The controversy surrounding Kathleen Wynne’s scheduled appearance at Ward 4 city council candidate Jesse Helmer’s fundraiser has brought an interesting Jewish legal concept to the forefront of my mind: Marit Ayin, literally, appearance to the eye.
I think the concept of marit ayin – when an action is intended as ‘A’ but may appear as ‘B’ – really sums up why the premier’s visit to Mr. Helmer’s campaign seems like much more than a friendly visit, as he told the media and expressed on Twitter.
But before I continue talking about a concept in Jewish Law, I would like to point out that I am against the conflation of religious and secular law and am extremely pleased with the separation of church and state – just to be clear.
Getting back to my point, if the premier was attending a BBQ at the Helmer residence, or visiting him in the hospital, I wouldn’t be posting this entry.
But when the most powerful politician in the province plans to attend your fundraising event, you’re essentially using “political steroids” to generate name recognition and funding; an unfair advantage in a municipal arena that is community-based, and where the individual actions of the candidate counts more than their political associations. By the way, Mr. Helmer is highly involved in the community and has a much sexier web presence than yours truly, so I’m not sure why the premier’s appearance is even necessary.
With the premier’s endorsement of a city council candidate comes the danger of provincial political priorities making an incursion into the municipal fray. And there is sometimes very little ground for the two to share. Although that’s not always the case, London-specific issues must be decided from a municipally-based perspective. It is notable that Ms. Wynne is going to be in London to address a conference of more than 1,500 municipal politicians and staffers who will be coming to London for the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference beginning August 17.
This is our immediate environment and we can’t have our priorities subsumed under the macro-rubric of the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP or others.
This is not a histrionic reaction couched in observational terms – I’m merely saying that we must safeguard the distinct borders of influence if we wish to steer the ship in the right direction, which as Londoners, is our exclusive purview.
As one constituent – who wished to remain anonymous – told me in an email: “She [Kathleen Wynne] is definitely interfering in municipal politics. I’m not surprised at all. She is no different than the slouch she replaced.”
And that’s another major problem here: the tarnished reputation of the Liberals – tarnished because of a flagrant lack of accountability and remorse. I’m speaking about Ms. Wynne’s predecessor, Dalton McGuilty, I mean McGuinty.
Whether it be the gas plant scandal, as I mentioned to the Metro paper, Ornge, eHealth and other mismanaged projects, the Liberals are sorely lacking the integrity factor.
Over the last decade, the Liberal party has become, to paraphrase the Scarface character Frank Lopez, a chazzer; that is, a pig that don’t fly straight.