Public displays of accountability - Macleans.ca

Public displays of accountability

Aaron Wherry on how the PM should begin the week

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Conservative MP Joan Crockatt celebrates this past week as a triumph for the Harper government.

Our govt has the highest ethical standards demonstrated by 3 resignations: 2 from Senate caucus & the PM chief of staff.

It’s a clear demo of accountability folks from some other parties could emulate. #liberals

Indeed. It is by precisely that measure that the Nixon administration is widely considered to be the most ethical in American history.

How might the Harper government demonstrate even higher ethical standards this week? The Prime Minister could start tomorrow by convening a news conference, at which he could stand and face at least a dozen questions from reporters. The Prime Minister’s Office could release any and all paperwork related to the agreement between Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy. The government’s leadership in the Senate could also appear publicly to face questions about their knowledge of the situation.

Conservative MPs could aid the government they support by demanding that Nigel Wright appear before a parliamentary committee and inviting Mike Duffy to do likewise.

Ms. Crockatt is right, in a way. Ensuring that certain consequences follow from questionable actions is part of being accountable. But so is fully and completely explaining the events in questions and opening oneself to public scrutiny.

Update 10:36pm. Ms. Crockatt would like to explain herself.

After a deluge of sarcastic comments from Twitter users — such as, “That’s like a criminal saying he has the highest ethical standards because he went to jail” — Crockatt told the Herald that her comment has been misinterpreted. When asked to clarify what she meant, Crockatt said, “That accepting the resignations was the right thing to do.”