September 20th, 2019

Making a mockery of the office of the ethics commissioner

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on August 23, 2019.

gslade@medicinehatnews.com@MHNGillianSlade

What on earth is the point of having an ethics commissioner’s investigation and report when it can just be ignored?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made a mockery of that office and its intended role.

Trudeau says he accepts the report, but does not agree with it and so still stands by what he did.

The whole reason for having an ethics commissioner is to point out any error – where someone may have thought that were doing something ethically acceptable when in fact they were not.

It is time for the office of the ethics commissioner to have some teeth. That office should have the authority to impose a penalty.

A generation or two ago that authority to impose a penalty was probably not even necessary.

Many people in positions of authority, when faced with a damning report, would have simply acknowledged a loss of judgment and resigned.

Long gone are those days.

Now to provincial politics.

The United Conservative government has been extremely busy appointing panels, committees, individuals and companies to undertake reviews and investigations over the coming months.

It is going to be a long, long time before we see the results of any of this.

There were many things the previous provincial Conservative government did wrong but one thing they did right was telling us what these things cost.

When a panel was established or a minister was flying somewhere with an entourage the press release would include the budgeted cost. The public could see for themselves how their tax dollars were being spent and decide if it was good value for money.

In many cases recently we have been told that the individuals on panels were not being paid for their service. However, there is still a budget because these people travel to different locations as part of their tasks. There is a cost to that and the public have a right to know that budgeted amount.

This is particularly important from a government that has been very vocal about the financial condition of the province.

If the government is asking Albertans to tighten their belts then we have the right to expect that of government officials and the people they appoint.

(Gillian Slade is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to https://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions, email her at gslade@medicinehatnews.com or call her at 403-528-8635.)

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