Ethical politician shouldn’t be oxymoron

There was a time when cabinet ministers resigned their positions if questions were raised about their conduct.

There was a time when cabinet ministers resigned their positions if questions were raised about their conduct that had a whiff of truth to them. It’s become clear over the last few months that the moral obligation to do the right thing in B.C. is extinct.

It’s always been standard practice for the opposition to try to get a minister to resign, and most attempts have rightly failed. But when enough evidence builds, cabinet ministers should step aside until the issue is fully investigated.

To be fair, the multiculturalism minister resigned before John Dyble found that he had breached the Standards of Conduct. But, it’s not unreasonable to surmise that the premier herself was fully informed, engaged, and involved in the development of election-oriented activities that crossed the line between party politics and the public service. It’s willful blindness to believe otherwise.

Questions also abound about senior cabinet ministers. We’ve seen changes to liquor tax laws designed to favour political party donors; attempts to interfere in casino approval decisions; ministerial promises about government contracts; the inappropriate use of direct awards; and ministers participating in shady deals with foreign investors.

Any one of these situations should have been sufficient for the minister responsible to step aside, but when Premier Clark’s office is blurring the lines between party politics and the public service, it’s hard for her to demand a higher standard of moral behaviour from her cabinet.

We have a Conflict of Interest Commissioner in B.C., who recently recommended adding “an ethics and integrity dimension” to the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act, but acting ethically as a politician means more than keeping your private affairs separate from your duties. It means acting with integrity and honesty at all times, and we haven’t seen that this session.

We need an oversight commissioner with teeth, but what we really need are politicians who feel obligated to do the right thing.

Bob Simpson is the Independent MLA for Cariboo North.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Independent watchdog investigating Williams Lake RCMP

The IIO was called in by the RCMP after a man was pursued by police and injured in a motorbike crash

WildSafeBC hires new co-ordinator for Cariboo region

Mareike Moore said the main message is keeping wildlife wild, communities safe

City playgrounds to reopen today, June 1, at noon

Users are reminded to play by the rules and continue to follow physical distancing and hygiene

Mining Month: A celebration of dedication and resiliency

May is Mining Month, as proclaimed by the Province of B.C.

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Williams Lake Tribune continue its mission to provide trusted local news

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

B.C. NDP says Andrew Wilkinson is wrong about federal link

Parent, superintendent, trustee report smooth return to classrooms in B.C.

The biggest challenge is convincing families that it’s safe, some say

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Investigators probe death of CN employee at Surrey rail yard

Transportation Safety Board is investigating an ‘occurrence that took place during switching operations’

Trans Mountain starts B.C. leg of pipeline twinning project

Mostly finished in Alberta, Burnaby terminal expanding

Most Read