Service, sacrifice. Mulroney, Dhalla.

Two politicians in Ottawa today, one retired, the other active, provided glimpses into the unsung, selfless motivations of public servants.

Brian Mulroney, the former prime minister, testifying at the Oliphant inquiry, explained how that unfortunate business with Karlheinz Schreiber all began with Mulroney’s deeply felt desire to bring prosperity to poor Nova Scotia.

“Let me tell you this,” he said, “you’re the prime minister of Canada, and you’ve got areas of your country, particularly disadvantaged areas, central or eastern Nova Scotia, where unemployment rates had frequently gone as high as 50 per cent, and somebody comes in and says, ‘I can create a modern plant with new technology, with an export dimension to it, and I can create 500 or 1,000 new jobs, with multiplier spin-offs.’ You can bet your bottom dollar that I, or any other prime minister, is interested immediately.”

Ruby Dhalla, the current MP for Brampton-Springdale, laid bare the bitter irony of her facing allegations of mistreatment from two caregivers who testified earlier this morning, since they are precisely the sort of women for whom Dhalla has given so very much.

“I can tell you with everything in me,” she said, “the women that spoke today, these are the same women that I have been trying to help. When you take a look at the stats on the number of women that are in Parliament today, we’re at 22 per cent, and you take a look at the number of ethnic women and then you break that down to even young women, we don’t have too many. And there is a reason for that. And every initiative that I’ve championed in my own riding—I’ve created organizations to empower women, to talk about domestic abuse… And it’s these women that I’m trying to help and have spent my whole career and sacrificed my life for.”