Nothing in Ottawa succeeds like failure:
In a thoughtful reflective article about the ongoing trial of the City's Mayor, now into its fourth week, Don Martin; writing in the "National Post" last week argued that Mayor Larry O'Brien may have committed the sin of "pretending" to have influence.
During the first week of May, I watched my boss in the late 1990's, former CBC President, Perrin Beatty, testify before Mr. Justice Jeffrey Oliphant at the inquiry looking into the relationship between Brian Mulroney and Karl Heinz Schreiber.
Mr. Beatty, a seasoned Ottawa politician is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. At the start of the Schreiber cabal and the German-Canadian's dubious relationship with Mulroney, Perrin Beatty was Minister of National Defence and as such a main target of those who promoted the plan to build light armoured military vehicles in Nova Scotia.
Under questioning by the Inquiry Counsel, Richard Wolson, the former Defence Minister confirmed the standing order of the Mulroney cabinet of the eighties and early nineties that the Prime Minister wanted to know immediately if someone purported to speak on his behalf on any government matter. Mr. Mulroney has also since testified about that directive.
As we may be learning from the trial of the Mayor, it is just that Ottawa's culture, as Don Martin puts it..."pivots on the illusion and delusion that a nod and a wink from the right person can procure favours, services or appointments." In his appearance before Associate Chief Justice Douglas Cunningham, the Judge hearing the O'Brien case last Friday, the Minister of Transport, John Baird, testified that he gets accosted regularly by people seeking a shortcut to the government's largess. To the extent that he is obliged to keep a full-time staffer to sort-out the applications, requests and demands and red-flag the unworthy.
Perhaps as Karl Heinz Schreiber was hoping to do twenty years ago; or as in the much more recent alleged transgressions of Mayor Larry O'Brien: They just believe that somehow they command precious links over those at the epicentre of Federal power. In the "National Post" article author Martin says of the O'Brien case that...(perhaps) "he was merely following standard operating procedure in a capital where those pretending to have influence are usually peddling lies."
That conclusion might explain the paradox which intrigues Political Scientist, Michael Atkinson, of the University of Saskatchewan who teaches a course on Political Corruption. Professor Atkinson wants to know why two-thirds of Canadians believe that our political parties are affected by corruption, and that almost 40% conclude the same of our judiciary and legal systems. Professor Atkinson will be speaking on the topic at the Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences this week at Ottawa's Carleton University.
For a real revealing eye full over the perplexing paradox that - no matter what we do, we can never put an end to political corruption - The academics attending the Carleton conference could visit one or both of the two local intriguing and juicy legal inquiries currently involving the politicians O'Brien and Mulroney. It may just be that Canadians are suspicious and growing increasingly cynical that too frequently our politicians are up to no good.