The Editorial Page
On things political

Many years ago I was known to suggest that what this country needed was a benevolent dictator -- and it must be a woman. Well, looking at the chaos that men have created in many areas of Canadian government, I would say it's about time we gave it a shot.

Certainly, it has taken a woman to expose one gawd-awful mess in high places that men seem to have been pretty much responsible for creating.. Kudos to Auditor General Sheila Fraser, the first person to have the honesty and/or the courage to really open up this can of worms. Apparently it's been going on for a long time, yet we heard nothing about it from those men who were employed to keep an eye on the shekels before Ms. Fraser took on the task.

There's an interesting, but perhaps apropos saying, "There are none so blind as those who will not see."

What's a life worth these days? If the $100 million that are alleged to have gone fraudulently into many pockets had, instead, been spent to improve health care in even one or two areas of this country, how many more lives might have been saved? To say nothing of the rest of the $250 million purportedly given to Quebec agencies to encourage Quebeckers to like the rest of Canada better. And this is certainly only the tip of the iceberg. If the truth were told, all Canadians might be enjoying the health care, educational, environmental and every other service for which we pay heavily with our tax dollars -- instead of having those hard-earned dollars go to enrich the lifestyles of some politicians, bureaucrats and their friends.

With numerous (and all-but-forgotten) Liberal boondoggles, culminating with this current fiasco, staring them in the face, Canadians are finally questioning the wisdom of re-electing Liberals term after term. And if the NDP are just too left wing for some voters, what is their alternative? The new Conservative Party, born in deceit and more right-wing than most of us can stomach? Don't forget, Canadians wouldn't vote for Stephen Harper before. Why should they now? Just because the name of the party has changed?

Before leaving the NDP possibility -- and I don't deny the impact Jack Layton has been making, there are just a few things that don't ring quite right in that belfry. In the same way that the big major parties have long been dominated by the corporate interests who have heavily financed them, the NDP are too heavily influenced by the unions for the comfort of many critics. And when Canadian independence and environmental concerns, listed at the top of the lists of concerned citizens, are carefully avoided in the speeches of Mr. Layton and other big names in that party, one needs to take extreme caution as to where to place one's trust. They appear to be making little if any mention of the free trade agreements and the part they are playing in handing Canada over to America and American corporate interests, lock, stock and barrel. As one person was heard to comment, deciding which issues to flog are a major element of campaign strategy, so the omission of these major concerns says much. More Canadians need to realise that all this privatising that governments are promoting is leading straight to the sell-off of Canadian industry and natural resources to U.S. corporations, helped along by the unfair regulations contained in NAFTA.

The time has come for a middle-of the-road alternative. Canadians are crying for it. There may, in fact, be a couple of alternatives.

PC loyalists (as those PC members who would not go along with the merger now call themselves) have filed a party under the name Progressive Canadian Party. (They tried first under the now-defunct name Progressive Conservative Party, but Elections Canada would have none of that.) They have acquired the 100 signatures required and now seek candidates in at least 50 ridings across Canada to make them an officially registered party. They see themselves as a continuation of the old PC Party, with similar, if not the same, goals and policies, but without the baggage that took their former party into playing with the Alliance Party. And if you haven't noticed, the Progressive Canadian Party will read "PC Party" on ballots. These people expect to scoop up all those who, like them, never went along with the merger; all those who went along with it but now can't stay under Stephen Harper (who makes it all look like the "takeover" many believe it to be); all those Liberals who can't live with the rotten smell rising in Ottawa; and all those Canadians who have felt, for a long time, that they simply had no one to vote for. If you wish to jump on this bandwagon, you can reach Joe Hueglin at 905-356-3901. He is the national co-ordinator of the Progressive Canadian Party.

The other alternative has been around for a couple of elections now -- the Canadian Action Party. The failure of its leader, the Honourable Paul Hellyer, to achieve his dream of bringing the smaller parties together as One Big Party to fight the Paul Martin Goliath has resulted in Mr. Hellyer, sadly, stepping down as leader. It is unfortunate that the CAP has never caught fire with Canadians. Some seem to have been obsessed with Mr. Hellyer's role in amalgamating the Canadian Armed Forces earlier in his political career -- the first thing almost anyone and everyone brought up with me when I mentioned his name here. (We do live on the outskirts of one of Canada's largest military bases.) It is quite possible that the CAP's emphasis on monetary reform is not understood by Canadians, and that is unfortunate.

At its March convention, CAP is confirming its national president, Connie Fogal, as its new leader. (Please see all the details in the regular feature, "CAPturing Courage" on page 7 of this issue.) If you are unfamiliar with Ms. Fogal, I am not. I met her at meetings in Ottawa on a couple of occasions, have read a great many of her writings (publishing some in these pages), and have seen her use her talents as a Vancouver lawyer to fight the MAI in the courts. She is bright, if not brilliant. And she is an unashamedly proud Canadian who fights fiercely for what is best for this country.

Looking at the utter chaos of Canada's political scene these days, it is no surprise that Canadians have increasingly less incentive to get out and vote. Paul Martin may be forced to make some meaningful changes. However, it is likely to be too little, too late. Surely voters will not be fooled. Surely they will remember who this country's finance minister was when so many people were playing fast-and-loose with our tax dollars (over which he was the steward). Surely they do not believe that a leopard can change its spots.

Although leadership options have been made available to him by both of the alternative parties mentioned above, David Orchard has so far not expressed interest in being involved with anything but the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada -- a party that has been relegated to the history books by many others. Some of his followers are disappointed, feeling he has left them high and dry with no political home from which to fight the expected election. Others are sitting faithfully by, waiting for him to be ready to give them leadership and direction. Unfortunately, the other parties will not sit around waiting for the Orchard Option to materialize. The neo-Cons, in particular, think they have vanquished him. They may have another think coming!

Personally yours. . .

A number of unhappy situations involving family and close friends have combined with other things to make life exceedingly stressful over the past few months. This change of focus has made it necessary to combine the winter and spring editions of D&D. Thank you for your continued support, financially and otherwise, and for your patience. When things get difficult, it is your enthusiasm that keeps this publication alive. Don't forget to check our web site where you will find updated news, even when you are missing the print version in your mailboxes.