" by that? Don't you think the constitutional crisis created by the government's contempt of Parliament is a serious thing?
That doesn't matter. In politics, scandal trumps policy, every time. We have a scandal. The noise of it will drown out everything else.
Oh, I don't know about that John. I've got a great idea! Why doesn't harper just refuse to cooperate with the police on this? Withhold evidence? Tell Parliament to piss up a rope? If it works for turning over Afghans to torturers, it'll work for some petty bullshit like this. Who cares if it's illegal? harper's not going to jail for covering-up torture (torture's illegal, remember?) he certainly won't go to jail for obstructing this investigation.

Now, for the record, I don't really think that the possible influence-peddling of Guergis and Jaffer isn't serious. Corruption infects and it spreads. And the more that Ottawa is governed by a "pay-to-play" mentality, the more ordinary Canadians are going to be excluded from their own political process. What I'm doing here is contrasting Ibbitson's seriousness on Guergis-Jaffer with his nonchalance about Canadian complicity in torture. For me, Canada's reputation as a human rights respecter is far, far more important than whether there's some money greasing access to government contracts. For the most part, the sort of people who are willing to pay for political access already have money. And the sort of people who would need to get the same kind of access and don't want to pay also have money. Whether ordinary Canadians take it on the chin because the government objectively implements the stupid policies of the C.D. Howe Institute as the most palatable policies, or whether they award contracts to the guy who lets harper use his Muskoka cottage for consideration, isn't all that important. And, actually, in case you haven't noticed, Canada's ruling class is already pretty corrupt. Brian Mulroney was allowed to "forget" to report $300,000 in cash payments from Karlheinz Schreiber without being punished. And a lot of people noted how it was US-American officials who finally lowered the boom on corporate criminals like Conrad Black and Alan Eagleson, who were able to operate with relative impunity in Canada. (If I didn't know better, I'd swear that maybe Guergis and Jaffer are in trouble because Jaffer and Jaffer's pushy, crass, grasping friend, Nazim Gillani, are brown-skinned "players" possibly ripping off wealthy white guys.)

"We can't have that!" they bluster at the country-club. "Let's get that 'Ibbitson' fellow to write something about this! Tell Harper to get serious about it!"


Alison said...

"Mr. Harper could, and should, propose a revolutionary new agreement that would transform both Canada and the U.S., truly launching the continent into the 21st century.
This is the perfect time to do something big. This is the time for a North American environmental, security and economic accord.

Canada should propose a harmonized, universal, continental market, coupled with massive joint investment aimed at reducing the environmental impact of the oil sands, in exchange for guarantees that the U.S. gets all the oil.

Let's not stop there. Let's propose a joint security agreement to prescreen goods and people coming into the continent. Let's set a joint tariff. Let's remove national protections on cultural and financial services."

~ John Ibbitson, Oct 22, 2008

thwap said...



Even so, consider how little Ibbitson was stirred when prorogation brought all this good work to a halt, with how worried he is about Guergis-Jaffer.

While I'm sure his continentalist insanity remained constant, he thinks Canadian complicity in torture as unworthy of anyone's concern and it's worth it to prorogue democracy to try to derail an investigation into it.

My god, though! He's even worse than I thought he was!