While many of us watch with dismay what is happening south of the border — the so-called Era of Trump — recent developments on the home front are nothing to be proud of. We have every reason to be angry and resolved not to take it anymore.
Where to start: In Ottawa, the shameful and retrograde behaviour of Senator Dan Meredith, a Harper appointee, married and a Pentecostal pastor, who used his status to entice a 16-year-old girl into what became a two-year sexual relationship. In the words of the Senate ethics committee: “There was an obvious imbalance of power” between Meredith and the young woman, who was “in a position of relative youth and vulnerability.”
The Senate ethics committee has called for his expulsion — this will be unprecedented, but his ethical shortcomings and abusive behavior call for every possible effort to get him out of there. Obviously he failed to give his actions the sober second thought that Senators are asked to perform on legislation. In the aftermath of the scandalous behaviour of three other Harper appointees — Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Patrick Brazeau — and Liberal appointee Mac Harb, Meredith must go! And we hold Justin Trudeau to his pledge when running for the leadership to appoint higher caliber people.
More than ever, if the Senate is to retain any semblance of credibility, it needs people with proven records of ethical behavior and commitment to the greater good. Nothing will repair the harm done to Meredith’s victim.
Still in Ottawa, we were shocked to read of the false claim by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, a former Vancouver cop and major in the Canadian Armed Forces reserve, in a speech in New Delhi where he said: “On my first deployment to Kandahar in 2006, I was the architect of Operation Medusa, where we removed 1,500 Taliban fighters off the battlefield … and I was proudly on the main assault.”
None of this is true, as far as Sajjan’s role in the operation goes: he gathered intelligence and was commended for it in what became the biggest and costliest battle for Canadian troops in Afghanistan, but he was not “the architect of the operation.”
Sajjan has apologized but failed to explain why he made this false claim, which could be qualified as “stolen valour.” Sajjan has shown that he lacks the exemplary moral fibre to lead those who put their lives on the line in carrying out Canadian military goals.
Prime Minister Trudeau has accepted his apology, but Sajjan, like NBC host Brian Williams, must be at least demoted, if not removed from cabinet. Williams was sacked as anchor of its nightly TV news show when he claimed he was embedded with U.S. troops on a helicopter in the 2004 Iraq war, saying: “I looked down the tube of an RPG that had been fired at us, and it hit the chopper in front of us.” This was disputed by members of the crew. His credibility gone, Williams was replaced by Lester Holt.
In Quebec, we are troubled by the behavior of Yves Francoeur, a Montreal cop who serves as head of the Montreal Police Brotherhood. On the same day as the provincial government took
action to compel police officers to wear their uniforms, rather than camouflage pants and red hats — their way of protesting against imposed pension changes — Francoeur claimed on a radio talk show that criminal charges were blocked in 2012 against two Liberal MNAs, including one still sitting.
He says they were being investigated for alleged influence peddling connected to a real estate
developer linked to the Italian mafia, in return for unspecified legislative changes, and donations to the Quebec Liberal Party.
Francoeur declines to provide any details or evidence, but we ask, when did he first learn about this “blocked” investigation? Why did he wait to make the information public, rather than contact investigators? Is this setting an example for police union members?
It was somewhat reassuring to hear Quebec chief crown prosecutor, Annick Murphy’s response,
that “no prosecutor would ever accept to take a decision out of complacency or servility.”
Francoeur has not come forward with the information he claims to know, so Murphy has asked for a police investigation. Let the chips fall where they may, but this cloud of suspicion launched
by Francoeur is undermining credibility in our justice system.
The cumulative effect of these developments is sapping confidence in our administrations — we demand more from those we elect and pay to administer our amazing country!