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May 16, 2005

The Posse

by David Orchard

Even way out here on the prairies at seeding time, above the noise of the tractors, we can hear the howls of righteousness from the new Conservative party and the Bloc Québecois in Ottawa.

The government is corrupt. It should resign. Not now, yesterday!

MPs ill with cancer travelled all the way from Alberta and BC to vote to topple the government, but still it wouldn't resign. In fact, the government almost appeared ungrateful for the sacrifice these MPs informed us they had made to get to Ottawa for the vote.

Our media seem to be on board one widely watched national news programme shows Mr. Martin and other Liberals on wanted posters, old west style, then we are shown the "posse" out to get them: Stephen Harper, Peter MacKay and John Reynolds.

John Reynolds? Is this the same John Reynolds who attempted to become a GST Senator for Mr. Mulroney in 1990? Did not Chuck Guité tell us that corruption was worse under the Mulroney administration than under the Liberals? But now Mr. Reynolds is riding with the posse and singing in the holier-than-thou choir.

Right beside him is Peter MacKay. Peter MacKay? Is he not the lawyer from Nova Scotia, an officer of the court, who signed a contract to rebuild the Progressive Conservative party, not to merge with the Alliance, received in return the votes needed to win his leadership crown, then promptly betrayed his signature, his firm handshake and his repeated words of promise?

But of course, that was then, and, as the saying goes, this is now. That must have been all of two years past.

And Mr. MacKay's new leader, the king of the self-righteous brigade, is none other than Stephen Harper. "Yon Cassius," Shakespeare's Caesar once warned, "has a lean and hungry look." Is this the same Stephen Harper who counselled, urged, demanded that Mr. MacKay betray his solemn commitment to rebuild the Progressive Conservative party? Is this the same Mr. Harper whose party seized and refuses to return some $70,000 in campaign donations to a former candidate for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada?

Of course that was simply seventy thousand dollars of individual donations made under Canada's electoral finance laws. Nothing to get excited about. Nothing compared to $50,000 put into envelopes and described to Mr. Gomery.

Speaking of $50,000, wasn't it the Bloc's counterpart, the Parti Québecois, that, we were told, received $50,000 as well? But of course, it's only Liberal corruption we are supposed to speak about today which, I suppose, is why so little mention is made of the hundreds of thousands in cash paid to Mr. Reynolds' old friend, Mr. Mulroney, by Karl-Heinz Schreiber. Also off topic.

Back to the Conservatives' partner in the saintly chorus, the Bloc. All in white robes and sporting halos as they intone each day about the rot in Liberal ranks and clamour for an immediate election which will, coincidentally, consolidate their grip on Québec.

Is this the same Bloc whose members pledge an oath of allegiance to our country and its institutions, accept monthly pay cheques and pensions from the federal treasury and then do everything in their power to break up the nation? Is this the same Bloc whose members' federally funded offices across Québec function as field offices for the movement to pull Québec out of Canada? As Jimi Hendrix put it, "Excuse me, while I kiss the sky."

Did I miss the public inquiry Mr. Parizeau and the Bloc's founder Lucien Bouchard called to look into the misuse of public money to promote the break-up, rather than the preservation, of the country?

I must have been asleep in front of the television when Mr. Mulroney or was it Kim Campbell called a public inquiry in the full glare of cameras to look into charges of Conservative party kickbacks and why exactly that cash was paid to Mr. Mulroney in those hotel rooms.

Funny, it seemed that it was Jean Chrétien, in 2003, who cleaned up the federal campaign financing rules in Canada, modelling them on René Levesque's legislation in Quebec. Was it not this same corrupt Chrétien who picked up the phone and called in the RCMP on troubles he smelled in the sponsorship programme? Wasn't it his almost as corrupt successor, Mr. Martin, who set up the televised commission to investigate the sponsorship affair?

Of course, being way out west, sitting on a tractor so long, you miss a lot. I'm sure our new government under Mr. Harper, Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Duceppe will make us all proud, and of course after the coming referendum, there will be so much less territory and money for Ottawa to have to worry about anyhow.

David Orchard is the author of the bestseller, The Fight for Canada - Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism, and ran for the leadership of the federal Progressive Conservative Party in 1998 and 2003. He farms at Borden, SK and can be reached at tel (306) 652-7095, E-mail:,

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