Perspective by Bob Roth
posted 23 Jan 2004

To MPP Brownell: Stop The Liberal Hypocrisy Now

I can’t believe it - two-faced hypocrisy reigns supreme in the new Ontario Liberal government.
After denouncing the former PC government for not calling a public inquiry into the Cornwall child sex abuse coverup, Ontario’s Liberals are playing the same stalling game. And, to make matters worse, they are using the exact same sorry excuse the Tories used.
How many election promises are these guys going to break?!
Through MPP Jim Brownell, Premier Dalton McGuinty has informed the citizens of Cornwall and area that their plea (backed by a 12,000-name petition) for a public inquiry is being put off until the relevant court cases have been completed - the exact same position taken by Tory premiers Mike Harris and Ernie Eves.
The problem is, while in opposition, McGuinty and other high-profile Liberals ridiculed the Tory position and said the inquiry should go ahead immediately.
I quote McGuinty who said to Harris and then Attorney General Jim Flaherty in the legislature on December 13th, 2000: “You’ll be very much aware of the precedents in Mount Cashel and Westray and even, in our province, in the case of Walkerton, all cases where independent inquiries were conducted at the same time as criminal investigations and proceedings were underway. What you are offering is an excuse…you are continuing to make excuses. We can tailor this commission of inquiry so that it doesn’t in any way unduly prejudice any criminal investigations.”
So I, and the people of Cornwall, ask you MPP Jim Brownell - why is your boy McGuinty now making the same excuses? What has changed legally?! Absolutely nothing! In fact, almost all of the criminal cases have been cleared since McGuinty made that statement. I am only aware of one - the Leduc case. If McGuinty knew how to “tailor” an inquiry around several investigations and court cases, how come he can’t “tailor” around one?!
The fact that McGuinty and his Liberals, while in opposition, voted unanimously on three separate occasions in favour of MPP Garry Guzzo’s private member’s bill calling for a public inquiry also shows that they had no problem backing an inquiry when several cases and dozens of charges were before the courts. So, what’s the problem now? Is somebody - or some powerful institution - putting on the pressure?
There is no reason that a public inquiry has to tramp on the Leduc case. One person, one case is not the issue. The key issue to be probed by the inquiry is what caused massive institutional failure in Cornwall. The church covered up the issue. The police, initially, couldn’t find the issue. The courts bungled the issue. Judges behaved in a stunning fashion, one going so far as to downplay the seriousness of child sexual abuse, itself. And now the politicians continue to sweep it all under the rug - despite their pre-election promises to the contrary.
When things like this happen in Boston, they do something about it. But not here in Sleepy Hollow.
To this day, we don’t know what happened, why it happened, or if any real changes have been made to ensure that it never happens again.
The fact that we can’t even get an inquiry tells me that some powerful forces are at work here. And if they’re powerful enough to frighten government, they’re still powerful enough to abuse children.
These people, who obviously feel they are above the law, must be laughing in our faces. “See, we are so powerful, we can bugger your children and get away with it.”
It’s been more than a decade since this issue started to unravel. Memories fade; witnesses vanish. We can’t afford to wait. Is the government hoping to drag this out until it can say  in the finest tradition of holocaust deniers - that the outrage never even took place?
What a shameful abdication of responsibility. I say it’s time for a bus trip to Queen’s Park.
In the meantime, MPP Brownell is faced with his first major, ethical test. He was elected to be a watchdog for his constituents, not a lap dog for Mr. McGuinty. Too many backbenchers simply bark the party line when their political masters tug their chains. What Brownell needs to do, however, is howl with indignation at this political betrayal. If he’s worth his salt, Brownell will publicly call on McGuinty to start the inquiry now - and state categorically that the new government’s about-face is just one more example of how the system continues to abuse the victims as well as the thousands of good, decent people of Cornwall who have called for justice and closure on this matter.