I’m working on a theory which suggests the Western world is slowly evolving from a classless liberal democratic society to a medieval-style aristocracy, one where a rich and powerful few rule the roost.
And although it sounds like a crazy theory, the recent SNC-Lavalin scandal is helping to prove my case.
Now before I go on, let me be clear, Canada is still a vibrant democracy, where all citizens are equally protected by those institutions and conventions which underpin our democracy, i.e. an independent judiciary, regular elections, a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, etc.
However, as of late, there are alarming signs indicating that the ruling classes in this country – sometimes called the “Laurentian Elites” – are creating a system whereby the state looks after their interests more than it looks after the interests of anyone who’s not a member of the Laurentian elite.
This is where the SNC-Lavalin scandal comes into the picture.
Of course, by now we all know the sordid details of this tale, of how the corporation SNC-Lavalin was charged with corruption and of how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his minions tried to influence then Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the criminal case and of how the Ethics Commissioner recently ruled Trudeau’s actions were improper.
It’s all juicy stuff, right?
But what makes this particular scandal so interesting is that Trudeau tied himself up into a moral and ethical pretzel not for the usual reasons politicians engage in shady behaviour, i.e. to enrich themselves or to help their parties electorally; he apparently did it solely to help his rich friends get out of a legal jam.
As Aaron Wudrick, who heads up the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, noted on Twitter, “It is troubling just how much clout one company has over this government. The govt tried to move heaven & earth, without regard to proper process, to give them what they wanted. Only JWR stood in their way.”
And yeah, I don’t buy the argument that Trudeau aided his friends at SNC-Lavalin to “save jobs.”
After all, we all know Trudeau wouldn’t descend from his Olympian heights to help some “mom or pop” business operation embroiled in a legal battle, that privilege is apparently reserved only for his rich friends.
Indeed, ever since he ascended to power , Trudeau has displayed much generosity to certain corporate players: he’s ladled out huge subsidies to Bombardier, he’s promised to provide massive cash payouts to media giants, and his environmental policy included giving a big whack of dough to Loblaws so it could buy new freezers.
My point is, despite all his fancy rhetoric about loving the middle class, Trudeau’s main political goal is seemingly to help out members of his own upper class.
Keep in mind that, thanks to his unmatched political pedigree and to his privileged upbringing, Trudeau is the closest thing we have in this country to an actual blue-blooded aristocrat, except instead of spending his time in a castle, he visits exclusive resorts in the Bahamas.
Anyway, isn’t it only natural that Trudeau would have an affinity for other aristocratic-style elites?
Isn’t also likely that Trudeau and other members of the ruling classes would, due to their wealth, and to their expensive educations and to their cosmopolitan cultural attitudes, see themselves as different, as better, than the average uneducated, unsophisticated rabble who make up the populace, perhaps they even see themselves as above the law?
Laws are for little people, right?
Perhaps this is why SNC-Lavalin executives went to Trudeau for help, perhaps this is why Trudeau helped them, perhaps this is why neither party still believes they did anything wrong.
At any rate, the danger of this sort of aristocratic attitude seems clear.
The more our elites come to see themselves as our moral, economic and intellectual betters, the more they will be tempted to sweep away the democratic ideal of equality, the more they will be tempted to act like aristocrats of old.
Meanwhile, if regular people start perceiving our system as one where there’s one law for the rich and powerful and another law for everyone else, the more disillusioned they’ll become with democracy, the more they’ll be open to the idea of upending the entire system.
Isn’t that how the French Revolution started?
Yes, that sounds a bit alarming but if you study history, you’ll quickly discover that democracy is the rarity, rather than the rule.
Of course, we’ll need more SNC-Lavalin-style scandals to erupt before democracy is threatened in this country.
Yet the trend is worrying.
Indeed, if Prime Minister Trudeau wins the next election, don’t be surprised if the CBC starts calling him, “Sir Justin the Cute.”
Photo Credit: Jeff Burney, Loonie Politics
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