Politiicans travel; shed ethics as they go

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Having witnessed what I hope is the absolute nadir of politicians behaving badly in the U.S. last week, I will turn my attention to Canadian politicians, of all parties, who made some pretty dumb decisions themselves.

By now you’ve all heard that many politicians, both federal and provincial, blatantly ignored the advice of their own governments and travelled over the holidays. Most travelled south to work on their tans, some went to Vegas to do whatever one does in Vegas — I’ve heard whatever happens there stays there, so I wouldn’t know for sure.

Perhaps we should ask Calgary-Peigan MLA Tanya Fir, who travelled to Las Vegas over the holidays.

A particularly amusing, or ironic, case is that of Ontario MP David Sweet, who reportedly travelled to the United States over the holidays to deal with a property issue but then decided to stay to catch some rays. The amusing part is that Sweet is chair of the House of Commons Ethics Committee.

After his travel was discovered he suddenly decided that he will not run in the next federal election, likely this year, because he wants to spend more time with his family. Sure. My eyeballs are literally spinning in their orbits right now.

So far there are over 14 politicos who travelled abroad, and most of them have either been asked to resign or at least been stripped of committee duties or cabinet positions. They come from all parties, and some had not even returned to Canada yet to face the music.

Party leaders from Jason Kenney in Alberta, to Doug Ford in Ontario, to Erin O’Toole, Jagmeet Singh and Justin Trudeau, federally, all denied advance knowledge of the travels of their caucus members.

Some, such as Kenney, said they should have made it more clear to party members that non-essential travel would be frowned upon, before he then fired them and/or stripped them of positions as outrage mounted.

But come on. You’re an elected official, and with that comes some responsibility. You’d have to be pretty thick to not understand that travelling while at the same time asking your constituents to stay home was hypocritical, if not just plain stupid.

And Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips went the extra mile, disingenuously timing social media posts that kinda, sorta made it appear he was still in Ontario while he was away. He has been asked to resign, which he did.

What all this means is that parties are losing a lot of talent at the committee and cabinet levels. Despite their obviously flawed ethics, these people must have had some skills, and party leaders will now have to scour their caucus to find replacements.

But even worse, it means that getting the message across to Canadians that they must abide by the guidelines set by provincial and federal governments has become so much more difficult.

To have sat home alone at Christmas, missing your family, and then to see people you voted into office blithely ignoring their own guidelines is galling to say the least.

It’s a bad, bad look.

And it leads to people having internal conversations with themselves. I’ll just go. I’ll be careful. No one will know. Besides, my MP travelled.

Thanks a lot travelling politicians. You really helped make a bad situation much worse.

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