Saturday's Ottawa Citizen reports remarks by long-time Quebec provincial and federal Liberal Daniel Sweeney that foreign diplomats do indeed try to influence Canadian politics, not always in entirely proper ways. It might seem like a pretty dull story because it's so obvious. But considering the ruckus that erupted when CSIS director Richard Fadden warned about foreign influence on Canadian politicians back in June (which Sweeney directly referenced in speaking out) apparently it is necessary to say it's happening.

It doesn't mean we have to panic that diplomats try to advance the interests of their countries, that they sometimes cross ethical lines in the process, or that they are necessarily accomplishing anything important. The first two are too obvious for adults to swoon over and the third may well not be true. However, when it comes to not panicking, the obligation to act like grownups also requires that we not get the vapours when someone speaks a vaguely unpleasant truth, as too many people did when Richard Fadden made his mysteriously controversial remarks early in the summer.

Yes, these things go on. Yes, we must acknowledge that they happen and discuss them in a reasonable and forthright manner. It shouldn't be that hard.

Posted by John Robson

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