AWAKENING NEWS STAFF EDITORIAL
As unsubstantiated “sexual misconduct” allegations against elected, administrative and party officials in Canada and the U.S. keep raining down, the Awakening News editors have been assessing the situation and have posed the following question pertaining mainly to Canada:
- Is there a “political fitness manual” somewhere that the media and party leaders use behind closed doors to decide who is fit for public service and who isn’t?
Unless and until we hear otherwise, we’ll have to assume that such a manual does indeed exist in some form.
And here we thought that the open democratic process, including the time-honored concept of innocent until proven guilty, is supposed to be the driving force of society. Evidently, we were mistaken.
Most recently, those who’ve been deemed “unfit” to hold a political post include Michael Balagus in Manitoba, who NDP Leader Andrea Horvath put on “forced leave,” according to the Feb. 9 Toronto Star.
Balagus, who had been her loyal chief of staff, has simply been accused of allegedly not taking a female accuser’s complaints seriously—before he even worked for Horvath—going back to when he worked for two Manitoba premiers. The twist in this rather vague story is that, unlike the spate of other office-holders lately accused of sexual misconduct, Mr. Balagus is not accused of sexual misconduct himself.
Instead, Balagus merely was too careless, some allege, about communicating complaints from an accuser against longtime cabinet minister Stan Struthers, amid allegations that, according to Canadian mainstream media, Struthers groped and fondled as many as seven women in recent years.
“When the number of accusers stood at five, two more women — a former NDP staffer and Dauphin radio reporter — have come forward alleging former cabinet minister Stan Struthers inappropriately touched and tickled them,” the CBC reported Feb. 8, under the general heading “CBC Investigates.” The article lacked balance and basically deemed Struthers guilty while asking no hard questions of his accusers. He reportedly apologized publicly.
MEANWHILE, IN AMERICA
In the U.S., one of the latest bombshells is that top Trump aide Rob Porter, credited with helping to draft President Trump’s first State of the Union address Jan. 30, resigned after his two ex-wives alleged to the media that Porter, several years ago, had physically abused them.
Yet, although Porter said that this represents a “smear campaign” against him, he still resigned.
MPP BROWN’S PETITION
And it’s widely known that Canadian MPP Patrick Brown, under intense media and party pressure, left (or was pushed out of) his leadership post in the Progressive Conservative Party amid unsubstantiated allegations of sexual misconduct from anonymous women—going back more than 10 years.
The latest is that Brown’s supporters have posted a petition online. As of Feb. 11, the website had generated 12,236 signatures. The statement on the petition’s home page, entitled Justice for Patrick Brown, says, in part:
Nowadays, a woman can accuse a man of pretty much anything and without evidence. He is then automatically presumed guilty as charged by society—just like the case of Patrick Brown and the sexual misconduct allegations.
What happened to Patrick Brown is wrong . . . . [He] had his entire career and life destroyed in a couple of hours because of two anonymous sexual misconduct accusers who went to the media instead of the police . . . ten years after the alleged incidents but only five months before elections [in June 2018] and decided to remain anonymous . . .
He was convicted without trial.
For the record, the Awakening News is neutral in such matters—unlike the orthodox press which uncritically believes the accusers in most cases. Of course, sexual allegations should be reported and probed through proper channels (police, courts) and the accused perpetrators should be tried in a court of law, with the presumption of innocence upheld.
That’s the only way to objectively keep society and the democratic process intact, lest the U.S. as well as Canada descend into chaos.
But, to be sure, the police and courts can be highly selective about administering justice. The powerful are rarely convicted while the downtrodden appear in those shoddy “police blotter” publications that seek the public’s help in sighting assorted druggies, child-support evaders, etc.
STEP BACK, CONSIDER THE BIG PICTURE
Notice that these lady accusers in most instances took particularly long periods of time to “break their silence,” as we often hear. This is par for the course in Canada where taking action to “resolve” various issues, beyond sensationalised sexual matters, is often postponed for so long that decades and generations pass before the “injustices” are resurrected.
Indeed, as a result of this abandonment of applying justice promptly (and fairly), the democratic process itself has been torn down. Figuratively speaking, it seems like democracy is now bound and gagged in a warehouse somewhere, alongside the statue of Lt. Gen. Edward Cornwallis that once stood in Halifax but was literally torn down Jan. 31 and warehoused at a municipal storage depot at the behest of indigenous people in Nova Scotia.
Those Mi’kmaq descendants protested the statue, first erected in 1931, over Canada’s glacially slow justice system, at least in the sense that they’re upset that Cornwallis was honored even though he apparently issued a bounty on the scalps of Mi’kmaq people in 1749 in response to a tribal raid on a sawmill in what would become Dartmouth.
But, as the case of the Cornwallis statue shows, indigenous peoples, while their concerns certainly should be heard, have focused on punishing the past—rather than properly seeking justice, in the here and now, over valid current issues.
Case in point: In a number of Canada’s casinos, indigenous workers, along with their non-indigenous counterparts, could unify and compare notes about working in sweatshop-like conditions in an unsafe and/or hostile working environment that violates Ministry of Labour regulations. (See more on that issue via this link).
Looking at the big picture, it’s funny that officeholders can be deemed unfit for public service due to often vague sexual allegations. But the inaction of public officials, in the following categories, is not seen as a reason to deem these officials unfit for office:
- MONEY SYSTEM: Public officials allowing the debt-based monetary system to grow for the last 43 years, instead of reinstalling the Canadian monetary system that operated between 1938 and 1975 and required the Bank of Canada to issue virtually zero-interest credit that helped give Canada its health-care system and trans-national highways.
- GROUNDWATER: Public officials allowing various other liabilities and potential problems to grow, including the heavy mining of Canadian aquifers by large water-bottling companies like Nestle, that are allowed to slurp groundwater for less than four dollars per million liters. This amounts to licensing corporations to effectively privatize public water and place such water supplies under heavy stress and threaten the quantity, quality and price / availability of water for future generations. As water supplies dwindle (absent sound data on the status of our aquifers) bank credit for farmers, especially smaller farmers, could dry up.
- CASINOS: Public officials never responding to an early-2015 letter (whose third birthday is Feb. 25) from then-interim PC Party Leader Jim Wilson to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, letting her know about numerous Labour violations and violations of free speech at Casino Rama. Neither Wynne nor any other Canadian politician responded to this letter.
- Click on this link to read the brief Wilson letter: AWAK MPP Wilson letter
And don’t forget the November 2016 data breach at Casino Rama. No one in authority following up on the serious hacking of 12 years’ worth of payroll information on current and former Casino Rama workers. Social Insurance numbers and confidential employee information also was hacked, with the data stemming from the years 2004 to 2016. Since early November of 2016, when the hack happened, there still has been no word on who did it, if there will be arrests, and exactly what financial damages may have been incurred by those whose data was breached.
This overall situation takes us back to an Awakening front-page article in a print edition entitled “The Time Machine.” That’s a way of describing how society’s most serious problems—especially those involving the most powerful and wealthy people and institutions—are swept under the rug for decades—or even generations.
Out of sight and out of mind, the problems become unresolved liabilities that grow to gargantuan size—thanks largely to apparent enablers in the political-judicial-corporate-media system. Rarely is a major problem involving entrenched political, corporate and even religious institutions dealt with in the present (e.g., the 20th Century sexual abuse and murder of indigenous peoples in Canada’s residential boarding schools). Rather than the perpetrators being busted at, or reasonably near, the time of the crime, the issue at hand is cast into this time machine.
As a result, truth and reconciliation panels are formed while future generations must confront and pay for the sins of the past, even as the memories of the people who were most affected fade, or those people pass away. Meanwhile, those living in the present, sensing that today’s problems will be put off and won’t be justly and effectively resolved, look to the past and even tear down statues in their frustration, apparently searching for a sense of justice that is denied.
So, let’s get this straight. You can be declared unfit for public office without trial if hanky-panky has been alleged. But you’re deemed OK to serve in public office if you’ve allowed innumerable other problems and liabilities to fester to the point of no return.