Legally speaking, Mike Duffy is probably entitled to his back pay and some damages from the federal government. But this is about more than the law. It’s also about honour and service.
Technically, Duffy might have been able to collect thousands of dollars in expense money for his home in Ottawa, his personal trainer and other costs. But he didn’t have to claim it.
Many people who are called to public service act as custodians of a trust. They put the public’s interest ahead of their own. They respect taxpayers’ money and they don’t strive to collect every single penny to which they might be entitled – just as the CEO of a charity that serves the poor might decide not to run up a big expense bill, even it’s within the rules, or sue the charity when that would just take money away from the people who need it most.
It comes down to a simple question: did you go into public service to actually serve the public, or to amass what you feel you’re owed by Canadians, to improve your own place in life? Just because you can collect expense money, just because you can cash in on a big lawsuit, doesn’t mean you have to.