/Working with the enemy?

Working with the enemy?

From Shaman’s Rock

Jim Poling Sr.

We now have new reasons to distrust the politicians we elected to protect us and our democracy.

A troubling report from our intelligence watchdogs says that some of our federal politicians are intentionally helping foreign governments like China and India meddle in our politics. The report was tabled in the House of Commons recently.

It says that multiple members of Parliament are active participants in covert efforts of foreign countries to influence Canadian politics. Some communicated “inappropriately” with foreign missions before political campaigns and some accepted money from foreign governments or their proxies.

One example cited unnamed parliamentarians providing foreign diplomats “with privileged information on the work or opinions of fellow parliamentarians, knowing that such information would be used by those officials to inappropriately pressure parliamentarians to change their positions.”

It also said China believes it has a quid pro quo relationship with some MPs who will give the Chinese Communist Party certain information in return for favours from Beijing.

Some cases of foreign interference might be considered illegal, said the report, but unlikely will lead to criminal charges because of Canada’s “long-standing issue of protecting classified information and methods in judicial processes.”

However, the dealings are highly unethical and contrary to oaths taken by parliamentarians, it adds.

The names of the accused parliamentarians are blanked out in the report. There have been calls for the federal government to release the names, however it has been reluctant, saying there are ongoing police investigations.

“It’s important for Canadians to understand that these names are contained in intelligence reports; in some cases, it’s uncorroborated or unverified intelligence information,” Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc told a parliamentary committee studying foreign interference. “The idea that there’s a perfect list of names that is entirely reliable that should be released to the public is simply irresponsible.”

All this comes on the heels of various polls and studies saying distrust of governments in Canada has been rising steadily.

The Environics Institute for Survey Research reported recently that the proportion of Canadians saying they trust neither the federal or provincial governments to make the right decisions in four important areas has risen significantly in the last five years.

Those trusting neither government to manage health care is up from 15 percent in 2019 to 28 percent in 2024. For handling climate change, distrust has risen from 19 percent in 2019 to 28 per cent this year.

Distrust in government to promote economic growth and job creation has jumped to 23 per this year compared to 12 per cent in 2019. For managing immigration and refugee settlement it’s up to 30 per cent compared with 20 per cent five years ago.

Angus Reid Institute has reported that nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of people surveyed say politicians cannot be trusted, and one-third (32 per cent) believe they are primarily motivated by “personal gain” rather than a genuine desire to serve their communities.

Also, the institute reports that four-in-ten Canadians (38 per cent) feel the quality of federal candidates in their area has worsened in the past five to 10 years.

But the distrust goes beyond government. Canadians seem to becoming distrustful of anything and anyone.

Research by Edelman Trust Canada, a global communications company, reported in 2021 that 50 per cent of people questioned worried that business leaders are deliberately trying to mislead them. Another 46 percent believed the same about government leaders.

However, it’s Canadian politicians and their governments that must start to work feverishly at rebuilding trust. They have to start getting things done instead of just talking about them.

They need to work on getting things done before taking on new projects. They need to deliver successes to the people at acceptable costs.

Canadians are tired of promises of what can be done; and of huge expenditures on things they don’t necessarily agree with.

Delivering the basic things we need – effectively and with humility – is the best way to start rebuilding trust

Trust is a critical part of government and its institutions. We can’t fix existing problems or prepare to meet new ones without a better level of trust in our governments.