Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Liberal Party MP takes stand against responsible government, apparently to curry favour with antisemites

24 Hours Vancouver
OTTAWA — Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is facing a possible investigation by Parliament’s ethics commissioner in the wake of his threat to axe funding to a group whose president called him a “professional whore.”

Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis has filed a complaint against Kenney with Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson, saying he believes the minister violated the parliamentary ethics code.

“I believe for the Minister to use his position and exert undue influence and or in this case instruct his officials to hold funding from such an NGO; this sets a bad precedent which clearly should not be allowed to stand,” according to a copy of the complaint obtained by Sun Media.

“With this move the Minister sends out a signal to community-based NGOs to toe the line or risk losing their funding.”

Karygiannis, whose Toronto riding is served by the federation’s settlement program, said funding for groups should be decided by civil servants based on the group’s performance — not on the basis of partisan politics.

Alykhan Velshi, spokesman for Kenney, described the complaint as “ridiculous” and said it was “disturbing” to see a Liberal MP standing up for a group that has made anti-semitic comments.

The controversy centres on a dispute between Kenney and the Canadian Arab Federation. Earlier this year, federation president Khaled Mouammar called Kenney a “professional whore” for supporting Israel.

Kenney shot back, saying groups like the federation whose leaders say intolerant or hateful things shouldn’t get taxpayer money. Kenney said he has asked his department to weigh public comments made by groups when assessing their funding applications.
Forget about the Canadian Arab Federation for a moment. Here we have a Liberal Party MP talking as if it is in any circumstance illegitimate for our duly constituted government to make political decisions in respect to how state money is spent, if this somehow contravenes some ethic of multicultural relativism in which the various self-appointed ethnic organizations presume a right to their share of government money, whatever their politics and whatever hatreds they promote.

The fundamental principle of Canada's constitutional democracy is that of responsible government: we give significant power to make government decisions to the Prime Minister and his other cabinet ministers, and in turn expect them to carry the full blame for bad decisions made by them or their departments. The great advantage of knowing exactly who is responsible for political decisions is that it allows us to minimize scandal as we isolate responsibility and pass judgment accordingly on our governments, both in Parliament and at the polls. Ideally, in our system where power is centralized in a few hands, decisions can be made that really matter, that make things happen; and then we all develop a better understanding of our stakes in that active reality as we choose whether to support or not the government. It is all too easy in our age when everyone and his dog wants to play the victim of the powers that be, to forget how necessary it is for our shared political freedom to have people who can take on - transparently and with full accountability - the basic need for someone to make decisions that can initiate political events and debates. Without such responsible executive authority initiating events, we cannot all share in an exchange of ideas about our shared reality, that we may take a regular measure of who and what we are, and trade in the political signs that events create as we oppose and ally and shape our shared future.

Yet for some people, the notion of a shared future leads them to imagine only victims of the normal course of decision making in a free society. For them, a shared future can only be a future where nothing happens to anyone that would lead anyone to complain that they are not sharing equally in our shared future: in other words, a future where nothing can happen, where no real political freedom can exist, lest it create winners and losers.

When Jim Karygiannis suggests that some anonymous, publicly-not-accountable bureaucrats be given the job of deciding what kind of politics from ethnic or religious lobbies is acceptable - i.e. whether their politics is getting in the way of the job they are being given money to do - he is suggesting that we don't let things happen in a way that will shake any boats. He is implicitly denying that we all have a stake in the political games a publicly-funded group like the Canadian Arab Federation play. He implicitly denies that we need duly-elected and responsible ministers to make a market in which we can trade our stakes in our system of government. Karygiannis implicitly suggests that the government take the lead in suggesting we all shut up about some group's hate mongering, sweeping it under the rug. I think he should be taking a clear stand on whether he accepts that the CAF is engaging in antisemitic hate mongering, and if so whether he condones it as legitimate criticism (of Israel, or whatever). He should call on all the scared ethnoreligious lobbyists who have maybe been phoning his office, scared that they might be next to be called out publicly for their politics, that instead of thinking they can get government money as if by multicultural right, that they too must make public their stake in the system: they too should be commenting on what the CAF is doing, and they too should realize that in our system of political freedom we we elect a government precisely to make political decisions about what kind of groups we do and do not want to support with public money.

Karygiannis' instincts are those of a growing class of people who seem to want to replace all forms of constitutional or responsible government with some over-arching law of multicultural political correctness mediated by lawyers, bureaucrats, media, acdemics, and NGOs, according to a ruling ethic of moral and cultural relativism. Apparently, it is those who dream of some kind of end to nation states freely exercising their sovereignty, those who dream that global conflicts can somehow be transcended if only this sovereignty is tightly bound and the right kind of international liberal elites are put in charge, while politicians who would make clear distinctions between good and evil are put out to pasture as an anachronism of some dark age of political simpletons, who have been achieving success in shaping opinion in the Liberal Party of Canada.

But what is lost to this victim-worshiping outlook is the fact that the dream of overcoming conflict is Utopian, and that scapegoating duly-constituted centres of authority is highly dangerous to our shared political freedom. The best way to deal with conflict is not by trying to reduce all conversation to some code of Politically Correct relativism, where anything and hence nothing goes, but rather by allowing, in different ways, both free citizens and duly constituted government leaders to take a lead in initiating public political events that then allow the rest of us to respond, and trade positions and political and economic capital, in continually rediscovering what kind of people we today are and where we want to be heading. But that kind of thing is apparently too scary to a PC brigade leader like Karygiannis. No doubt he is hearing from many other political "players" who who don't want to judge but just want to play along in hopes that somehow the money machine of government will forever continue to work if everyone just shuts up and makes sure everyone is paid off. This is the hubris that, sooner or later, brings an end to each and every multicultural empire history has known. If you deny the need for responsible and accountable decision making at the various centres of a political system, eventually there are no events to attract our shared interest and exchange, and the centre can no longer hold people together. If we are not free to elect and remove governments that take clear stands on who is and is not in favour, it is then that the cheap and easy resentments - that group x is getting away with something and there is nothing anyone can say or do that will make a difference - develop an intensity that can really rip a system apart.

But, a cynic might ask, what else can we expect from a Liberal Party that has recently denied its members a vote on who should be their leader?

No comments: