Two people from opposite sides of the political spectrum were on the headlines this week: Kelly Rose Pflug-Back and Munir Sheikh. According to the Toronto Sun, "police alleged the University of Guelph student is responsible single-handedly for thousands of dollars of damage". Kelly Rose gave herself up to police on charges of setting fire to a police cruiser and inciting others to do likewise (1). Munir resigned as the Chief Statistician at Statistics Canada rather than sacrifice his professional integrity and that of his Office. in my opinion, both took steps to trumpet the need for rational analysis and sanity to prevail over ideologically-driven decisions.
I liken Kelly Rose's actions to that of Thich Quang Durc, the Vietnamese monk who burned himself in 1963 on a Saigon street to protest the persecution of Buddhist monks by the U.S.-backed Vietnamese government. His self-immolation brought widespread condemnation of the government's actions and led to international pressure for reforms. It's debatable whether or not Kelly Rose actually torched a police car and broke store windows; suffice to say that she, as well as her sympathizers' actions, has further engaged the public's awareness to the insanity of an elite club of a few nations, clearly not a representation of the world's population, and arguably, in the payroll of major commercial interests, determining the future of our planet.
Munir is a respected academic and career bureaucrat who felt that the current government's use of Statistics Canada as a tool for implementing policies based on ideologically-driven notions was unacceptable. The viability and utility of a venerable institution such as Statistics Canada was clearly threatened by this and other political interference. Munir did what is unthinkable for a government official of his rank and status; he resigned.
Kelly Rose is a 21-year old student (read: meagre finances) who has staked her future in defence of principles she obviously strongly believes in. If convicted, her record will be a hindrance to future activities, e.g., entering the United States may become an impossibility. Munir is a career civil servant who has been well-compensated for a near lifetime of public service; he can look forward to a comfortable life beyond this. Doubtless, he will be getting offers for prominent postings.
Two Canadians. One unwavering principle. You have to love Canada!
(1) Kelly Rose's photo and quote from the Toronto Sun, 22jul2010.