Maclean's Magazine
Monday, June 15, 1998
page 72

Government by muzzle on the Hill

by Alan Fotheringham

There are, as it turns out, worse things than the threat of Bill Vander Zalm returning to active politics as head of the Reform in British California.

Hard to imagine, but there are.

Even more tiresome is the relentless march of the Politically Correct Army, all in lockstep, knee-jerked, always searching with keen eye for what would appear to be cleansed, laundered with Rinso, in the public mind.

The entire Parliament of Canada - that would be the Pizza Parliament of five parties - with valorous bravery voted unanimously to bar Ernst Zundel from speaking on Parliament Hill. This is the nutter, of course, who denies the Holocaust and wastes all our tax dollars by going through the courts when we try to shut him up.

So he calls a press conference on Parliament Hill? So the pumped-up little pipsqueak called Don Boudria, Liberal House leader, immediately introduces a motion: "That this House order that Ernst Zundel be denied admittance to the parliamentary precincts during, and for the remainder of, the present session of Parliament."

Every proud member of Parliament, aware that their integrity, courage, and intelligence was on the line, obediently fell into line like the barking seals they are. And said yessir, yessir, three bags full.

This was in the same week, if we may digress, while they were all preparing to approve legislation that would give them an eight-per-cent raise over four years, double their housing allowance, and allow qualifying Reform MPs who dumped their pensions to take a $100,000 lump sum payment instead.

The nonsense in all this could only be expressed by Gilbert and Sullivan. All the pomposity raised by the mountebanks and hypocrites who flesh out the Commons benches was in full flower. Secretary of State for Multiculturalism Hedy Fry - herself an immigrant from Trinidad - cried out: "This is probably the clearest example of a united front against a hatemonger. We're very pleased at Parliament's action in this case."

Sure you are. Simply because you can;t think clearly. Better to listen to Alan Borovoy, himself a Jew, and general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. His reaction? "I am afraid this is not a proper exercise of parliamentary discretion. It could be Zundel today and someone else tomorrow."

Of course it could. Next week? A prominent anti-abortionist? Or Dr. Kevorkian? Hedy Fry might sit down and have a quiet conversation with herself. the factthat the Parliament of Canada, which has other things to contend with - including loading up its pensions - would take the time to discuss one nutbar tells you a lot about Ottawa.

And the screwball Zundel? Of course, he took just one step away from Parliament Hill and held his press conference and got six times the coverage he might have got in the first place, where no one takes him seriously anyway. It's called free speech, which must be protected somewhere in the Charter of Rights - given to us by Pierre Trudeau, who believed in it so much he said "fuddle duddle" to a member opposite in the Commons, though his actual words were somewhat shorter.

This proud Liberal government, exemplified by Boudria's pouter-pigeon outrage, is the same one delineated in the same week by John Grace, the dignified former editor of the Ottawa Journal who has served for seven years as Canada's privacy commissioner and eight as information commissioner.

In his departing report he says quite flatly that "a culture of secrecy still flourishes" in the fovernment of Jean Chrétien - who, last time we checked, was Boudria's boss. After 15 years of the idealistic Access to Informaiton Act being introduced, he found, the essential ethos of the high swivel servants was deny, deny, deny.

He quotes, in his report, the mantra of an old ward heeler in New York's Tamanny Hall days: "Never write it if you can speak; never speak if you can nod; never nod if you can wink."

Which brought us, of course, to the now-inscribed-in-the-langauge Monty Python line: nudge-nudge, wink-wink. Everyone knows what it means, especially the hordes of ex-cabinet ministers (latest being the horrible Doug Young) immediately appearing on Parliament Hill as pinstriped lobbyists pawing the lapels of this government that is so brave to banish Ernst Zundel from the Parliamentary lawn.

Political correctness will be the death of all of us. The previous NDP Harcourt government in B.C. brought in legislation that eventually brought to court my old colleague Doug Collins, who grew so old that he needed publicity and called Schindler's List "Swinder's List", and so wasted a ton more of taxpayers' dollars by being prosecuted for it.

Better to spend out time, as John Grace suggests, on more serious threats to our freedoms. He didn't mention it, but I will. In Sweden, there is a rule. Everything the government does must be open - except that which has to be deemed secret. In Canada, everything remains secret - except that which is deemed open. These guys are despicable.


Copyright © 1998 by Maclean's Magazine All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.