“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5
We live in a cynical time. It’s an era of low voter turnout and declining civic engagement. There are many factors that contribute to this phenomenon. I think the single biggest source of cynicism is the double standard our elites have created for themselves.
Human beings are born with an innate sense of fairness. Anyone who has spent any time with children knows this. If I split dessert unevenly between my nephew and niece, believe me; I’m going to hear about it.
When people see double standards they get angry. When they feel there’s nothing that can be done about it they become apathetic. This fusion between anger and apathy produces cynicism.
People have a right to be angry. The Rule of Law is the cornerstone of modern society – one set of rules for everyone. However, the political class has chipped away at this magnificent principle and turned it into a punch line.
Mike Duffy is scheduled to go to trial this spring in the ongoing Senate expense scandal. Yet, Nigel Wright; Stephen Harper’s disgraced ex-Chief of Staff was never charged for cutting the $90,000 cheque to shut Duffy up. By definition a bribe involves at least two people. How can the guy who took the cheque be charged but the guy who cut it gets off scot free? This doesn’t even include the 12 other staffers and senators we know were involved in the whitewashing and cover up of the whole disgusting episode.
Only one person faces charges and I bet nothing comes of it. It’s business as usual amongst the elites. Wright has returned to his lucrative job overseas. Not only was he not charged, his career prospects weren’t even hindered.
This isn’t the only case of a secret payment that went public with no consequences in recent years.
We all remember Brian Mulroney spent two decades denying he ever took money from the German arms dealer Karlheinz Schreiber over the Airbus deal while he was Prime Minister. It was later revealed he had received up to $300,000 in cash stuffed in three envelopes that he dropped into a safety deposit box and never reported.
Mulroney sued the federal government in 1995 for libel over the RCMP investigation into this matter and received six million dollars in the settlement. He was asked under oath about his relationship with Schreiber.
Mulroney said “they had met for coffee a time or two.”
During the public inquiry in 2008 after it was revealed they had shared more than just coffee, he was asked why he didn’t tell the court about his full relationship with Schreiber, Mulroney said “he would have but he was never asked.” Even the judge who presided over the inquiry called that answer absurd.
At the end of the day, nothing came of it. Mulroney never faced jail time for lying under oath. His business interests weren’t harmed in the least. He was never even asked to reimburse taxpayers for the settlement money. Perjury is a serious crime. People on our side of the double standard go to jail for it all the time. The USA even impeached a President because of it.
Mulroney faced zero consequences.
Here in Ontario, citizens witnessed the disgusting spectacle of the gas plant scandal. Two plants were cancelled by Dalton McGuinty costing taxpayers two billion dollars. They happened to be in ridings he needed to secure re-election. His Energy Minister Chris Bentley then withheld documents from the Ontario Legislature and was cited in a rare contempt motion back in October 2012. McGuinty prorogued the legislature to kill the motion.
McGuinty resigned from politics shortly after. His punishment? He went to Harvard to teach in the Ivy League school’s Department of Government.
All of these antics depress ordinary people who work hard and play by the rules. Until the hypocrisy in our political class is replaced by the Rule of Law for everyone, cynicism will remain a fact of life in our country.