Time was we defined and understood the difference between right and wrong. We knew that to behave wrongly with intent most likely would result in negative consequences.
Governments were to assume a role in leading, supporting and defending proper behaviour and holding to account violators, particularly within their own ranks. Proven ethical misconduct was expected to lead to resignation.
Policing parliamentary ethics began to evolve some forty years ago, but there wasn’t much of a grey area between the acceptable and the unacceptable. Pleading for leniency with a person hired to set the ethics line was unheard of in parliament prior to the July 2007 creation of the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. The Commissioner decides on shaming/fining clear wrong-doers. The fine though amounts to a paltry $200 maximum. The shaming is equally meaningless.
Leading the current parade of ethics violators is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trudeau accepted the critique of outgoing federal Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson for his secret vacation times at Bell’s Cay, owned by family friend (and federal government lobbyist) the Agha Khan. Trudeau whose description of the Agha Khan as “family friend” strained credulity stammered through a lengthy apolo-whine, promising to do better. The Prime Minister’s mea culpa followed Dawson previously rather gently holding federal Minister of Finance Bill Morneau’s toes to the toaster over his French villa ownership. Multi-millionaire Morneau though was clipped for the $200.
Any adjudication by Dawson though is questionable because, as Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch pointed out, Dawson’s term as independent federal Ethics Commissioner had expired. Twice. Twice the Prime Minister had extended her tenure by six months, with remuneration at $100,000 per occasion. Conacher logically asks whether after two well-paid interim extensions of her time in office Dawson might be perceived as being responsible directly to the Prime Minister, rather than the parliament.
Where ethical behaviour fits into the grand scheme of daily living is up for question.
Is there a month, a week, even a day which goes by without exposure of seemingly serial ethics violations? There is the sexual harassment of women by an ever-growing list of influential men. Russia, fronting one of the world’s most powerful national athletics programs is found in serial and organized from the top violation of performance enhancing drug protocols. National European law/justice enforcement agencies accused of sweeping under the official politically correct carpet continent-wide sexual attacks on European women by migrants and refugee claimants.
At home, the about to stand for re-election Wynne government of Ontario being raked over the coals by the provincial auditor for repeated brutal misspending of billions of taxpayer dollars. On the national stage, first the Harper government and then that of Trudeau both spending significant sums to battle seriously wounded military veterans in court, arguing no federal government has a social covenant with members of the CAF. However, Mr. Trudeau had no difficulty cutting a $10.5 million cheque, underwritten by mostly infuriated Canadians, for self-confessed terrorist Omar Khadr.
Morality is being swept aside in the pursuit of political and personal gain; not to mention satisfaction. Daily violations of what should be a stringent moral code results in the young absorbing the image of an increasingly dysfunctional society where complaints can morph into rights and responsibilities end as a rock begins its flight toward a retailer’s window.
Police are bad and rioters are forgiven. Soldiers are marginalized, yet ISIS terrorists return with the current Prime Minister assuring Canadians the killers can become significant contributors to Canada’s future. John Ridsdel and Robert Hall were innocent Canadian enjoying vacation in the Philippines when they were were abducted, held for ransom and eventually beheaded by ISIS-connected terror organization Abu Sayyaf. Mr. Hall’s sister Bonice Thomas and cousin Gord Bibby have both shared with me that “indifference” is the word which best describes the current federal government’s attitude toward the grieving Canadian family.
Right and wrong. Moral and immoral. Ethical and unethical. Who, not so long ago, would have thought they would require a Commissioner to establish the line which separates one from the other