What a great story! The scandal rocking the BC Legislature, surrounding alleged spending improprieties by two public officials, have riveted the attention of both the media and the public.
However, there are also larger issues that I don’t think have yet been adequately canvassed or explored: WHY did this happen? HOW could it? WHO is really responsible for setting the conditions for such abuses?
I say look UP … look way UP … to the politicians in every Canadian jurisdiction to see why, how and who is responsible for the mindset and conditions that can lead to these kinds of abuses.
Have we already forgotten that in 2016, there were 14 Canadian Senators ordered, after a special investigation by former Supreme Court Justice Ian Binnie, to pay back improperly charged expenses … as high as $200,000.
And that was totally apart from the other questionable spending habits of Senators Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau.
Or International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda’s $16 glass of orange juice and $1,000 a day limousine tab; Airbus; Shawinigate; Sponsorship; or Prime Minister Trudeau’s ‘free” vacation on the Agha Kahn’s private Caribbean island.
In BC, of course, we’ve witnessed decades of questions, allegations and accusations surrounding a whole host of political figures and their actions, involving waste, conflicts of interest, dealings, spending or over-spending.
Just to name a FEW: the Robert Sommers affair; Gracie’s finger; Dirty Tricks; Fantasy Gardens; Phil Gaglardi; Bill Reid; Stephen Rogers; Bingogate; BC Rail; Fast Ferries; Coquihalla Highway; Bill Bennett/Doman Industries; Bollywood; and, how about when Christy Clark’s government “sold off 150 hectares of land in Port Coquitlam for $43 million BELOW the appraised value, all in the effort to make a quick buck to produce her “balanced budget” for the 2013/2014 fiscal year.” (Huffpost). Yikes!
Want more? Take a look at this synopsis on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_political_scandals_in_Canada
And don’t get me started on all those extravagant “renovations” of offices and furnishings that politicians also so often find necessary to make themselves more “efficient”. I’d say “comfortable”.
It is NOT just a question of legality: it goes well beyond that to lack of RESPECT. Lack of respect for the public and lack of respect for the taxpayers’ money … and how hard people work to get it … and then turn it over to politicians … too many of whom abuse it.
Just take a look at all those meetings and conferences and conventions and trade missions and fact-finding or friendship boondoggles … ooops, business trips … our elected officials find so important to attend personally, that are so often held at First Class hotels or resorts in balmy, world-wide five-star locations!
Not just politicians at the federal or provincial levels of government, but municipally and regionally as well … too many living too high too often … sucking on the public teat.
Some meetings/conventions etc. are no doubt worthy and productive … but far too many, I believe, do not yield much in the way of productive return on the taxpayers’ dollars. And I have no doubt politicians attending those, especially in wonderful or exotic foreign locales and accompanied by their partners, know that before they go.
It’s our politicians who set the tone … where privilege, pampering and public payouts for private profit …. so often can run amok, to the detriment of our society.
So when “adults” act improperly … it should be no surprise the “kids” are watching … and learning.
None of this, of course, excuses any actions or abuses carried out … if true … by Legislative Assembly Clerk Craig James or Sergeant at Arms Gary Lenz.
But when, over decades, too many of the elected “leaders” show so little regard or self-restraint in spending public dollars on pet projects or partisan political promotions or, worse, feathering their own personal nests, rewarding their friends, families, associates and supporters, why would we be so surprised when bureaucrats also err?
Think about that as the latest scandal unfolds …. and politicians line up to express shock and dismay at abuses by those who so long witnessed how money is spent from within the system.