Friday, February 11, 2005

History in the mocking.

The Gomery Inquiry plods on and the exercise of getting to the "proof is a proof, because it's a proof", to quote a legacy-challenged former Prime Minister, is no closer to the real truth than when it started. The Canadian public, or at least that portion of it that has stayed awake, does know the truth. I won't belabour it, because most of us know it and Liberals will continue to deny the obvious.

What was interesting this week, of course, was the historic appearance of a sitting Prime Minister before a public inquiry for the first time in 132 years. With any luck, it will be another 132 years before Canadians have to watch another one. To that historic appearance, add the histrionic appearance of the former Prime Minister, and you have a pas de deux worthy of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Or more likely, Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in "Dirty Dancing".

The end result of their appearances was not illumination of the Liberal corruption so evident in the sponsorship scandal. That comes as a surprise to no one. The federal Liberals have turned prevarication and truth-defying denial into an art form. By now, we should be used to the arrogance, self-entitlement and disdain that is the real legacy of Jean Chretien. Never one to rest on his laurels, the petit gar from Shenanigan, sank to a new low last Tuesday. You have to admit that he's got a lot of balls, but his slice is really out of control.

One may disagree with anyone, but to mock Justice Gomery in a public inquiry in such a disdainful way, says a lot more about the character of Jean Chretien than it does about Justice Gomery. That Liberals would find it so amusing and admirable also says a lot about how that party views itself, and how it views Canadians. That the current Prime Minister would heap such praise on his former bitter adversary also says a lot about him.

Both Prime Ministers performed as expected and neither addressed the core issue of corruption and embezzlement of the public purse. Saving the nation remains Chretien's tired mantra, and so what if a few millions were stolen here and there. His angry, combative stance was vintage Chretien and reminded us of why we're glad he's gone.

The optional explanations for Paul Martin remain that he was either less than truthful or less than competent, in his apparent blindness to events. Aided by puff-ball inquiry lawyers, he managed to divert our attention from those equally unacceptable shortcomings with a riveting account of how he saved Mexico and slew the deficit dragon. There may be some truth to that, but what does it have to do with the question at hand? Well, nothing. But then, that was the point, wasn't it?

Both Prime Ministers have mocked the inquiry, the truth and Canadians; one in a pathetically theatrical way and one in an earnest, aw shucks way. Quite a pair of bookends to the mockery of modern Canadian political history.

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