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CANADA’S PHONY PRINCE: JUSTIN TRUDEAU’S WORLD OF HYPOCRISY, LYING, SECRECY AND BETRAYAL

 

Secrecy, being an instrument of conspiracy, ought never to be the system of a regular government. – Jeremy Bentham

Secrecy, once accepted, becomes an addiction. – Edward Teller

Secrecy is the freedom tyrants dream of. – Bill Moyers

Frank A. Pelaschuk

Every once in a while we are reminded that the world of politics often resembles that of fractured fairy tales whereby, for a time, the Handsome Prince and/or the Beautiful Princess appear to be exactly what they offer in the way of promises and hope. Eventually, however, the real world obtrudes and the Handsome Prince and/or Beautiful Princess, so widely loved and highly praised, all too often and with unseemly haste succumb to the lavish blandishments perhaps convinced they are deserving and untouchable and behave in ways truer to their nature and character the public persona peeled away. Now there will be among the adoring public some who have never been swayed by the Handsome Prince and/or Beautiful Princess and there will be others who, over time, may notice a change and see behind the facade what they may have suspected and feared all along: ugly, warty toads. Much of the public may not notice nor even care but those that do may well be repelled by the similar and yet unique features exposed revealing even uglier natures and characters those of Deceit, Venality, Pride, Hypocrisy, Avarice, and Gluttony and all oozing, simply oozing, the stench of corruption.

Those are the real faces of Justin Trudeau and his savage little gang. Oh, the Handsome Prince is still handsome – superficially. Beyond the husk, rot has firmly taken root.

AND THEIR RIGHT HAND IS FULL OF BRIBES

How much does it take to buy a politician? There are those who will say that a politician cannot be bought for $250 or $750 or even $1500. I am not of that crowd. Venality is not new and it has no limit. But when politicians so shamelessly grant private access for cash from eager “donors” with thousands in their fists, even cash from foreign interests, as Christy Clark, premier of BC, oops, now ex-premier, has over the years or when a drug company sponsors a BC Liberal convention or when her Liberal party tops up her premier’s salary with a bonus estimated at over $277K from 2011 to April 2016 for her fundraising efforts, you know she’s doing something the party and Big Business likes and that should be a matter of serious concern for taxpayers. Long ago when questions were raised concerning her fundraising methods, her response was basically this: I can’t be bought. Well, we have to take her at her word, don’t we?

And then there are the excesses of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in that area as well. I have spoken more than once on these issues: Jody Wilson-Raybould’s clear conflict of issue when she, as justice minister, attends a fundraiser sponsored by a prestigious law firm; finance minister Bill Morneau’s forays into fundraising with developers in the east coast; and an event in Toronto organized by Barry Sherman, the chairman of Apotex, a generic drug manufacturer and lobbyist of the government, the same company that provided the sponsorship for the BC Liberal convention of 2016. Sherman withdrew from the event after news became public but Apotex is still a lobbyist to the Trudeau government.

We know whom, sometimes we know who is buying, but can we really claim with certainty to know what is being bought?

Well, influence maybe?

Oh, no, the parties involved will all aver, fingers crossed behind their backs. We can’t be bought. We will be told, and we have been, that those lobbying governments are not allowed to approach MPs regarding business pending interests. Not allowed. Doesn’t happen. We are to take them at their word. Well, sure, why not… if you can’t trust a Liberal who can you trust? Sponsorgate? That was just an unfortunate aberration, can’t, won’t, happen again. Right.

And while it is true all parties fundraise, it is unseemly they do so furtively, in private homes, especially when those in attendance are government cabinet ministers and multi-millionaire even billionaire tycoons representing corporations lobbying governments. Is it really as innocent as the Liberals and Conservatives would have us believe?

Of the many quiet $1500 a plate fundraisers attended by Trudeau, at least 18 of an estimated 100 plus for the Liberals, there was one event in particular that drew interests because of its secrecy and the many Chinese millionaires in attendance some of whom were seeking to do business with the Canadian government. Coincidentally (nudge, nudge), a Chinese businessman in attendance and his business partner donated $1 million to the Pierre Eliot Trudeau Foundation and the University of Montreal Law Faculty after that event. Too, a month later, another coincidence: Wealth One Bank, founded by one of the attendees was granted federal approval to start operations in Canada. While Trudeau originally claimed that no business was ever discussed at these fundraisers, he later recanted admitting to being lobbied and that he and his staff directed the lobbyists to go through the proper channels. If that was the case, why lie in the first place? Well, whatever the reason, Trudeau revealed he could lie with the best of them. But we suspected that anyway, didn’t we? His staffers also claimed that Trudeau did not always know who were attending these events because he would often just “happen” to drop by at these private house gatherings. Again that stretches credulity. Trudeau’s security would certainly not allow him to attend any affair without knowing who were in attendance.

It is not the fundraising that concerns me as much as the cost of attending and, even of more concern, the secrecy surrounding them. How can anyone believe there are no issues of concern when the parties involved behave in secrecy as if they were doing something wrong? Trudeau, Morneau, Jody Wilson-Raybould and the Liberal party have broken Trudeau’s own mandate regarding openness, transparency, appearances of conflict. And it began within months of taking office.

Following months of denying anything untoward regarding these private fundraisers, Trudeau announced that future events would be open and costs to attend would range from $250 to $1500. This move is clearly a move to make it easier for the average Joe or Jane working at Tim Horton’s to attend such events. Well, I provides a mild chuckle. Too, the events would be open to journalists. Well that was a joke. In a recent event held in Ottawa in appreciation of Liberal donors ($1500 a year and $750 for those under 35), journalists were kept in a pen and not allowed to mingle or ask questions other than when guests registered and entered the event. Shades of Stephen Harper! After the speeches, reporters were told to leave. Well, another empty promise, surprise, surprise. But, of course, there would be nothing to report because, as we know, nothing is ever traded in exchange for cash.

Well, when it comes to venality, the Harper gang, Christie Clark and the Liberal gang are not unique. The rot has even tainted city hall as evidenced by reports of Calgary’s mayor, Naheed Nenshi, the first Muslim mayor of a major North American city once voted the best mayor in the world, has his own fundraiser events but at $2000 a plate with strong encouragement to throw in another $3000. That’s a lot of pork. Makes Trudeau look like a piker.

So, yes, we know who’s being wooed, sometimes who is buying but seldom, until far too late, the exchange of any.

But how is it possible that they can and do get away with it and that they do so so openly and shamelessly?

Well, perhaps the political pundits who appear everywhere on the media circuit and write for the press share no small measure of the blame. I have heard too many such luminaries opine that it’s ridiculous to believe that a politician can be bought for $1500 a plate. Really? I would like to ask these worthies what is the price that does buy favour? What does it take to further corrupt a person ripe for corruption? Fill a room with folks wanting the same thing from the government at $1500 a head, say twenty widget salesmen. Well that’s $30,000. And multiply that by the number of fundraisers Trudeau attended last year, about 18 according to some sources. If so, that’s $480,000. Is that enough to buy favour? Now I suspect there are some in this world who cannot be bought at any price. I don’t believe Trudeau or any member of his gang is numbered among them. It is disingenuous, or extremely dangerously naïve, to suggest politician can’t be bought for $1500. One needs only harken back to Bev Oda, a member of Harper’s cabinet, forced to resign for padding her expense tab with a $16 glass of orange juice to be reminded how little it takes to ensnare those easily baited. If a politician will cheat on the small he will certainly cheat on the big and we have experienced questionable behaviour from some of Trudeau’s own ministers and one glaring example from the phony Prince himself. There was health minister Jane Philpott who repaid questionable expenses several times; there was minister of environment and climate change, Catherine McKenna, who hired her own photographer on the public dime while attending a climate conference in Paris already teeming with media photographers. And, of course, there was minister of international trade, Chrystia Freeland, who, instead of returning home on the government plane waiting for her when on a Philippine business trip for the government, made a detour on a commercial plane to appear on a TV talk show in California. To legitimize the cost of the diversion, which cost Canadians over $17K, Freeland apparently met with some Californian dignitaries. And Trudeau? Well, over the Christmas holidays he and close friends vacationed with a long time family friend, the Aga Khan, even accepting a free helicopter ride from the Bahaman mainland to the Aga Khan’s private island. Not only was that a violation of rules governing the acceptance of gifts, it also violates conflict of interest guidelines. Since 2004, Canada has donated $310 million to the Aga Khan foundation with Trudeau pledging another $55 million over the next five years.

Trudeau sees no problem with this or with his fundraising endeavours. Really? And he saw nothing wrong with his justice minister attending a fundraiser sponsored by lawyers. How about you? Do you accept, as Trudeau has, Jody Wilson-Raybould’s explanation that she had attended as a mere MP and not as justice minister? Really?

MERCY’S HUMAN HEART?

Such behaviour, such lowered standards should make one cringe. Is there no shame?

This prime minister and his team are so glib and free and easy. They squeeze truth, acts and ideas that really matter to shapes unrecognizable and then toss them aside as the useless things the have become.

As when he vowed to make Human Rights a priority only to sign of on the light-armoured vehicle trade deal with one of the world’s most egregious Human Rights abuser offering all kinds of justifications for doing so none of them holding water. The previous Harper government had tied his hands. It was already a done deal. Canada would look untrustworthy if it broke the deal. There was no evidence Saudi Arabia would use the LAVs against his own people. He, or his ministers speaking on his behalf, lied on all counts. In going through with the deal, Trudeau broke Canada’s own guidelines governing international arms trading with Human Rights abusers and even breaches UN sanctions against such deals. Human Rights a priority? That’s to laugh. Even now Trudeau is actively seeking to expand trade with China another outrageous Human Rights abuser. But MONEY and BIG DEALS coupled with CANADIAN JOBS talk just as loudly to Trudeau as they did to Harper. Yet, for all his faults, Harper wasn’t a hypocrite in this: he didn’t concern himself with Human Rights when it came to business and its benefits.

Recently, Trudeau has announced that Canada will extend its role of “advise and assist” in the war against ISIS. Yet, when a Canadian sniper gained fame for breaking the record for the longest kill shot, Trudeau, who weeps at every saccharine opportunity especially when there’s a camera around, called the act “something to be celebrated” without a moment’s reflection on the life that bullet erased, he ignored questions by outgoing NDP leader Thomas Mulcair regarding Canada’s real role in Iraq. Is Trudeau even aware that that kill shot puts a lie to the claim that Canada’s role is that of non-combatant? Trudeau wants it all ways and all of them phony. Harjit Sajjan, minister of defence, refused to respond to questions regarding how many times Canadian troops have engaged in battle. He surely knows. Why don’t we?

There is also the matter of Harper’s C-51 anti-terrorism bill and Access of Information Act (AOI). Trudeau campaigned on the promise to make his government better, open and transparent “by default”. It hasn’t worked out that way.

Changes to C-51, condemned almost universally by academics, jurists and legal scholars, renamed C-59, does provide some fixes but not sufficient to alleviate concerns regarding the most troubling aspects of the bill. While the bill does provide for greater oversight of our security agencies with the formation of a National Security and Intelligence Committee made up of MPs and Senators, the PMO has rendered it toothless because it can shut down investigations and withhold documents at any time and without explanation. C-59 does nothing to assure Canadians regarding the sharing of information with other and/or foreign agencies. As to access to information, well, that, too, appears to be another empty promise. Documents obtained by AOI are still if not even more so heavily redacted. Jeremy J. Nuttall, reporting for The Tyee, (June 23, 2017) points out that the changes actually grant the government increased powers to add restrictions to access. Nutall quotes Sean Holman, journalism professor at Mount Royal University: “Governments will now have the power to unilaterally disregard an access to information request if it is vexatious or meets a number of other conditions” (https://thetyee.ca/News/2017/06/23/Trudeau-Liberals-Let-Down-Open-Government/). Scot Brison, president of the Treasury Board, claims the changes allows the Act to apply to the offices of ministers and will provide “proactive” release of information. The problem with that is the PMO decides what information is made public just as it is the PMO that determines what request is “vexatious”. Considering this regime’s propensity for secrecy, very similar to Harper’s, it is doubtful many requests will not be deemed problematic.

Cash-for-access, reporters penned, information heavily blacked out, files on citizens shared, access to information left to the whim of the PMO, citizens routinely spied on, and public watchdog committees tightly controlled and made toothless, again reliant on the yea or nay of the PMO. This is the reality of Trudeau’s promise of newer, better.

CRY ME A RIVER

Trudeau is a blowhard, a phony with an endless supply of Kleenex to wipe away the affected tears he and his wife can call up in an instant as they, oozing, simply ooooozing, sincerity, tap their right hand fingers over their hearts for whatever and all occasions as needed their brows furrowed and lips quavering and eyes squeezing out tears as many as needed for the occasion but careful, don’t overdo it.

Oh, he is loud with the grand gestures and the symbolic touches, the handkerchief dabbed at the corner of the eye. Look at the make up of his cabinet, both genders equally represented with women placed in major ministries. Oh, yeah, he’s big on feminism but when given opportunity twice as he campaigned and several times since to stand up and call out Trump’s buffoonery and misogyny, he opts to remain mute too cowardly to do the right, decent thing because, as with his stand on Human Rights, it’s all about business, fear of offending the red-headed freak south of us. He’s a feminist as long as he doesn’t have to prove it.

The same seems to be with the committee cobbled together to look into the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls tragedy. We know it’s been formed but as of yet, it appears to be hopelessly mired in – what? What the hell is happening to it? It’s fine as a symbol but, thus far, useless for convincing one that anything is, has been or will be accomplished. How much longer must those surviving family members wait?

Oh, he’s big on the symbolic. On National Aboriginal Day this year, he promised to rename the day National Indigenous Peoples Day and to remove the name of a residential school proponent. He has declared a downtown Ottawa heritage building and former US embassy to be home to Inuit, Métis and First Nations People in the “hope that this historic building will be a powerful symbol of the foundational role of indigenous peoples in Canada’s history” (Kathleen Harris, CBC News, June 21, 2017). On June 19, 2017, Trudeau and his wife, while honouring outstanding Indigenous Leadership at Rideau Hall, wept, no surprise there, to a moving speech by singer/actor/activist Tom Jackson. And when First Nations Activists set up a tepee on Parliament Hill, Trudeau visited them June 30, 2017 and spent 40 minutes with them; for some observers, that was a powerful gesture. But a gesture only. Trudeau offers too many such, most of them empty when what the First Nations community really needs is action, action in ensuring that Indigenous communities have access to fresh, clean, safe drinking water, that they also have affordable housing, that their children be given every opportunity to access education, job training and jobs. Surely Indigenous communities are tired of words and symbols; they need help in concrete ways to end the vicious cycles of poverty, addiction, abuse, and teenage and adult suicides. Trudeau says he understands the impatience of the Indigenous people and that he is impatient himself. Those are words. What has Trudeau and his Liberals really done for the community he panders to with such grand, empty gestures?

SHELL GAME

Among the empty promises was that of putting an end to omnibus bills. Didn’t happen. Instead he offers a budget bill, which includes a bill for the creation of the Infrastructure Bank with limited debate and no consultation two other practices he said would end. He lied, of course, for that is what Trudeau does – with a smile. This so-called infrastructure bank is just another way of privatizing infrastructure work, projects and highways with tolls for who knows how long collected by companies that, seeing a huge windfall in the cash cow they see in government, will suck the country dry with massive cost overages as always happens when profiteers work for the government. When the Senate held back the legislation for a bit, Trudeau, who had booted the Liberal Senators from the Liberal caucus with one of his many grand gestures saying he wanted a truly independent Senate, began to whine that it had no right to impinge on the PMO’s territory when Senators began to flex their muscles. True, the Senate cannot make money bills but it can make amendments. The bill passed after much whinging from Trudeau and gang; the phony wants it both ways, an independent Senate that does what he tells them.

Can Trudeau be trusted with anything? Doubtful. Recently, the Liberals had sought to appoint as language commissioner Madeleine Meilleur. The appointment, announced by heritage minister Mélanie Joly who at one time worked for Meilleur a long serving Liberal MPP and Liberal donor, was made without consultation of opposition members as required and clearly breaches conflict of interest guidelines. No matter, the Trudeau gang pushed back until Meilleur, having had enough, withdrew. It’s a small thing but telling for it shows how willing the Liberals are to reward and protect friends.

One such is John Herhalt. Herhalt, a senior partner of KPMG, Global Chair of Government and Infrastructure and high-ranking Liberal volunteer had been appointed last June to the National Board of the Liberal party as Treasurer that includes Trudeau and his principle secretary and life–long friend, Gerald Butts, at a time when KPMG was under investigation by a Liberal dominated parliamentary committee over its role in the offshore investment scam involving shell companies set up in the Isle of Man. Herhalt said he had retired from KPMG in 2013 but in June of 2016 he was working contracts for KPMG and using a KPMG email address. The committee shut down the testimony of independent witnesses critical of KPMG (remember, this was a Liberal-dominated committee). Only after they promised not to bring KPMG into their testimony, were the witnesses allowed to testify which seems a ludicrous exercise since it was KPMG that was being investigated. Was Herhalt’s appointment a breach of ethics as well as a breach of conflict of interest regulations? You bet it was. For those interested, wishing to know more, I highly recommend CBC’s Fifth Estate’s program regarding off-shore tax avoidance scams and the role played by KPMG (http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/episodes/2016-2017/kpmg-and-tax-havens-for-the-rich-the-untouchables).

While Trudeau has proven himself a toad of ugly aspects in so many ways, his behaviour in handling electoral reform must surely be among his most offensive. It was he who made a great show of declaring 2015 the last first-past-the-post election. We know how that worked. In every aspect of handling that matter, Trudeau proved himself deceitful. He sought originally to rig the committee to weigh the vote in favour of the Liberals. When that failed, he loudly mused that Canadians did not see electoral reform as a priority. By then, it was clear that the exercise would fail because the committee was not about to recommend Trudeau’s preferred choice, that of the ranked ballot voting system. Trudeau replaced rookie democratic minister Maryam Monself who had denounced the work of the reform committee as careless and hasty with another young rookie MP, Karina Gould. It was left to Gould to declare electoral reform, which was Trudeau’s baby from the first, dead as a doornail. Trudeau didn’t even have the guts to kill the project to which he had given birth. Shortly after that, home from the holidays and his free helicopter ride, he did a cross-country coffee tour talking to Canadians in hope of refurbishing his image. During one of those events he not only bragged about feeling good on turning his back on reform, he claimed that the preferred choice suggested by the committee invited the election of terrorists and could lead to a terrorist lead government. During a June 27, 2017 press conference, he repeated that canard saying PR would be bad for Canada. “I think creating fragmentation amongst political parties, as opposed to having larger political parties that include Canada’s diversity within them, would weaken our country” (Brian Platt, Ottawa Citizen, June 28, 2017). Absolute rubbish. A form of proportional representation is used, and very effectively, by most of the Western democracies. He continued, “Unfortunately, it became very clear that we had a preference to give people a ranked ballot… We thought that was the right, concrete way forward. Nobody else agreed. The NDP were anchored in proportional representation as being the only way forward” He went on to say the Conservatives wanted to keep the “status quo”. That was revisionism worthy of the Conservatives under Harper: blame the NDP and Conservatives. He then went on to claim that his preference for ranked ballot was well known. When he made his pitch for electoral reform, he had not declared his preference at the time. In fact, while it was true that in 2013 and 2014 he may have spoken in support of that system, he did not do so at any time while campaigning that I can recall. His was an act of deceit by omission. Anyone familiar with the system of ranked balloting would know it tends to favour those in the centre. In other words, it is Trudeau and the Conservatives who would maintain the status quo.

Shallow, prone to big gestures and fine symbols, Trudeau is everything he sought to convince voters he was not. Nothing of real moral substance differentiates him or his gang from the Stephen Harper gang voters repudiated. Trudeau is a half person who will be exactly what you want him to be as long as it oozes, simply oozes sincerity and charm and is saccharine enough to allow for tears to be called up in an instant. There is the other half, of course, the truer Trudeau, the hard-edged, cynical, scheming, dishonest, deceitful, lying Trudeau that is shameless in its hypocrisy and smarmy manipulative guile. He is neither a truthful nor a courageous man. He is a man of no moral resolution or conviction but, rather, more attuned to the interests of Big Business than to the feminism he espouses but will not defend or to the Human Rights he has made a priority and yet upon which he has turned his back.

As Canada celebrates its 150th birthday, Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau will have taken centre stage, where else, hosting the midday festivities. Just remember this: 70% of the $2 million in trinkets and gewgaws Canada spent to celebrate the day, the baseball caps, flags, pins etc. that will be handed out, were manufactured outside of Canada. That about sums up Trudeau: he is loud promises and grand symbols. Just another chintzy politico.

**

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin

 

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POLITICIANS, PROLES, AND POPULISM: HYPOCRISY AND DEGENERACY AT THE POLLS

It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit. – Noël Coward

He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it. – George Orwell

Frank Pelaschuk

I’ve never met a hypocrite who wasn’t a liar but I have met liars who were not hypocrites. What does it take to be a politician? Some may say it requires a tough hide, a willingness to serve, a belief that you have something to offer, perhaps some kind of “vision”; youth and good looks will certainly help for both offer the promise of something “fresh”, “new”. All of these may be true. Unfortunately, too many of our politicians are less interested in serving than in helping themselves. I am not simply talking about self-enrichment in the way of padded expense accounts though we have seen plenty of that but rather of serving special interests in the hopes that rewards will be forthcoming once out of office. We have seen plenty of that, as well, ex-politicians walking into corporate boardrooms willing to trade on the knowledge and contacts gleaned. Too, as well as possessing the zealot’s ambition and an almost unrealistic and all too often undeserved self-regard for oneself, it is likely many of them hold a deep level of contempt for voters. A newcomer, particularly the naïf who really does believe that politics is about serving others, about working towards a better society, is not likely to survive unless quickly proving himself flexible embracing the two, make that three, most important tools of politics, especially if one is not overly endowed with beauty, glibness, and a spouse of equal measure: shamelessness, the ability to lie with facility and the ability to seamlessly play the role of hypocrite (one may often find it necessary to quickly switch positions mid sentence). It is these three qualities that will allow him to survive and provide plenty of justification for the contempt he holds for voters: they will not notice or, if they do, care. Youth and looks may help extend one’s term but they will not be enough for long-term survival in the filthy world of politics; one must be adept and willing and able to change one’s position, course and beliefs immediately if not sooner and to revise one’s narrative without any hint of blush. If may be better not to believe in anything other than the belief one should have another drink; neither belief nor honesty is requisite. A moral compass combined with a pesky conscience is political death and will only prove a hindrance at best with few positive benefits except a reputation for being a “stand up” individual in some circles and a “sucker” in others. When ethics is raised, which should be rarely if ever, it should only be in reference to the failings of others and seldom if ever to elevate oneself as morally superior unless confident of one’s own superiority; in that event, strike fast, hard and without mercy. Destroy the opposition even if in bed with them; he, she or they are the enemy, but also be aware: hypocrisy is a two-edged sword which, when skilfully exposed, can redound to haunt one. Chances are, however, the accomplished politician can tread the landmines without fear especially if owed a lot of favours: he can lie, curry favour, pander to the worst in us and still be assured of re-election thus offering clear demonstration that contempt for the public, especially the voting public, is justified: voters are that stupid.

WHAT IS MY POSITION TODAY?

When Rona Ambrose as Conservative interim leader announced her picks of Denis Lebel for deputy leader and Andrew Scheer for Opposition House leader, she said, “Denis and Andrew bring not only a wealth of intelligence and parliamentary experience, but they bring the right tone, in helping build a strong, vigorous and respectful Opposition” (CBC News Nov. 18, 2015). Now that sounds good from a shining light in the Harper cabinet which over the years relentlessly demonstrated its contempt for strong, vigorous and respectful opposition invoking closure and ramming through legislation with the might of their majority. With little effort and no embarrassment, Ambrose thus demonstrated the utility of another useful tool: a faulty and selective memory.

For those who may not recall, Andrew Scheer spent four years as Speaker of the House one of whose roles is to have the government answer questions as well as maintaining order and decorum. In both areas, he failed miserably proving himself far too often partisan, weak, incompetent. During his tenure, the House often offered viewers of Question Period a spectacle of fractious, raucous, and mean-spirited behaviour with members of the government publicly lying in the House, performing charades of events that later proved to be fabricated (remember Brad Butt?), and allowed to go unchallenged histrionic displays of crude evasions by various Conservative members most notably Paul Calandra. Government members of Harper’s regime almost never answered questions posed to them and when they did respond it was with non-answers, non-sequiturs, evasions and/or outright lies none of which were addressed by Scheer. But, if Scheer was a failure in keeping decorum, he was no failure when it came to partisanship. In May of 2013, Marc Mayrand, Canada’s chief electoral officer, sent Andrew Scheer the Speaker letters regarding the failures of Shelly Glover and James Bezan to provide completed and corrected campaign claims for the 2011 election. Wrote Mayrand, “The (Canada Elections) Act provides that an elected candidate who fails to provide documents required…may not continue to sit or vote as a member until the corrections have been made.” What did Scheer do? He sat on the letters for two weeks without informing Parliament, as he was required to do. Meanwhile, Glover was promoted, having by now submitted the corrected papers after, like Bezan, refusing to do so. Scheer thwarted elections Canada and, in doing so, abused his office with his show of support for two members who broke election rules and thumbed their noses at the public. To add to the insult, the public has enjoyed, if that is the word, the spectacle of watching this former Speaker of the House, who should know better, wearing a perpetually smarmy smirk heckling other members of the governing party as if he were some immature punk. This is what Ambrose means by “respectful opposition”?

Were it not so serious, it would be fun watching the Conservatives demanding of the Liberals what they themselves refused to offer and watching the Liberals denying what they themselves demanded of the Conservatives. At times, it’s almost difficult to recall which party has formed government until one recalls that, unlike Harper, this prime minister and his wife have never met a camera they didn’t like or let pass any opportunity that allowed them to strut their stuff especially with cameras clicking away as at the Press Gallery Dinner with the beautifully attired Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau performing song and the “two-legged sage” yoga pose as a nod to her husband’s “peacock” pose earlier this year. The media laps it up but who can blame them after the years of being unloved, ignored and, when noticed, noticed only as “media lickspittles”.

Now I can understand voters going for something new. Let’s face it, anything other than the Harper gang just had to be better. And it is, if only marginally. Unfortunately, voters didn’t go for change, they didn’t go for new and they certainly didn’t go for substance. Instead, they opted for the status quo with glamour. True, they went for something that sounded new, looked new, that made big, bold promises but could never work up the courage for something really new and different convincing themselves that Trudeau was the real deal. He was fresh. He is glib, charming, the man to make the difference. Most wanted to see the end of the Harper reign of error. There were the Liberals, of course, but the leader was young, inexperienced and many remembered his old man some with the fondness of time-dimmed memories and others not so fondly. And there was the NDP riding the Orange wave on the memory of Jack Layton. Unfortunately, something happened; only two parties were really in play.

Of course, it didn’t help that the NDP, leading in the polls and wanting so desperately to win, had lost its nerve and sought to play it safe; it opted for the middle road and, in so doing, had turned its back on its own socialist roots. And it certainly didn’t help that Mulcair was less than stellar in the debates and Trudeau, well, Trudeau simply surpassed the expectations of those who thought him immature and weak and unready. He did more than show up in pants. For too many, Mulcair had suddenly transformed to a hairier version of Stephen Harper; but actually, it was much worse – Mulcair had abandoned the old guard stalwarts of the NDP.

CHANGE, REAL CHANGE. WELL, NOT SO FAST.

Looks and youth can carry one for a time, in Trudeau’s case, for some time clearly. But it will eventually come crashing down because the voter who went for the same old same old will eventually tire of it convincing themselves, as they always do, that this time things really will be different buying the old arguments replacing one with the other but never going for the third choice for the same reasons: they can’t defeat__; I want__gone; my heart’s with the NDP but they can’t win. Wet logic.

On the surface, the Liberals seem to be a little more open and to have accomplished more of what they promised than the Conservatives in their best days. But, of the promises kept, the important and meaningful items appeared to have been sidelined or weakened. While campaigning, Trudeau vowed he would attempt to regain a seat on the UN Security Council with human rights as a priority. But, in carrying through with the light-armoured vehicle (LAV) trade deal with Saudi Arabia, he has revealed himself a true politician who not only failed those who believed he really did care about human rights but also his supporters who, incredibly, are still, often angrily, defending the Trudeau betrayal with the party line: it was a done deal, he had no choice. Of course he did but the ninnies will believe what they want because they are ninnies. Human rights would be a priority next deal, Trudeau vowed. That the Saudi deal violates Canada’s own rules regarding trade with nations who violate human rights is of no consequence for Trudeau who offers several excuses not one of them valid and one we already covered: the deal can’t be broken; cancelling the deal would tarnish Canada’s reputation; Canadian jobs would be lost. One would think placing human suffering second place to Canadian jobs and a $15 billion contract would tarnish Canada’s reputation. The thing is, it was Foreign Affairs minister Stéphane Dion who signed off on the export permits not Stephen Harper! According to the department of Global Affairs memo, “there have been no incidents where they (Canadian-made LAVs sold to the Saudi’s in the past) have been used in the perpetration of human-rights violations” (The Globe and Mail, Steven Chase, April 12, 2016). To victims, it likely doesn’t matter whose gun kills them but does that make selling weapons to one of the most brutal regimes morally acceptable? When the Liberals, after opposition hounding, finally did release the Department of Global Affairs report on human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, something the Conservatives refused to do, the document was heavily redacted (thus breaking Trudeau’s promise of more transparency) but offered enough to inform the public of appalling abuses including mass political executions. This is the Conservative playbook and the Trudeau Liberals signed off on it.

What does it take? Does a nice smile and warm hugs make the abuses disappear from the Canadian psyche or the crimes any less brutal? With Harper, one at least knew where he stood. He didn’t care about issues like this. He should have, Canadians should have, but he didn’t, we didn’t and neither does Trudeau.

But it’s still a shock to watch the Conservatives, now in opposition, with Tony Clement, as foreign critic, demanding the Liberals release the report on Saudi Arabia rights abuses before they complete the deal, something the Conservatives and Clement had absolutely no interest in doing when in government! Tony Clement, probably with leadership aspirations, is the same Clement who, as Treasury President, created a $50 million slush fund, spent $1 billion during the G-8 and G-20 summits for security which led to hundreds falsely detained and few charges, the same Clement who described some public servants as “dead wood”. Said this mountebank, “So don’t take the signal from the last government. If you want to be true to your principles and values, which the Conservative Party under new leadership shares, let’s move forward” (The Huffington Post Canada, Ryan Maloney, January 12, 2016). Not only did he appear to disavow his part in the Harper regime, effectively skewering Harper in the process, he skilfully demonstrated his adeptness in employing the essential tools required for success in politics: complete shamelessness and a profound facility for lying and hypocrisy.

Clement isn’t the only one of that gang so gifted.

Canadians over the past few months have been treated to the spectacle of the likes of Rona Ambrose, Pierre Poilievre, Michelle Rempel, Jason Kenney, Tony Clement, Maxime Bernier etc. speaking of co-operation, respect, and I find myself feeling trapped in a Kafkaesque world: how can these bastards who raised the spectre of fear and relentlessly worked at fomenting racial and religious intolerance still continue to hold office and so shamelessly ignore their own past behaviour?

I’M A LEADER. NO, I’M A LEADER. WRONG. I’M A LEADER.

There was Kellie Leitch standing next to Chris Alexander, gone for good one hopes, talking about a snitch line to encourage the reporting of BARBARIC CULTURAL PRACTICES. Months later, evidently chastened, remorseful, sorry, saddened, rueful, regretful, she appeared on Power and Politics clearly on the verge of faux tears, eyes welling, voice and lips trembling expressing that it had been a “mistake” to have been party to that vile campaign. Now this woman is a professional. She’s not dumb. She knew what she was doing then. Today, running for the Conservative leadership, she has determined that humble pie, especially with tears, might do some good. It was a shameless performance that has by now become familiar whereby celebrities and politicians publicly plead for forgiveness with copious amounts of tears and self-pity. Evidently, as so many politicians seem to be doing of late, Leitch has attended the same school offering the course Remorse, Tears and Forgiveness: The Art of Hypocrisy On The Comeback Trail After Losing An Election. Personally, I’m all for dumping those lying, cheating, stealing, pandering scoundrels into the garbage dump of history where they belong. Fortunately for them, there are always some willing to lap up the tears and forgive.

Then we have self-referential and self-reverential Michelle Rempel, another leadership potential, who, during the Harper years, made herself so obnoxiously present on political panels faithfully mouthing the party line and script. Believing herself leaps and bounds ahead of her colleagues and everyone else, she felt compelled to pass on this information to the world in a series of late-night tweets last October coming across as a hubris-driven rambling soak: “I’m a 35 year old chick. We are not supposed to do these sort of things, you know.” “I mean, I’m too brash, impetuous and abrasive, right?” “I am competent, proven, and ready. Here’s the question – are you ready for someone like me?” Far from being unique, she was just another loud, offensive, Harper loyalist who now, apparently, appears suddenly engaged in presenting the other side of the Conservative coin, the softer, nicer – hypocritical – side to which all politicians eventually succumb. There she was at the Conservative convention, held the same week as the Liberal Convention, ecstatically clinching her fists when her party voted to remove the ban on gay marriage. For her, it seems, this was the clincher that her party had caught up with the times. Rubbish. But where was her voice when the party last election waged war against two Muslim niqab-wearing women and fanned the flames of racial and religious intolerance? Where was her voice or any Conservative voice condemning the Conservative Party attempting to subvert the electoral process during elections with robocalls and changes to the Elections Act? Yeah, the Conservatives are willing to change with the times and are willing to shed the tears and ooze sincerity, but how much saccharine phoniness must we endure from them and the narcissist Rempel who imagines herself leader of the Conservatives and the country and the narcissist Liberal who, to connote sincerity, taps a palm against his heart at every tender opportunity and who actually is the leader of his party and does “govern” this country? Said Rempel of the vote, “Yes, it took us 10 years to get to this point, but I think this is something that is a beacon for people around the world who are looking at equality rights. Canada is a place where we celebrate equality.” Suddenly she and the Conservatives have discovered equality rights. Tell that to the Canadian Muslims, to unionists, to those victim citizens of brutal human rights abuses inflicted on them by Saudi Arabia with whom Harper signed the fifteen billion dollar deal. I don’t recall Rempel voicing objection when Harper announced $3.5 billion in funds for global maternal and child health care while at the same time refusing to fund charities offering family planning. I can understand opposition to abortion but I cannot understand abandoning child brides and victims of war to a life of subjugation, misery and poverty. Nice.

These people are jokes. We have Maxime Bernier, another Conservative leadership entry, a libertarian who supports smaller government and the free market economy (you know, the market version of Darwinisim where those that have get more and those that don’t, well, I guess we just get less) who, as Minister of Foreign Affairs resigned after spending a night with his girlfriend, once affiliated with a Hell’s Angels member, leaving behind highly sensitive documents. Yeah, he’d be good for the country as long as he’s not preoccupied with the real things that make life worth living.

Another possibility for leadership is Jason Kenney though there are rumours he may resign his Federal post for a leadership role in his home province of Alberta. Now some may recall him as the MP who has proven himself rather careless with the use of government letterheads when fundraising and, to put it delicately, proven himself a stranger to truth more often than a man in his position should as when he attempted to suggest Trudeau seemed sympathetic to terrorists and when he tweeted pictures last year to celebrate International Women’s Day depicting women in chains and a young bride with her ISIS “husband” which the public was to take as proof of ISIS brutality. He just neglected to inform us that the first picture was a ceremonial re-enactment of an ancient historical event and that the second photo was an absolute fake. No one doubts the brutality of ISIS but it serves no cause to embellish or fake reports. But what can one expect from a fellow who also oversaw the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, which, until the story came out, allowed Canadian companies to pay foreign workers 15% less than Canadian workers. In other words, Kenney and the Harper gang conspired with big business to undermine Canadian workers. And jobs were lost because of this. But if offensive and untruthful, for some, the Liberals in particular, there appeared in his behaviour a carryover of the racism dogging the last Conservative campaign. I don’t believe racism was at play when Jason heckled defence minister Harjit Sajjan as Sajjan attempted to explain the government’s plans regarding ISIS allegedly saying MPs needed an “English-to-English translation”. Liberals, however, demanded an apology and accused Kenney of racism. Was it? He may not have intended it as such but I have little doubt Kenney meant to be offensive. It’s comes naturally to him apparently.

Recently, Kenney has been all over the Liberals for demonstrating reluctance to denounce the acts of ISIS against the Yazidis as genocide. The reluctance by the Liberals was inexplicable but the Liberals finally agreed: ISIS acts against the Yazidis were indeed genocidal. But there is dispute about that. Vile and brutal as they are, some do not believe that the criterion of genocide has been met. To the victims, it doesn’t matter: death is death. But again, where was Kenney’s voice on human rights when Harper signed the deal with Saudi Arabia? No doubt, Kenney is an excellent politician: when it comes to the tools, lying and hypocrisy, he’s got them down pat and then some. There are facts and then there are Jason Kenney facts.

I’M NEW BUT AM I REALLY DIFFERENT?

It is not necessary to enumerate all the Conservative betrayals, the list would be too long, and I have covered many of them enough to be justly charged with being tiresomely repetitive, but it may still help to remind some that, when they finally did achieve the majority the Conservatives routinely abused the privilege wielding it as a club alienating environmentalists, jurists, educators, scientists, public service workers, unionists, military veterans, and the media while also working to dismantle the electoral process that would and could hamstring Elections Canada while effectively disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of voters. Unfortunately, we are seeing signs of similar failings from the Trudeau Liberals and not just with LAV. Motion 6, introduced and just as quickly rescinded last month, a bill some observers have suggested as being even more regressive, vicious and draconian than any put forward by the Harper gang during their worst days, not only gave the Liberals absolute control of the House, it stripped the opposition of any opportunity to do its job. Though rescinded, Motion 6 hovers like an evil spectre that, having been raised once can be made to rise again. The Liberals may be a younger crowd but they play hardball as seriously as any experienced politico thug.

In fact, the Liberals have learned a lot from the Conservatives. They have certainly learned that as long as people still support them, they can get away with anything.

Honesty; transparency; truth. Trudeau’s Liberals, as have the Conservatives, have betrayed all three with the same casualness. We have justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould unapologetically breaching what must surely be conflict of interest guidelines by attending a private fundraiser by lawyers. No matter; who cares except a few lousy journalists, idiot bloggers and concerned citizens?

When the Harper Conservatives became fixated on securing F-35s, Liberal and NDP opposition members were justly harshly critical of his failure to move towards an open bidding process and for his secrecy regarding costs and for his personal attacks against Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer at the time. While the Liberals have not quite decided what to do with the F-35s, they have set their sights on purchasing Super Hornet jets labelled an “interim measure” without consultation apparently the matter too urgent to be delayed. While our present force of CF-18s is due for retirement in 2020, there is no evidence provided of the sudden urgency to move now. However, these are the best fighter jets for Canada we are informed. Didn’t the Harper gang say the same regarding F-35s? The F-35s are single engine while the Super Hornets two-engine; if I were a pilot I know what I would prefer. However, recently there was news of trouble with the oxygen supply for the Super Hornets. The Liberals might do well to pull back a little and investigate further with the possibility of looking at other jets. The Conservative secrecy they once decried suddenly seems acceptable. Ah, politics. Give me the honest liar.

Now the Liberals have announced they would return the prison farms considered a very good rehabilitative tool for convicts. The Conservatives, preferring punishment to rehabilitation, had scrapped the program. Bringing back the prison farms is a good move as is the Liberal decision to alter the make up of the electoral reform committee to reflect the proportionality of the vote rather than the number of seats won. Unsurprisingly, the Conservatives squeal, “back room deal” between the Liberals and NDP. As good phoney hypocrites they, naturally, chose to ignore their own failures to consult with Canadians and the opposition when they rammed through Bill C-23, the so-called fair elections act, and their many attempts to slip legislation into omnibus bills. Regardless, all that wheeling and whining may prove unnecessary. The Liberals may not go through with the reform or simple ignore the recommendations opting instead for their preferred choice, which will favour them forever, the ranked ballot system.

The Liberals have also kept another promise with the formation of an oversight committee to be watchdog over our spy agencies. That, too, is good. It was also another easy commitment and will silence critics. It will consist of two senators and a maximum of four governing members and the rest from the opposition, one assumes. The committee will have the ability to scrutinize all intelligence and security operations and expected to protect the rights and security of Canadians. There will be some restrictions but even these can be publicly appealed.

The Liberals and eight provincial governments must also be congratulated for having committed to an agreement that, if it goes through, will benefit the young workers of today thirty years from now with expansion of the CPP program. It could be better with more for the poorest and meanest among us but it’s something, a start that hopefully will include those now left out.

But this is no love-in for the Liberals. There are plenty of reasons for Canadians to be unhappy.

Health Canada plans to allow for the sale of irradiated ground meat. A few years back, over twenty consumers died from tainted meat poisoning. The Conservatives followed the tragedy by reducing the role of food inspectors to that of mere rubber-stampers of in-house testing by meat producers. Since the deadly outbreak, there have been several massive recalls of tainted meat all of them caught by American food inspectors at the border. Where is Health Canada?

On May 30, 2016, I wrote an email to minister of health, Jane Philpott, with copies to the agriculture minister, Lawrence MacAulay, Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau expressing my outrage and concern regarding irradiation particularly in the area of hygiene and safety. There will be a further erosion of both. Because of irradiation, meat and other products will be deemed “safe” because zapped. Meat and other food producers will feel emboldened to increase productivity at the expense of safety and sanitary procedures. Workers, particularly in kill plants and processing, will become even more careless which will eventually result in meat products becoming laced with fecal matter, piss, puss, snot, blood and other offal matter. But that’s okay. The products may be unpalatable but will be “safe” enough to eat. Just don’t think about what you’re putting into your mouth. The products will be labelled as meat (or garden fresh fruit, lettuce, etc.) but fail to list the other tantalizing ingredients to which consumers may be subjected. Yum, yum, dig in.

But why has Health Canada, as it has over the years, and the Liberal government, as have all governments over the past twenty to thirty years, become more interested in the health of big business rather than the health of consumers. The answer probably lies in the type of people government ministers have on board as advisors and assistants. For example, we do know agriculture minister Lawrence MacAulay has employed as chief of staff one Mary Jean McFall whose family, as owners of Burnbrae Farms, is one of Canada’s biggest egg producers in the country. She was also a former member of the Egg Farmers of Ontario Board as well as a recent Liberal Candidate. Does any of this make you pause perhaps wondering what kind of relationship Health Canada may have with other agricultural or pharmaceutical interests? And then we have Bill Morneau, finance minster, who has hired folks from TransCanada. The truth is, this government is riddled with past, present and doubtless future employees of Big Business.

So whose interests are really being served? With the Conservatives, we had no doubt. The question is: How good do the Liberals look to you now?

Still uncertain?

We have minister of international trade Chrystia Freeland who has or is about to sign off on various trade deals. We’ve covered the LAV deal and the despicable Liberal response to it coated with lies and hypocrisy. We also have CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) described by Freeland as a “gold-plated” deal. I guess she likes it. And we have the highly secretive TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) deal that the Americans have called “Made in America”. Gosh, I wonder who they expect to come out the winner? Must Canadians silently believe and accept that their governments will act in the interests of all Canadians? I guess so. Only when the deal is sealed will Canadians get a glimmer of what has been traded, sold, or betrayed with threats of severe sanctions to anyone revealing any part of the deal before then.

With NAFTA, Canadians saw how easily Conservatives surrendered sovereignty to corporations; with TPP we can only expect a further diminishment but this time with the Liberals at the helm. Business interests, i.e. the maximization of profits, supplant Canadian laws meant to protect its citizens. This is better? Is this what Canadians heard when Trudeau talked of more openness, more consultation and more transparency?

Perhaps we should ask our veterans those brave men and women how they feel about this “new”, “better” regime. Abused by the Conservatives and now by the Liberals, veterans must be wondering when the nine veterans offices will be reopened. Too, what happened to the reinstatement of the lifelong disability pension? Gone, the promise sweetened only by an increase to the lump sum payments. Well, better than a lump of coal. Too bad. Suckers! Isn’t it enough to be called a hero?

Is this what our governments have become? Mean-spirited bullies jerking veterans around? Seems so.

Oh, yes, there have been some give by the Liberals, but on the small things.

Look at how the Liberals handled C-14, the physician-assisted legislation he promised to introduce. He kept that promise. That’s good. However, he weakened it so drastically that it satisfies no one except, perhaps, to those shining Christian hypocrites absolutely opposed to assisted suicide regardless of the pleas of those suffering. That’s bad. Trudeau and his justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and health minister Jane Philpott, have arrived at a formula that will allow doctor-assisted suicide only for those near certain death. This does not address the mandate of the Supreme Court and certainly does nothing to comfort most Canadians and especially those not terminally ill suffering unendurable mental anguish and physical pain. Trudeau clearly did not spell out the terms of his proposed legislation to Canadians while he campaigned. He and his crew deliberately misled the public doubtless aware that it expected him to honour the intent of the Supreme Court. He did not. What he did was cruel and manipulative. But it helped win him the vote. For the sufferers, this is no hope, mercy or solution. Instead there is cruelty and mockery in a law that offers very cold comfort indeed.

Only when near death will those suffering from unendurable pain be allowed to receive the care they need. This is no accident. Everyone wins except those who wanted, expected and deserved more from this bill and from this government. The law will be appealed. That is exactly what Trudeau most likely hopes to happen. He can then say to those opposed to assisted dying he stood up for them while offering compassion for the dying. He can also claim he stood up for those wanting such legislation. He can say he stood up to the Senate and that he did his best to limit the effects of assisted dying; he may claim, without justification that everyone wins, those for, against and on the fence. It’s a lie, of course.

The Senate can also boast of doing its best claiming they had fulfilled their mandate, made amendments, which the government, in fulfilling its mandate, could accept or reject in passing the bill. Senators will have thus proved their utility to the public, perhaps even earning some goodwill for their stellar efforts in demonstrating that there may, indeed, be a need for this much-maligned chamber of sober second thought. Trudeau will have been vindicated and credited with creating a “truly” independent Senate and the bill, taken to the Supreme Court will no longer be his responsibility whatever happens. He did his best and whatever, if any, changes the Court makes has nothing to do with him now. He did his level best (is anyone thinking of the Harper gang now?) he can say perhaps going so far as to blame an activist court just as did Harper, an act he, Trudeau, had condemned at the time as wrong, offensive, disrespectful and irresponsible.

Even the Conservatives can draw some comfort perhaps even vindication: See, we warned you of the activist courts.

Everyone will have proven his hypocritical stripe including the voters who apparently care nothing for “real” change preferring instead to swallow the bilge of those they support.

When will it end? When will voters bring an end to lies and hypocrisy and the liars and the hypocrites? Why do we listen to the demagogues who pander to the worst in us and why do we accept the populist rhetoric of voter as victim rather than refusing to be either victim or victimizer? Education, being open to new ideas, listening, really listening and understanding what one sees, hears and does are the tools we need to combat ignorance, fear, wishful thinking, magical thinking, non-thinking. Since Canada became a nation we have heard the same two parties make and break promises and still we go on voting for the same two lying hypocritical groups rather than trying out the third party or even the forth party. When will we awaken to the fact that parties campaigning with fear rather than hope and “real” change, change that actually takes place, wage war against truth? We must stop being afraid. When we hear of terrorists, examine what is really being said and done and look at your fellow citizens and the multitude of examples that give the lie to those haters who would have us make decisions based on fear. When will we shun the demagogue who pushes our emotional buttons because he does not believe us capable of thinking, of reasoning, of discerning the true from the false? When will we stop allowing ourselves to be defined by others and when will we put an end to our own self-doubts about our own worth and humanity and the worth and humanity of our neighbours and those newcomers seeking the comfort and security we claim to provide? We cannot call ourselves a truly good people unless we accept and help the poorest and meanest among us and know we have no right to judge when we do not know their story.

Unfortunately, when I look across the line to America and when I look back on all the elections I fear that what I will see in the future will simply be an ugly mirror of the past. We will not get better. We will not be better. We will keep on saying: This time, it really will be different.

It won’t. Too many refuse to wake up.

I will ask as I have asked many times before: How stupid can people be?

Evidently the pool is limitless.

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But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

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They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin

 

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