Sunday, August 16, 2015

It's not just about Duffy or the Senate

The primary problem with the Harper government in Ottawa and wherever their mind travels is this: a trivializing of morality.

You might think it is important to be right, and to be seen to be right as opposed to be seen to be wrong or to be wrong. We, after all, time and history done and overdone, want to be right, don't we? Yes we do but it is ephemeral. It is not right to want to be right. Especially when it is at the expense of others who share our toys, family, town or nation, or world.

Appeal to a trivialized morality (I'm right and you're wrong) is the last resort of those who want power.

Now, hold on here, you say. Morality is important.
Yes - I agree - but it is not a simple binary yes-no matter. There are things we know of wrong and right, and things we don't know.

Let's take 'balancing the budget'.

Let's see, in the history that I can remember without looking anywhere else, did you ever see a budget that included other things, an omnibus bill that had thousands of things in it that were not budgetary? I never saw such a thing till a few years ago. These bills are the actions of a fearful minority who want to impose their own sense of what is right on the majority. And as for balance, there's a time to balance and a time to tip - how else could one play on a teeter-totter?

Let's take judgement about other humans on the team. Here there are always going to be difficulties because we are all difficult to manage. Or just judgement of other humans: Are you someone who writes off people like Omar Khadr?  I would chose him as a senator before I would have encouraged a prominent reporter and fund-raiser like Duffy to lie about his primary residence.

Let's take - muzzling the science. When you aren't sure about something - and can't face your uncertainty, muzzle the opposing voices. Deny them permission to speak. Suppress voices about climate change. Shut down libraries, environmental protection, and research projects. Is that a way to grow? Is that a way to build knowledge?

Or if someone disagrees with you, - target them - sic CRA on them. Get their charitable status revoked. Attack them. Is that how to deal with those who disagree with you?

There's enough examples. I didn't get to fear-mongering, or law and order, or the gun registry, or foreign policy, or the right to vote, or the staged public images as if we voters were all stupid and blind.

The result of all this is a dysfunctional life, a leader who misleads, and a bureaucratic office that cannot communicate any sort of truth, known or unknown, to its leader. So at best we have is a leader who is misled. It is the chicken coming home to roost.

What should you do instead as a leader: Allow dissent. There is no decision to make, no policy that can be discussed, without known and public dissent. One must have this at the micro level in the cabinet, in the PMO and among senior civil servants, in science, in economics, and in budgetary decisions from inside the inner circle and into the public. Then we will have discussion and not confrontation.

The only time I can remember this happening in the last 9 years of Harper's rule is when Flaherty disagreed with the Income splitting proposal. And I agree with Flaherty, though his friends are not my friends. C'est la vie. Income splitting is neither right nor wrong, but for Canada at the moment, it is an appeal to the base nature of the rich, and not a contribution to fairness of opportunity.

I am looking for policies in the other candidates in this election that relate to the difficult process of choosing and building a cooperative team and managing opposing views.