By Medicine Hat News Opinion on July 24, 2020.
Gone are the days when people in positions of authority could be trusted and if they did slip up – they resigned.
For weeks the WE charity debacle with the federal government has raged on. When it got really hot Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized, once again, for his lack of judgment, again, and that was that. For now.
Initially Finance Minister Bill Morneau only admitted that there was in fact a conflict of interest for him too. He has family members who work for WE. He then admitted that he should have recused himself from any decision to award the lucrative contract of $900 million to WE.
In a shock announcement on Wednesday, Morneau revealed it went far beyond that. He and his family had been on trips to Ecuador and Kenya all paid for by WE. Previously he gave every impression that he had paid the expenses. Only on Wednesday morning he admitted that WE had paid and that he’d written out a cheque to reimburse them for about $44,000. After more media digging it emerged he’d only just written that cheque too. We have not even touched on the fact that he gave generous donations to WE including one last month.
Elected officials are not supposed to accept any sponsored travel. However, perhaps Morneau felt a precedent had been set when Trudeau accepted the use of a private helicopter and holiday island and got away with it.
Back in the day when a man was as good as his word and personal integrity was a requirement for anyone holding public office, someone in Morneau’s position would have acknowledged gross failings and then resigned. But then Trudeau did not do that either.
The National Post revealed that the federal government gave WE $1 million in return for hosting an event on Parliament Hill on July 2, 2017.
It is worth noting that officials in government federally and provincially are finding ways to avoid media scrutiny by simply not answering questions and refusing to do interviews. Perhaps there is so little integrity they have to keep pulling the reins tighter to avoid letting the electorate know what is actually happening.
The word integrity embodies qualities such as honesty and strong moral principles. They are the qualities that Canadians have traditionally looked for and expected at the very least from government officials.
Trudeau and Morneau have been found out this time, but it remains to be seen whether there will be any consequences for their behaviour.