In a world where cyberspace leaves few rocks under which to hide, one would think people in powerful positions involving public trust would think twice about lying.
Yet they persist.
South of our border, the United States has had its share of historical presidential whoppers, of course. Richard Nixon disavowing any knowledge of the Watergate break-in, and Bill Clinton’s straight-face denial that “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”
Turns out those Oval Office non-relations happened at least nine times, but who’s counting?
Now, with the U.S. presidential election less than three months away, we are watching two candidates — Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump — lying through their teeth at almost every turn with virtual impunity.
The electorate simply shrugs, inured to the deceit.
More recently in Canada, we watched as federal Health Minister Jane Philpott tried to magically turn a limousine into a sedan to dodge her signature on a June question tabled in the House of Commons specifically on limousine rentals.
Her office swore up and down their boss had rented not a single limo, and then up pops last week’s controversy over Philpott’s pricey multi-rentals from a Toronto limo service whose owner “loves”— his word — the Liberal Party and who worked on Philpott’s campaign.
Their spin now? It wasn’t a real limousine, per se, in which Philpott was being chauffeured, but instead it was a luxury sedan, a Lexus ES 300.
It would be laughable if it wasn’t so endemic.
We now have a prime minister in Justin Trudeau who achieved victory partially because he swore to run a deficit of no more than $10 billion in order to create jobs.
The truth, however, is that Canada is projected now to have a $150-billion deficit by the end of Trudeau’s first term, all while jobs are disappearing by the tens of thousands.
Lie? Or gross miscalculation?
This is the same Justin Trudeau, by the way, who said during the campaign that the Harperites’ Bill C-42 “would allow handguns and assault rifles to be freely transported — even parked outside a Canadian Tire or a local hockey arena.”
An outright lie.
In Ontario, pockets of which are now more rust belt than leather-bound, they had a Liberal premier in Dalton McGuinty who Postmedia cartoonist Sue Dewar unfailingly drew as Pinocchio, the ever-growing nose reflecting the lies he told.
No one cried foul.
McGuinty’s first lie, of course, was to promise “no new taxes,” and then to immediately ramp up tax after tax and political lie after political lie.
His punishment, inexplicably, was to retire unscathed, and have Kathleen Wynne not only become the next premier but become premier with an overwhelming majority.
For those of us who believe in honesty, this only went to punctuate the depth of our political morass.
We are now rewarding the dishonest.
There will be progressives, of course, who will insist the government of Stephen Harper was rife with liars, but there is no evidence that points to any magnitude.
They will insist, for example, that the Duffy trial exposed the fact that Harper knew about the $90,000 personal cheque cut to pay Duffy’s questionable expenses by his then chief-of-staff Nigel Wright — despite no evidence to nail it down.
This will not stop them, however, from believing it was true, which means they have decided, instead, to believe the lie rather than the truth.
May the gods help us all.
Toronto Sun by Mark Bonokowski
Aug 24th 2016