The View from Here – Some politicians believe that they are entitled to more than their entitlements

Tom Henihan

Express Staff



As leader of the Liberal Party and subsequently as Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau has acted with dispatch in dealing with certain improprieties by members of his party. However, when it comes to overindulgent politicians who live like rock stars on taxpayers’ money, his response has been less than decisive, even trite.
In spite of the number of documented instances regarding blatant excess by politicians, the matter still remains an area where politicians believe they can act with impunity.
It seems that when a politician and especially a minister treats Canadians with contempt by flagrant abuse of expenses, there is no moral imperative, there are no absolutes.
It conveniently remains a grey area where, if irregularities are flagged, the matter is deemed an innocent indiscretion that can be resolved by reimbursing the coffers.
It appears, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, that politicians can resist anything but temptation. It is discouraging to note that those elected or appointed to positions of responsibility so often lack the gravitas necessary to carry out those responsibilities with decorum and restraint.
Given an opportunity, many politicians quickly demonstrate their vanity and greed.
The recent issue regarding Health Minister Jane Philpott’s $1,700 limousine ride in March, is proof positive that politicians are still gaming the system.
Minister Philpott also demonstrated the largess of Canadian taxpayers by tipping $223. I wonder how much she would have tipped if it was coming off her own credit card.
Philpott also retained the same company, Executive Sedan Livery Service Inc. in July at a cost of $1,994 and for 20 trips to Pearson International Airport that cost a total of $3,815.
That the July trip was to speak at an Assembly of First Nations meeting in Niagara Falls is by association an affront, considering the poverty so many First Nations communities endure.
When the media published the limo story, apparently Minister Philpott had a revelation and admitted that a $1,700 limo ride is too expensive. If the matter had gone unnoticed, it is likely Philpott would never have gained that insight.
Another example of vain, mindless abuse of Canadian taxpayers is the Environment Minister Catherine McKenna hiring a professional photographer at the Paris climate summit.
In a time of the omnipresent camera, this expense is difficult to justify. However, Minister McKenna did just that by saying “Pictures are an important part of how we transmit our message, but we need to do it in a way that is mindful of taxpayers. Previous governments used photographers as well but we can do better and that’s something I’m committed to personally.”
Being mindful of taxpayers is something that appears to happen only in hindsight.
“We can do better and that is something I am committed to personally,” is a phrase from which I can derive no concise meaning.
Indeed, in politics the function of language is to obscure not elucidate. Words are nebulous as clouds to be construed depending on the prevailing winds, as Philpott and McKenna must have construed Trudeau’s mantra “sunny ways,” to mean that only glamorous times lay ahead for those elected to government.


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