Egmont MP Gail Shea is worried.
She’s worried that the scandal surrounding the alleged fraudulent behaviour of Island Senator Mike Duffy and the resulting public relations disaster it has brought with it will further tarnish the reputations of all politicians – good and bad (there are lots of both) – unfairly.
She’s right to be worried.
Such a statement coming from a sitting politician at any level of government will make many people immediately scoff, as they already believe what she fears.
The damage is indeed done.
But it was done long before the Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau Senate expense scandals, which do nothing more than reinforce the point.
But the local MP’s worry is important. It may not be as important (at least in the short term) as what should happen after the scandals surrounding Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau, are sorted out; but it remains very important.
The public needs to realize that of the 308 MPs sitting in the House of Commons and the 105 other legislators in the Senate, not all are crooks, fraudsters, and egomaniacs. Some are honest and perhaps even hard working. Others might be honest but lazy, still more might be in over their head or just plain not good at the job. Some even excel at representing their constituents.
Shea doesn’t want everyone painted with the same brush and we agree. If we are to have a negative opinion of someone, or of their work, it should be based on them and their actions and of the government to which they belong, and not the actions of others.
We all carry responsibility and in the case of public officials there are even greater responsibilities. There are greater consequences for failing in those responsibilities.
Shea doesn’t want good people to shy away from the important role politicians play in shaping our country and its future.
Let’s hope that, despite all the negative feelings many in the public presently have of elected officials, that there are enough others with a strong moral compass and the intestinal fortitude to stick it out and prove that not all politicians are bad.
Even better though, and Shea herself could play a role in this, once elected, they could root out and expose on their own those who are breaking the rules or committing crimes, even if they are within their own political ranks.
The public would be more understanding if the misdeeds were actually recognized and dealt with before being exposed by a third party. The sentiment on Parliament Hill should be: ‘innocent until proven guilty’; not, ‘innocent until the public finds out.’