Boris Johnson's Contempt a Lesson to All

  • National Newswatch

In becoming the political parody of the age, Britain's Boris Johnson is nevertheless hardly alone in his lack of accountability.  The United States, United Kingdom, Scotland, France, Turkey, Hungary, Israel, and Russia have all sported government and opposition leaders who have run afoul of legal precedence and launched their nations into political turmoil.Johnson's antics have proved particularly debilitating, leaving the UK in a kind of suspended animation that is more tragic than truthful.  His former boss at the Daily Telegraph attempted to warn Brits about Johnson's inclinations before he even became prime minister:  “There is room for debate as to whether he is a scoundrel or mere rogue, but not much about his moral bankruptcy, rooted in contempt for truth.”  That's quite a profile from someone with inside knowledge of Boris Johnson's proclivities.It didn't seem to matter, as Johnson went on to win the election and was deemed to be “wildly popular.”  He succeeded largely due to all the myths he helped peddle about Brexit and Britain's desire to go it alone, without Europe.Then came the pandemic.  And it was his leadership style during the troubling months that have now caught up with him, likely making any political leadership comeback an impossibility.An all-party parliamentary committee has spent months investigating “Partygate” – Johnson's wilful flaunting of pandemic rules in his private circles in a fashion that contradicted the harsh health standards he imposed on the rest of the country.  When he learned that he could suffer a 20-day suspension if found guilty, Johnson went into attack mode, intimidating the committee at the same time as he was misleading it.  It was a reckless gamble that eventually earned him a 90-day suspension instead.  Johnson then stepped down as an MP, after they called his bluff.As bad and as embarrassing as all this has been, the promotion of Brexit will leave a humiliating stain on Johnson's place in history.  He used it as a wave to surf to victory, even though most of what he pronounced was a grand myth.  The population, including an increasing number of its leaders and media outlets, has openly admitted to having been “duped” by the fabrications of the Brexit narrative.  Some have gone so far as to say such a reckless plan has now ruined the British economy.  It was ultimately designed to gain or hold onto political power, not to reinvigorate the UK economy.  One heading in the Guardian last week said it succinctly: “Boris Johnson's legacy: He has ruined Britain's place in the world.”The problem with Johnson's actions, outlook, and manipulations is that they weren't unique in an increasingly politically deviant world.  More extremist political aspirants across the world are openly flouting the law as a means of gaining victory.  A mere two decades ago this would have been regarded as political suicide, but it has now been embraced by some as a devious means to a diabolic end.  It tears at the very heart of democracy and threatens to undo diplomatic alliances that have been essential in the era since World War Two.While it appears likely that Brexit has failed and that the increasingly acquired knowledge of Donald Trump's personal vendetta against public and private institutions will eventually keep him from power, the damage across the board has been extensive.  Democracy is on the mat, struggling to prevail.  Capitalism remains an increasingly bifurcated economic tool that continues to advance the gap between haves and have-nots.  And middle-class populations in numerous countries are growing so disgusted by such manipulations that they continue to opt out of public engagement, leaving the arena increasingly to the purveyors of myth.Canada's middle class faces the same economic pressures, but not the political ones.  While proponents of extremism in Canada, left and right, carry on with castigating our political leaders, it remains an empty exercise to liken Pierre Poilievre to a right-wing fanatic or Justin Trudeau to a tinpot dictator.  I have worked with both men in Parliament, and such claims have no substance.  Jagmeet Singh is no communist, and Yves-François Blanchet is no lawless vigilante.  These are mere labels devoid of reality, and Canada should count itself fortunate to have escaped some of the worst evils of extremism.Nevertheless, the economic pressures facing the 40 million citizens of this nation must be addressed in a far more productive manner than they are at present.  Leave such issues unaddressed, and there is no guarantee that the squeezing between the right and left of the political spectrum that Canadians face won't become a more attractive option in the coming years.  As Canada Day 2023 approaches, this country remains a global example of security, prosperity, and stability.  That is something to celebrate, but it must also be enhanced if it is to endure.Glen Pearson was a career professional firefighter and is a former Member of Parliament from southwestern Ontario. He and his wife adopted three children from South Sudan and reside in London, Ontario. He has been the co-director of the London Food Bank for 35 years. He writes regularly for the London Free Press and also shares his views on a blog entitled “The Parallel Parliament“. Follow him on twitter @GlenPearson.