Toronto Sun

March 31, 2001

What did we do to deserve this?

By HARTLEY STEWARD -- Toronto Sun

You get the kind of government you deserve.

I used to like that phrase. I think I may even have used it on one or two occasions in the past. Until now, I believed it.

Not any more. No one deserves the kind of government we have been getting lately in Ottawa.

I don't care if little more than half the eligible voters braved the elements to cast a ballot. So what if most of us were so ill-informed that we mistook Jean Chretien and his Liberal party for people of quality?

It doesn't matter that we had a pretty good alternative in Preston Manning right under our noses and didn't notice. We still deserve something better than the humiliating show that is daily unfolding in Parliament.

Some notes, then, on one of the most embarrassing weeks in Parliament in living memory.

* * *

What are we to make of that curious, hand-written bill of sale produced earlier this week by Jean Chretien's people?

Anyone who has been involved in even the smallest real estate deal and has sat by the hour signing document after document, most of them unread, in quadruplicate, knows that nothing that emanates from a law office is hand-written.

Too, nothing coming from a law office is that short and to the point. We have here a document purporting to detail an agreement between two parties for the sale of $300,000 worth of shares in a golf course which takes less than 50 words.

A sort of mini postscript, below the signature, outlines the payment terms in 21 words. Remember, this is a deal between one of Ontario's biggest real estate movers and shakers and a famous politician, who, even if he occasionally denies it, is also a solicitor.

Man, I know lawyers who could make an entire career of drafting documents to cover such an arrangement. And they would bill enough to put all their kids through university.

If anything was hand-written it would be the notes on which the official bill of sale was based and they would take at least a dozen pages of legal-sized paper.

Come on, guys.

* * *

I'm assuming that if the prime minister wasn't so busy trying to save his own political neck, he would have dusted his minister of Multiculturalism, Hedy Fry, by now.

Or perhaps he's keeping her around in hopes she'll draw some of the unfriendly fire being directed at him.

Fry is the cabinet minister who announced in the House of Commons that, as she was speaking, they were burning crosses, Ku Klux Klan style, on the front lawns in Prince George, B.C.

Slandering various parts of the country with unfounded claims of rampant racism has been a hallmark of the minister's political career. One wag at the National Post offered in one of the paper's editorials that she might be inflicted with some sort of anti-racist Tourette's syndrome.

It seems Fry simply makes these slanders up. This one, hard to believe, was part of a prepared statement read in the House. You have to be slower than the average bear to believe you could fabricate such a tale and not raise questions which would expose you. You have to be vicious to even think of it.

Imagine. Fry is still sitting on the government front benches, chuckling with her fellow Liberals. She is still raking in a big salary, which we are paying. She is still being driven around in a chauffeured car. Wow. Are you as embarrassed as I am?

* * *

Surely Canada is one of the great bigotry free zones in the world. Our history of religious tolerance may not be perfect, but it's better than most. Today, we are a haven for peoples who have been persecuted in their own countries for their religious beliefs.

Why in heaven's name are our politicians making religion an issue?

During the last election campaign, the Liberals put the wacky Hedy Fry in charge of telling us that Stockwell Day's religious beliefs would subvert the country. Alliance MP Deborah Grey recently reminded the House of some of Fry's more ridiculous assertions regarding the evils of Christianity.

Sheila Copps, who was once the deputy prime minister of Canada, wanted to know what Grey, who is a Christian, might know about Christianity.

This is not behaviour which reflects the generosity of Canadians. It's sort of scary, isn't it?

Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.