Amid the cynical furor of Canadian politics, Andrew Coyne singles out four people -- three men and one woman -- who have credibility because they are guided by conscience, not convenience. Coyne writes:
Politics is about packs; the more ruthless, more disciplined, more pack-like of the parties mauls the others into submission. It prizes loyalty, not before all other virtues, but to their exclusion. We hunt together, the aspiring politician is told. Stick with the pack. And so each learns to scrape and smear, to manipulate and deceive, to promise one and threaten another, exactly as he is told.
Luckily, there are some people who refuse to run with the pack. Coyne cites four of them: Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, Former Auditor General Sheila Fraser, and her successor Michael Ferguson.
Kevin Page has encountered nothing put stonewalling from the Harperites, who insisted on government accountability:
Various ministers of the government have been sent out to smear him, first claiming he was incompetent, then, when his numbers were borne out, that he was exceeding his authority. Through it all the PBO has kept digging, kept issuing his reports, kept demanding to see the data to which he is entitled under the law. And slowly, grudgingly, the government has been forced to yield.
When Mark Carney announces that interest rates will remain stable for fifteen months, people know he means what he says:
That credibility is partly personal, partly institutional. It is a reputation that has been earned over many years, under both Carney and his predecessors: A Bank of Canada governor does not make promises he will not keep, or say things he knows to be untrue. More than an expectation, it is almost a definition.
And, when Sheila Fraser accused the Chretien Liberals of breaking "every rule in the book,"
there were furtive attempts to go after her as well. Whisper campaigns were put about to the effect that she was out of control, that she was embarked on a “witch hunt.” We recall how that turned out. Whatever institutional power the government might have possessed, Fraser’s reputational power demolished it. It wasn’t even a fair fight.
Finally, there is Michael Ferguson. He called the F-35 purchase the boondoggle it was:
Even as the government was pretending to accept his findings the former parliamentary secretary to the Defence Minister, Laurie Hawn, was circulating a letter accusing the Auditor General of misunderstanding such basic terms as “acquisition,” of being unable to get basic facts right, even of being “disingenuous.” But the public knew whom to believe.
All four of these people have been smeared by Canada's elected politicians. But, despite the attacks, they have credibility. No one believes our politicians. At the moment, it's only the people of conscience who stand between us and plutocracy.