"No man can serve two masters..."
In the context of a political discussion, that quote is most often used (particularly by yours truly) to illustrate the natural conflict that ensues from the application of the party system within a representative democracy. In effect, the argument goes like this: "Joe Schmoe and the rest of the people in his caucus have to vote for [blank], because the [blank] lobby group donated huge bucks to their campaign - thus disenfranchising the voters in Schmoe's riding, who overwhelmingly oppose [blank]."
This, however, is not the discussion we're having today. At least, not directly.
Today, we're discussing the difference between the Conservative Party of Canada and the Government of Canada. Or, these days, the lack thereof.
A couple of recent points have come up that have the Tories twisted into knots.
RCMP aid Elections Canada in execution of warrant for Tory headquarters
Rob Anders is a mouthy ignoramus... STILL.
Issue 1: The "raid" of Tory headquarters, and subsequent "leak" from Elections Canada. The suggestion being made by Tory spokespeople, both on and off the record, is that the people at Elections Canada have an anti-Tory bias (or a pro-Liberal bias, depending on your perspective), and are actually trying to sabotage the party's electoral fortunes. Initially, the same suggestion was being made of the RCMP, until it was made clear that they were compelled to help execute the warrant, and didn't "take it upon themselves to show up".
Issue 2: The Embarrassment from Calgary West and his big, fat mouth. Anders stated, in multiple interviews, that China was the 'worst human rights abuser in the world'. A not uncommon opinion, in this part of the world. I happen to agree - or, if not the WORST, at least in the top 5. What IS uncommon, though, is for a sitting member of the GOVERNMENT CAUCUS to fire shots at a foreign power in the media. Remember how incensed the Tories were when the shoe was on the other foot?
Now, neither of these issues is a particularly new creature, in public or private, to the Tories. They have long decried the perceived "institutional bias" against their party by the likes of the CBC (agreed), the print media, the public sector, old people, young people, and reality-at-large. Likewise, they have traditionally been the party of "call it like you see it", where remarks like those by Anders are embraced as bold, and feted as the antithesis of the careful, professional politician's approach.
Here's where we run into a problem... when the Tories were in opposition, these were minor character traits. They were the annoying little nuances that might make you less likely to vote for them, but nobody outside of Canada paid them any mind whatsoever.
The Tories aren't in opposition anymore - they're in government.
The party, and its elected Members of Parliament, are the official representatives of the Government of Canada and its people. This is the party that, as the holder of the largest number of seats in a de facto majority (127 of 212 voting members), appoints ambassadors, judges, and other people who agree with it philosophically.
When something goes on within this party, it's going on WITHIN THE GOVERNMENT. And when that happens, other nations DO take notice.
Someone accuses an opposition party of wrongdoing? There's a search warrant executed? The party accuses Elections Canada of bias? A week later, one of their members shoots off his mouth about a foreign country? Hardly even a blip on the international radar. The Canadian ambassador in the People's Republic of China holds his dinner party, and the discussions are about art or music.
Someone accuses the governing party of wrongdoing? There's a search warrant executed? The party accuses Elections Canada of bias? A week later, one of their members shoots off his mouth about a foreign country? The international community wavers between contempt and ribald laughter. The Canadian ambassador in the People's Republic of China holds his dinner party, and the guests want to know what the hell his government is trying to pull.
THERE'S the difference. And the Tories need to wake up and realize it... what happens to their party isn't just internal anymore... it reflects of ALL of us, because it is reported as shenanigans involving the GOVERNMENT of Canada - which represents us ALL.
And while they're at it, they should consider this: Canadians are, on the whole, pretty forgiving of idiotic moves by opposition politicians. They're almost expected - after all, the little guy needs to get noticed. They are NOT, however, forgiving to the same degree when it comes to parties in power, who should know better. Ask Paul Martin and Kim Campbell.