Thursday, October 24, 2013

Integrity is more than fear of looking bad

Finding myself agreeing with Andrew Coyne is an odd position to be in, and makes me doubt myself.
But anyway, I do find this part of his column interesting:
At the heart of it remains Wright’s mysterious decision to cut Duffy a cheque from his personal account: still unexplained, still inexplicable, and not only because of its apparent illegality.... Why risk so much for so seemingly little?... Somehow a number of people around the prime minister absorbed the idea that it was okay to break the law to make an embarrassing political problem go away. That’s deeply troubling, whatever he told them, or they him. 
And Tasha Kheiriddin also connects some of the dots:
And when the issue of integrity is at stake, they won’t hesitate to sacrifice one of their own. ... Maxime Bernier resigned from cabinet in disgrace in 2008 after leaving NATO documents at the home of his ex-girlfriend, who had been linked to organized-crime figures. ...Helena Guergis was turfed in 2010 on unspecified allegations regarding her conduct, fueled by news reports that her husband, former MP Rahim Jaffer, had consorted with con men and “busty hookers.” Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was hauled before a commission of inquiry in 2008 over his relationship with fraudster Karl-Heinz Schreiber.
Why did the Conservative government pick on these cases, while others [Bev Oda, Tony Clement] resulted in no penalties? Because while those matters involved errors in judgment, the Bernier/Guergis/Mulroney matters touched on seedy elements that some, at the time, alleged might involve criminal activity.
The Conservative base does not approve of seedy. No matter the guilt or innocence of those accused, the mere association with persons of ill repute is enough to tarnish their reputation.
. . . A threat to the party’s reputation in this area had to be neutralized — in this case (the story goes) by allegedly ordering Mr. Duffy to pay back money that the Senator originally was told he didn’t owe.
If the Harper Cons are actually so focused on how things look that they will do anything to avoid an appearance of dishonesty, then they are doomed.
Honesty is not based on a fear that someone is looking. Integrity is not something that can be achieved by purchase or persuasion. The Harper Cons cannot build an honourable government on a foundation of sand.

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