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Bill Kelly: Does Canada’s federal government need an ethics watchdog ?

Click to play video: 'WE Charity controversy: Trudeau’s chief of staff ‘regrets’ he didn’t recuse himself' WE Charity controversy: Trudeau’s chief of staff ‘regrets’ he didn’t recuse himself
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's chief of staff Katie Telford testified on Thursday to the virtual House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance (FINA) regarding the WE Charity controversy, stating that like Trudeau, she "regrets" that he didn't recuse himself when selecting WE Charity to carry out the student grant program, and added that it "was not a choice between different organizations to deliver the program; this was a choice between going forward with the program or not." – Jul 30, 2020

Recent polling published in the Hill Times indicates that a majority of Canadians think Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should hire an “ethics and oversight” manager to vet government policies for potential conflicts of interest.

This, of course, was spawned by the fact that the PM is now undergoing his third go-round with the ethics commissioner, this time over the WE Charity fiasco.

READ MORE: Canadian charities worry about loss of trust, donation amid WE scandal

I’m not sure an ethics manager is the solution to what seems to be an ongoing problem.

The more germane question here is why none of the veteran politicians in the cabinet raised red flags about the WE decision.

Sole sourcing the contract, without inviting other bids, was wrong, and that in itself should have sparked a heated discussion around the cabinet table.

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That was bad enough, but when two cabinet members, namely the prime minister and the finance minister, who both had personal ties with WE Charity, chose not to recuse themselves from the decision, they elevated their misdeeds from “troubling” to “egregious.”

Click to play video: 'The timeline of Trudeau’s WE Charity controversy' The timeline of Trudeau’s WE Charity controversy
The timeline of Trudeau’s WE Charity controversy – Jul 30, 2020

Pure and simple, it was bad judgment, but they shouldn’t need an ethics manager to tell them that.

What they should be reminded of is that we, the people, expect and demand better behaviour and better judgment from our elected leaders.

Bill Kelly is the host of the Bill Kelly Show on Global News Radio 900 CHML.

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