One of my favourite subjects of late has been the corruption of the Conservative Party of Canada. Of course, the actual criminal behaviour, which has had them in hot water for months is limited to a few members, but I would argue by complicity, the corruption is widespread and deap-seated.
In the last week of Parliament, instead of doing the right thing as former Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber did in denouncing the Tories’ lack of commitment to transparency, most MPs continued to toe the party line demonstrating not only corruption in the traditional sense, but a corruption of logic.
It’s been a while since I’ve visited logical fallacies so let’s take a quick look at the twisted meanderings of Conservative illogic from the last couple of weeks.
First, there is the red herring fallacy. Unable to satisfactorily address the allegations of improperly claimed expenses and breach of the public trust, Tory MPs and Senators started throwing up red herrings in an attempt to deflect attention.
This is the schoolyard equivalent of “oh yeah, well, Suzy spit in my hair.”
In doing so, they set up a second logical fallacy, that of the unequal comparison.
Was NDP leader Tom Mulcair wrong to allegedly blow through stop signs on the Hill? Yes, but is that the moral and legal equivalent of stealing $90,000 from taxpayers then attempting to cover it up with a “gift” from a wealthy benefactor, which is in itself an illegal act.
Let’s say, just for one second, that they are equal. By making the comparison, aren’t you basically saying, “yes, we did wrong, but they did too so it’s a wash.”
We all know how well that works in our personal lives.
“Oh yeah, well I may have left the toilet seat up, but you always leave the lid off the toothpaste.”
The other red herring and subsequent unequal comparison was that of Justin Trudeau’s speaking fees. To my mind, this one is even worse, because while running a stop sign is, in fact, a legal violation, albeit a minor one, Trudeau did absolutely nothing wrong.
MPs routinely get paid for speaking engagements. Trudeau, in fact, cleared them with the ethics commissioner beforehand. And it was only after the fact that one of the organizations, one tied to the Conservative Party no less, complained and requested their money back.
Unfortunately, this tactic worked to a certain extent. While most people and media outlets quickly dismissed the allegations that Trudeau actually did anything wrong, it did get them talking about whether he was guilty of poor judgement.
Trudeau’s “judgement” has been a catchword for the Tories from even before he was elected leader.
Trudeau himself added fuel to that fire by offering to pay the money back. In my opinion, that is the only instance in this whole affair in which the newly-minted leader of the Liberals exercised poor judgement.
It gave Prime Minister Harper his straw man and his sound bite. By misrepresenting the nature of Trudeau’s actions, they were able to put together the catchy phrase: “I give money to charity, not take money from charity,” a refrain which has been repeated over and over by Conservatives.
It’s all quite childish when you break it down, something we’ve become quite used to in Canadian politics, but something we should not tolerate going forward.
The Conservatives have proven time and again they’re no less corrupt, no more accountable, no more competent and no more responsible than the old Liberals. They need to go.
And if the next government, whether it is NDP or Liberal or otherwise can’t get its act together, it will need to go as well, and so on until we elect a someone willing to buck the status quo and entrench some accountability into Parliament.