The whole idea of having an ethics commissioner was to hold the government to a higher standard of behaviour. Instead, the office has become a convenient form of political cover for MPs and cabinet ministers, allowing them to get away with mediocre conduct or worse.
Before the office was created, the accountability for ethical decisions rested with the prime minister. And if Canadians didn’t like the behaviour of their government, they could voice their displeasure at the ballot box. The position of commissioner was created to establish an independent voice on these issues. The result, unfortunately, is a shift in accountability away from the politicians. And instead of a high standard of behaviour, the threshold is now much lower.
In place of accountability and principles, we now have people hiding behind the ethics office, pretending that because they haven’t technically broken any rules, they’re angels. The ethics commissioner said it was okay! We should demand more from our leaders than just following the letter of often poorly crafted regulations. Let’s get rid of the ethics office and get back to having politicians accountable to us for their behaviour.