Politicians Need a Strong Set of Principles by Tom Black

Tom Black

As I pen this page, I think of my ancestors who came to this country from the Emerald Isle, to escape the potato famine. The population of Ireland in 1835 was about 8 million people. Though accurate records were not available, it is estimated that about 1 million people died and about 1 million people left, mostly going to North America. My relatives on both sides, came to the Ottawa Valley, and hacked out a living as farmers. As a young teenager, I was convinced that they chose our farm because there was an abundance of resources to build good high rock fences.

Although there were a lot of factors leading up to the crisis of the potato famine, including religious strife between Catholic and Protestant citizens, the real culprit was the lack of justice. Five hundred years earlier, people in England fought their king until he signed a document called the Magna Carta, that established the principle that the people were the government and not the King. From that time onwards, the British developed courts, laws, and enforcement that were designed to protect the individual rights of people against abuse. Now the intentions of the law are one thing, but the follow-through of that intent is only as good as the individuals that are put in charge of delivering and implementing ‘said justice’.

The British Government failed to live up to its ideals of fairness and justice when they allowed government agents like Cromwell to take land held by families for centuries to be taken over and handed to giant, absentee land barons who used the original owners as slaves to work the land and pay them rent. This same abusive government by agents, led to the American Revolution that drove the British out of what is now, the USA.

Here in Ontario, I see this same abuse by those placed in charge by the duly elected government. The rights of the individual seem always to be the target. The hell my Irish kinsmen went through, was horrendous and I would not think of equating their tragic history, to what is happening here today. However, the fact is, the same drift towards disaster is playing out here as we watch. More and more, justice is beyond the reach of anyone without the finances to afford lawyers who specialize in a game where the rules of engagement were created by the law society, which of course, is other lawyers, there to look out for their fellow teammates. They are basically a self-regulated monopoly that are endorsed by the political structure but without any real oversight by the public who eventually pay the price when they need help to navigate the legal maze. Much of this confusion is caused by the legalize that has become impossible for the common citizen to understand. This of course, is intentionally written to confuse those who are expected to obey the law, but in fact have no idea how many different interpretations, bylaw enforcers, police forces, lawyers and judges can come up with regarding the same section in the same act.

Back to Ireland! The United Nations has pressed the countries associated with the British Empire throughout the world to return land to the indigenous people who were there at the time of conquest, but I doubt if the UN will include the Irish in their definition of indigenous. History cannot be re-written, but we who are here now can write the history for tomorrow and justice for all is key to a good society. Our politicians need to return to a strong set of principles that guide their decisions when they vote on our behalf and always remember our Constitution that says: “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the Rule of Law.” The word God conjures up different visuals for different people and different religions, but for the most part, there is the concept that God is all knowing, strong, fair and incorruptible. Our country and province would be well-served if our politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers and judges would return to those principles that this country was founded on.