"Justice must needs be a good thing, and the old proverb still holds good; thieves are never rogues among themselves."
So we're hearing that Andrew Leslie claimed $72,000 in expenses to move down the street. Bought-and-paid-for advocates are shouting to high heaven about the gross entitlement of the man, looking after his own interests even as wounded veterans who are trapped in PSTD and may not have access to/know how to use the Internet are left suffering.
The first thing that struck me when I read this story was Leslie's quote - "The Department of National Defence handles and pays all the costs for packing, shipping... The overwhelming majority of expense is certainly the real estate fees."
To all the entitled, selfish bastards out there - do you have any idea how much it costs to provide you healthcare, infrastructure and the like? I'm referring very particularly to Million Dollar Murray, that contemptible human being who claimed a million bucks in services.
It's possible Leslie knew he was entitled to a move, found a place to move to and then left the rest to the system to handle. Does that absolve him of the price tag? No more than living in society absolves anyone who accepts our democratic sausage without asking how it gets made. We have no idea what he knew, what else he was engaged in at the time or what standard protocol for anyone in his position is, whether they plan to run for office or not.
That's all different of course - people going about their lives in a social system don't know and honestly, don't care about the cost borne by government for the ins and outs of their daily existence. The cost of Ministerial travel is necessary, the cost of Executive pay is validated and the like, unless it comes to public scrutiny. Ours is not to question why, right? Ours is to hear and outcry.
The next thing that comes to mind is a passage from Peacekeeper: Road to Sarajevo by then-Major General and former Conservative candidate Lewis MacKenzie wherein he tells the tale of he and other military folk demanding status-appropriate transit for the commander of their UN mission. If you were to ask the soldiers who have served under Leslie - how would they feel about this expense, as we're talking about their wants and needs here? Irrelevant, of course - only the opinions that serve the narrative matter.
When I first hear Leslie's name raised in relation to one of Justin Trudeau's recorded policy talks, I made a point of connecting with friends in the military for their take on the man. All were positive - one guy who had served with Leslie said "he's the real deal - men willingly follow him." That was what I needed to hear. If the people whose lives had hung on Leslie's decisions felt he was a good, competent and committed man, I was willing to give him a chance.
But politics isn't about leadership and some politicians have less honour than thieves. For them, winning is all that matters; anything that provides that win is acceptable. Laws can be broken, reputations trashed, good people thrown into the ovens to burn, so long as when the ash settles they're the ones left dining on the right side of the House.
Remember when Stephane Dion was called unpatriotic? Remember when a legal coalition was called illegal? Remember going over the heads of Parliament and even the Governor General?
We have moved into this parallel world where ends justify means and anything that can be used to destroy an enemy is all that counts, while anything that boosts an ally is all that matters.
Our veterans (Andrew Leslie included) haven't made tough sacrifices in defense of both our country and the principles we supposedly hold dear so that aggressive, petty partisans can tilt at whatever windmill suits their narrative. That's not good government, nor a just society.
Our veterans are not pawns in a partisan game, props when convenient and whiners when not - they, not some politician or their backroom operators, are the ones that stand on guard for our country.
They deserve better than this. And so does Canada.
UPDATE 20/2/14: It must be an unsettling experience, especially coming from a profession that places such high stock in notions of personal honour - unlike, say, politics.
Politics is about winning. Winning comes at someone else's loss. When it's about winning - not achieving - everyone loses.
It's time to change the game.