JOHN DOWNS

Why alleged misappropriation of public funds has become a breath of fresh air

Posted By: John Downs · 2/7/2013 5:26:00 PM

It's been a bad streak for federal Conservatives. One senator is arrested and kicked out of caucus under a cloud of allegations. Another is seen scurrying through a hotel kitchen, refusing to answer questions over his work-related fiscal actions.

But the really notable news is that the scrutiny and criticism is coming from all sides, regardless of personal political leanings.

A refreshing pattern is emerging.

Incoming premier Kathleen Wynne knows the simmering anger over cancelled power plants is not going to go away, even though Dalton McGuinty has. Her predecessor’s excuse that they “got a couple of them wrong” was never going to leave the ground. Now it's Wynne who has no choice but to send out the search party for the doomed mission.

At the local level, both the mayor and a flip-flopping ally have been called to the mat over campaign finance issues. The mayor will likely get a slap on the wrist compared with Giorgio Mammoliti. While zealous opponents of the two orchestrated that witch hunt, it doesn’t make the actions any less serious.

And as the relationship between some Ontario teachers and parents continues to fray, there's good reason to be suspicious of whether the union leadership pulling the strings truly has the best interests of students and its members in mind.

We can (and always will) debate the merits of public spending – whether it's on the arts, transit or health care. The left is stereotyped for a tax-and-spend approach, while the right is seen as the champions of the 1%.

But what has begun to unite taxpayers of every stripe is intolerance of individuals breaking the rules for their own personal gain.

It is the behavior of individuals – left or right – that is being called out for an “in-it-for-themselves” mentality. This is a reminder that personal greed knows no political affiliation. And when we begin to recognize that unethical behavior is distinct from political viewpoints, we can begin to see the other parties as potentially differently minded, but working toward the same goals for our community, our province or our country.

The next step is for that same intolerance of selfishness to be called out from within the parties themselves. No more, “it's okay because it's my guy” passivity. That attitude can only be demonstrated by true party leaders willing to identify and remove the cancer before it has a chance to spread.

If similar types of malfeasance would get an employee turfed in the corporate world, why should misbehaving politicians be subject to anything less?

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