OUR VIEW: Ethics shouldn’t be a grey area

People should not have to dole out large amounts of cash to have access to our country’s politicians.

People should not have to dole out large amounts of cash to have access to our country’s politicians.

And, outside of party fundraisers, people do generally have access to them — even as far up as the Prime Minister.

Canada’s PM is in hot water this month over alleged ethical improprieties over his trip to the Bahamas — on top of further questions surrounding apparent cash-for-access events that would have seen large amounts of money paid by potential lobbyists to see the PM. Justin Trudeau has said, in media reports, he’s willing to stand before an ethics expert in these cases. And it’s looking like he might get that chance.

This is a good thing.

Whether Trudeau crossed ethical lines or not, our elected officials must be held to a higher standard when it comes to questions surrounding potential conflicts, influence-peddling or other alleged ethical breaches. As politicians, those individuals should also want to adhere to those higher standards. If they don’t, then they have no business being in office.

And there’s the rub. For too long have people taken advantage of the system, pushed the ethical lines, and besmirched the one-good-name of politics. Of course, you’d probably have to go back to Roman times to find the word ‘politics’ not associated with unseemly activities or professions.

A review of this country’s ethical guidelines when it comes to our leaders and lobbyists is probably long overdue — and more so a change needed in policy and law to ensure that politicians live up to them or face severe consequences.

Canadians, in general, do have access to their top politicians. Incidents of pies, headlocks and chocolate milk come to mind (and let’s hope that’s all that ever does).

And while party fundraisers seem to be standard operating procedure for all the nation’s  political parties, using public office to further those coffers should send up red flags to observers. It’s time politicians demonstrated how they can be better at ethics than many of us necessarily have to be.

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