Trevor Wicks’ recent letter points precisely to the current situation. The ‘me-first-ism’ leading to almost complete collapse of the Mulroney Conservatives; the Liberal shenanigans exposed by the Gomery Inquiry; and now the squirming refusal of the prime minister to answer questions about that $90,000 cheque; all point to a long-running deterioration of parliamentary ethics.
However, while applauding Wicks’ desire to involve the best and most experienced individuals to cooperate and advise government, I fear his National Parliamentary Coalition would inevitably be infiltrated and overwhelmed by the same big financial and business lobbies that now dominate the party system.
How could they be kept out? Their personal and corporate party donations already command government compliance, as the un-mandated free trade deals, the enormous tax-payer-funded bank bail-outs, and the “privatize everything” movements testify. Now, the prime minister’s stated intention is to totally eliminate all public funding of parties, enabling wealthy donours to simply buy the policies they want. It is very clear which way the wind is blowing.
The real weakness of parliament and legislatures lies in the calibre of the elected MPs and MLAs. If status, pay and pensions are their chief motivation, the incipient fascism now visible will become locked-in. Caucus control is already at a dangerous level and the crying need is for a parliament which thinks, considers and expresses a great deal more bloody-minded outspoken independence than we see today.
In the long run, it is the elected MPs who must do the job they are elected to do and not just be tame ‘yes’ men.