Sunday, June 16, 2013

Justin Trudeau raises the bar for MPs and Senators

A breath of fresh air in Ottawa
In a move that is refreshing, because it shows an MP who is willing to listen to criticism, and to rethink matters in the light of such criticism, Justin Trudeau has announced that he will work with charities to reach some solution satisfactory to both:

“Political leadership is about raising the bar on openness and transparency. Canadians faith in public office holders and politics has been seriously shaken in recent weeks by the ethics scandal rooted in a $90,000 payment by the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff to a sitting legislator, and the continued secrecy of the Harper Conservatives

As a Member of Parliament, as a Leadership Candidate, and now as Leader of my Party, I have taken every opportunity to raise the bar when it comes to openness and accountability. As a Member of Parliament, I proactively sought and rigorously followed advice from the Ethics Commissioner regarding my personal financial affairs. As a leadership candidate, I voluntarily disclosed the full value of my financial holdings, and my sources of income. As Leader of my Party, I made raising the bar on transparency and openness my first major policy announcement, so that Canadians can better hold their leaders accountable.

For me, transparency isn’t a slogan or a tactic; it’s a way of doing business. I trust Canadians. I value their opinions. And now that I’ve heard them, I’m going to act.

It is in this spirit that I have decided to reach out to all the organizations that hired me as a professional speaker while I was a Member of Parliament to engage with them to find a satisfactory solution. I am open to exploring all options with them to ensure that they are satisfied with the outcome.

I rigorously ensured that my professional income while serving as a Member of Parliament followed both the spirit and the letter of every rule governing Parliamentarians. However, I believe that leadership means setting a higher standard, not just meeting the existing one.

In short, Canadians hold me to a higher standard, as they should. I accept and endorse that expectation. I will continue to work hard to maintain it.
I seek to represent all Canadians as their Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister should raise the bar on openness and accountability, not simply meet it.”

Canadians will contrast Trudeau's willingness to raise the bar on openness and accountability with the reluctance of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to behave consistent with the conventions of our Parliamentary democracy.

Instead of stonewalling, Trudeau listened to the concerns voiced about the one charity that had not managed to raise money from the speaking engagement, all the way to the suggestion by Premier Brad Wall that MPs and Senators should not expect to be paid talking to Canadians about matters they were elected to Parliament to carry out.
PM Stephen Harper

Premier Wall's suggestion went beyond the current rules applied to MPs by the Ethics Commissioner, and Trudeau is to be commended for taking up Wall's suggestion to comply with a higher standard.

It is now up to all MPs and Senators to follow Trudeau's lead, and adopt the standard proposed by Premier Wall.

And, of course, it would be fitting for our current prime minister to endorse the Wall standard, and enforce it for government MPs and Senators.

What a breath of fresh air!

One way for the charities to respond to Trudeau's offer would be for him to speak at further fundraising events for them, without any payment, so that they may piggyback off his popularity and raise further funds for their good work.


  1. Why do I bother.June 16, 2013 12:22 pm

    I honestly do not know if Trudeau was looking for a political advantage here, or if he was acting out of a sense of honour. If it was the former, this is one of the most brilliant and cunning deflections I have seen in years. Trudeau will get wall to wall coverage for every charitable group he sista nd talks with. Some of them will repeat for the cameras that Trudeau spoke at an event that was a smashing success that raised a fortune for a worthy cause. Others will say they are so very glad that Trudea will help them out again with a free speaking engagement, and you can bet folding money that the Trudeau team will ensure that every event is a sell-out! Trudeau will earn huge publicity, and huge kudos from charitable causes left and right. Wow! Brilliant!

  2. Who cares if it is personal honour or political advantage. It IS brilliant. And I suspect if Trudeau had no honour he would not be offering transparency.

  3. It was bad optics for Trudeau, nothing more. That's why he did this.

  4. Why do I bother.June 16, 2013 5:23 pm

    Well his response was pretty darned good optics then. There was nothing wrong with how Trudeau earned the money in the first place, but every charity he does a do-over for is going to be gushing over him, and very publicly too!

  5. Thank you for your comments.

    I find his willingness to reconsider a position he adopted (one that complied with the requirements of the Ethics Commissioner), and to then go that one step more to be the kind of politician most people do not expect from our MPs any more - an adaptable, willing to learn, willing to forego financial advantage in the interests of remedying our democratic deficits through greater transparency and higher standards for elected officials - the most important lesson Canadians can learn from this man and this move.

    When last did an MP do something comparable?

  6. Why not email all sitting MPs and Senators and ask them if they will comply with the Wall-Trudeau level of transparency, by refusing to be paid for speaking engagements while they are sitting in Parliament representing Canadians?

    And would some like to start a Facebook page with photos of all MPs and Senators who agree to this higher standard, and of those who do not?

    Journalists could start the ball rolling by asking individual MPs and Senators if they will willingly adopt the higher standard, and report their responses.

  7. You bet! And it will be a win-win for Trudeau and those charities. And at the same time, the pressure is now on all MPs and Senators to clean up their acts in a similar way. Several birds with one stone, eh?

  8. Good for Justin, and a pox on the self-righteous, self-satisfied Cons (and Charlie Angus on this occasion). If the charity lost money it is because of their mismanagement, not the speaker's problem. Many, many charities pay much more money than that for celebrity speakers, but would only do so, if they had a realistic budget and good assurances that they would come out well ahead. I do not see how giving motivational speeches has anything to do with his Parliamentary obligations, which, as a plain MP, were to his riding constituants. As leader of the LP he now is reponsible to all Canadians and is no longer taking speaking engagements. How many of the Cons have real conflict of interest problems by sitting on boards etc.?

  9. Scott, it was kind of Photoshopped, using a FREE program named Photoscape. One of the features is called Filter, which allows different ways to treat photos. I used Filter, then Pictorialization and then Colored Pencil for Trudeau's picture. I recommend downloading Photoscape and playing with it - it works wonders with your darker photos (lightening them), and best of all saves you hundreds of dollars for the more expensive commercial programs.

  10. Fine bit of mental ju-jitsu going on here. Trudeau gets some bad publicity for taking large amounts of money from charities so he expediently decides to show how big he is, how flexible by paying some back and not admitting to any wrong and/or stupidity in doing it the first place and somehow you turn that around and use it to criticise Harper. Trudeau, in three years, took in 1.3 million dollars in this way.

  11. This Just in so to speak, doesn't look good on that hippy kid, poor judgement at best, a fool at worst.


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