Do we need more Vikileaks? - Macleans.ca

Do we need more Vikileaks?

In Canada only insiders seem to care enough about politics to be so rude

by

How very boring that Vikileaks has turned out to be just a sleazy partisan attack from a Liberal staffer. It’s already being absorbed into the system: politics as usual. Rae is sheepish, Toews indignant, Trudeau tap-dances and the NDP are vindicated and can enjoy the show from a comfy distance. Oh well.

As an inside volley, the Twitter-smears were indeed foul play. I found them ugly, but effective. They violated the acceptable codes and norms of Parliament Hill. They used personal details to fight public policy. Adam Carroll, the staffer behind the account, needed to go.

But what if Vikileaks had indeed been the lunchtime project of a random, anonymous Canadian? The divorce affidavits cited in Vikileaks were public documents. Publishing these documents was perfectly legal. Had this been the work of just another faceless face in the crowd, cutting and pasting info from one public source into another, then what would the offense have been? Bad taste?

It’s necessary and good that our MPs have some sense of civility. These people badly need mutually agreed upon norms of what constitutes fair play and what is deemed misconduct.  But among the wider public, such politeness is a curse.

In Canada, land of the disengaged, only insiders seem to care enough about politics to be so rude. In more rough and tumble democracies, like America’s, such rudeness can be depended upon. If there’s dirt about an elected official hidden in plain sight and on the public record, no gentlemanly code of conduct or cabal of ethical journalists can hold it back from blogs and tweets.

I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing.  What American politics lack in civility, they make up for in transparency.

Jesse Brown is the host of TVO.org’s Search Engine podcast. He is on Twitter @jessebrown

Filed under: