As a democratic society we are governed by a set of laws, it is what generally sets us aside from anarchy and chaos. Freedoms and rights are guaranteed by statutes such as our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We freely and without pressures of any kind elect our representatives to govern and serve the greater good of the community as a whole. The words of a man who rose to greatness through his fight for equality and justice stood both as an inspiration and a warning. Marin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” So it is what we do in St. Catharines that reflects on all of Ontario, reflects on all of Canada. Our world is rapidly changing. Communication with the growth of the internet is simply at the speed of a blink, travel between our lands swift and efficient. No longer are we individual ships on an ocean but a flotilla brought together by tides of change touching and impacting each other without end.
Here in St. Catharines our municipal elections of 2010 had been marred with serious questions, first raised on this blog as yet not fully answered. More were raised on June 23rd 2011, this time in relation to campaign funds and further breaches of the Municipal Elections Act. These questions were raised by Eleanor Lancaster in official form with her submitting a Request for Audits of Election Campaign Finances to the City of St. Catharines Clerk Dan Carnegie on June 23rd 2011. Much had passed in the few short months since Eleanor Lancaster submitted her request. Also much has been said publicly in relation to the whole issue of campaign funds. This blog brought forward two separate updates clearly setting the issue at hand and even presenting documentation avoided by our stalwart of news media The Standard.
The Niagara Regional Audit Committee hearings brought forward excuses as to why illegal campaign funds were accepted. Some blamed the wording of the law as to be less than clear. Our City Clerk was blamed for providing incorrect information. Chairperson Pinder's decision shocked many. Law and its very reason for existence was swept away. Eleanor Lancaster launched an appeal through the court system. It appeared once again that it was up to the citizen to once again defend and enforce the law not our elected government. Indeed we are turning into a drive-thru society be it lawyers, cash, gas, or law. Our government only providers of the rule books behind bullet proof windows.
Now begin the greatest questions. Laws set out rather clearly in the Municipal Act are in place for a reason, those that govern legal and illegal contributions are vital. To answer once again a venerable figure of the St. Catharines and Niagara Region's political landscape, no it is not a pay scale for a politician's soul. So when Eleanor Lancaster brought forward her very public search light on selected candidates questions arose. She named six candidates and wrongly filed her request for audit against two. We have heard her reasoning on this. Eleanor Lancaster curiously brought her request for audit against two Regional Councillors to the City Clerk of St. Catharines. Before going on further it should be made clear that Eleanor Lancaster made this very public and has made public statements on several occasions on these issues. In addition Eleanor Lancaster herself spent much of her life as a public figure. In 1977 she was the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario candidate coming in second to Jim Bradley. She served as a Regional Councillor, vice-chair of the Ontario Environmental Assessment Board and chair of the Niagara Region's Health Services committee. Eleanor Lancaster has experience and a long association to politics. For this reason questions arise as to why she chose 'selective justice.'
To be fair to Eleanor Lancaster she has said publicly that she only looked at closely contested seats. She made an error in filing her audit request against two Regional Councillors to the City Clerk. It would seem that illegal campaign funds are illegal campaign funds regardless of whether there is a fight for the hot seat. One candidate with some of the worst breaches of the Municipal Elections Act on campaign funds was then intentionally left out. Mayor Brian McMullan although left out by Eleanor Lancaster from official scrutiny still faced the questions. Mayor Brian McMullan never answered them. He simply conferred with his campaign auditors. If Eleanor Lancaster did not have the experience and past associations one would possibly question less.
The Municipal Elections Act also provides serious penalties against the contributors. Who is to investigate them? It was up to a citizen to make a request for an audit and appeal an insane decision by the Committee. Who scrutinizes the contributors? It seems our Minister for Municipal Affairs Rick Bartolucci would rather pull the three monkeys act on this. Premier McGuinty sits on the bench with him, after all no one died here so why should he do anything. The government drive-thru only has the guide book on this not a 'how to' instructions manual. Questions still hang in the foul air as to why Mr. Dan Raseta, Mr. Len Pennachetti (once dubbed the unofficial mayor of Jordan by The Star reporter Susan Pigg), Mr. Nitsopolous, Mr. Rankin and others had the need to provide the illegal contributions. After all it was not only Adam who had suffered the wrath of God, but the temptress as well. Heck otherwise we'd be very lonely down here and maybe then heterosexuality would be considered as the odd game.
Martin Luther King Jr. fought injustice anywhere, he gave up his life for that belief. We have had brave Canadians sent in uniform to sacrifice their lives to bring democracy to foreign lands. Now we wait for the head hunt for candidates Brian Dorsey, Mathew Harris, Mathew Siscoe and Len Stack to begin. Selective justice is blind justice, whether based on gender, race, religion or politics. It must be questioned loudly.
A Canadian who inspired students and people from all walks of life, one cut down by illness and taken from us said in some of his last words, “Canada is a great country one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice and opportunity.” Selective justice will never allow Mr. Jack Layton's dream to come true. Though we, all of us, as ordinary Canadians can.
The greatest questions are to be revealed shortly and the answers are not comfortable.
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