by Tahir Mahmoud (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 48, No. 4, Ramadan, 1440)
While there are several aspects of the SNC-Lavalin affair that have rattled people in Canada, many Muslims are not surprised by the scandal. Western secular-liberal regimes and their corporate backers (like SNC-Lavalin) have been in bed with dictators like Muammar al-Qadhdhafi for decades. Liberal-secular regimes that adhere to electoral politics internally back autocratic forces abroad and then complain how “that part of the world” is a brutal place. This is an essential part of the SNC-Lavalin affair that is getting limited coverage and only as a background context.
Instead, the media and Canadian politicians are more concerned about whether Jody Wilson-Raybould should or should not have hit the “record” button. This makes one think that a person physically stopping an arsonist should be charged with assault.
While the above points have limited relevance within the domestic Canadian context, it has deep internal repercussions on how politics is conducted within Canada. Prior to delving deeper, let us acknowledge two of our key default positions: (1) Jody Wilson-Raybould acted in a principled manner and her courage deserves praise, and (2) Canadian society should not allow the opposition Conservative Party to claim the moral high ground and utilize the scandal during the upcoming federal elections.
Let us begin with looking at our first assertion a little deeper. One of the grave calamities of contemporary times is that ethics has by default become disassociated from politics. The secular-liberal narrative of politics deliberately presents the field of politics in a Hobbesian manner. Politics is taught through the prism of “state of nature” in which humans and governments are presented as naturally evil, self-interested, and competitive by nature. This in turn creates a default justification for tyrannical states, individuals and unethical conduct of politics that often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It also puts the benchmark for politician’s behavior so low that principled positions taken by some politicians are open to criticism based on shallow and cynical grounds, something Conrad Black of the National Post has done in a blatant manner (Donald Trump just pardoned Black following his conviction by a US court that barred his entry into the US. The pardon came after Black wrote a flattering biography of the narcissist in the White House!).
Black’s condescending view of the other (read Muslims) and a cynical view of politics is worded in the following manner, “The determination of what constitutes an acceptable ethical climate for the conduct of business resides with the jurisdiction where the transactions take place. It is preposterous for, in this case, a Canadian company to be penalized for conduct in Libya that reflects the commercial customs of that country, even if the same actions in Canada would be illegal. Canada must stop masquerading as the self-elevated eagle scout of world commerce.”
Basically, it is OK to bribe Western backed despotic regimes that loot their country’s wealth, as long as a so-called “civilized” Western nation benefits from it. This is how many reasonable people would understand Black’s Machiavellian spin of the SNC-Lavalin affair.
Keeping the above points in mind, let us look at our second assertion, which relates to how the Conservative Party of Canada should not be allowed to capitalize on the SNC-Lavalin scandal. It is important to note that the political choice in the form of current party system and Canada’s currently flawed electoral system does not provide a genuine choice to the diverse population of Canada.
The Conservative Party of Canada has been embroiled in many scandals, the most serious of which was the corrupt practice of Senate appointments. Thus, no one in their right mind should assume that if the Conservatives were in power now, they would act “ethically” and with humility. The Conservative Party’s pro-bigotry and cutthroat materialistic policies are self evident.
Thus, it is mind-boggling to see some Muslims support the Conservative Party of Canada that derives part of its legitimacy from peddling anti-Muslim sentiment. When a candidate that makes Donald Trump look intelligent, Doug Ford, was elected Premier of Ontario, his first policy statement was how he was going to ban the annual al-Quds rallies, as if Ontario has a phenomenal employment and public transport system that does not require much attention.
Many Muslim voters are so confused by the “conservative” veneer that they vote for a party that drastically promotes alcohol consumption. Before heading to the polls in October 2019, Muslims need to understand that the Conservative Party of Canada and conservatism, which Muslims associate with biblical teachings similar to some of the Qur’anic teachings, are two separate entities. The Conservative Party is anything but conservative.
The Conservatives returning to power in Canada is not just bad for ethnic and religious minorities, it would be bad for Canada. Today, rightly or wrongly, Canada is seen as a sensible developed state with generally humane policies. This image of Canada, partly, artificially cultivated by the Justin Trudeau brand, is an important soft-power tool of the Canadian state. With Conservatives back in power, Ottawa will be Trump’s America 2.0. Unlike Washington, thankfully, Ottawa does not have hundreds of military bases worldwide and the Canadian dollar is not the leading global currency. Canada’s primary strength is its soft-power appeal, thus having a leadership resembling Donald Trump’s misunderstanding of global affairs will diminish Canada’s already limited global standing.