Painful Truth: The comfort of small scandals

There is nothing quite as comforting right now as a small, traditional Canadian political scandal.

In case you missed this one, here’s a quick summary: Health Minister Jane Philpott has been using a pricey car service to get around town.

Not only is the service expensive (It uses Lexuses! Lexi? Luxury cars, anyway.) it is owned by a Liberal supporter. So money was flowing directly from the government to someone who contributed to help getting Philpott elected.

Shades of expensive orange juice!

There will now be recriminations. Money will be paid back (including for the Air Canada executive lounge membership Philpott also billed to the government) and statements of regret will be read and there will be promises to never, ever do this kind of thing again.

What’s comforting about this particular scandal?

Well there’s its relatively small nature. While we can’t have our politicians running around living in luxury at public expense, at least so far the luxury has only extended to four figures. It could have been much worse.

Consider the UK’s expenses scandal of not too long ago. The amounts were higher, the number of MPs involved was sizable.

There was also a degree of shamelessness that you wouldn’t think to associate with the Brits. One MP simply billed for “moat cleaning” and got away with it for years.

But it’s comforting on another level.

It’s familiar and understandable.

It’s wrong, of course, but it’s not hard to imagine ourselves, given access to an essentially blank cheque for travel going a bit bonkers. Even if you wouldn’t, you know friends or family who would be tempted. Fly in coach or upgrade to business class where there are fewer shrieking babies and your knees can move more than 0.7 degrees?

Finally, it seems like a minor problem compared to what most of the rest of the world is going through right now.

Brazil is dealing with a crisis that has unseated its prime minister along with broad corruption. Britain has no idea how to handle Brexit. The United States election… well, the less said, the better.

We have a lot of serious problems here in Canada, and we also have to deal with petty spending scandals when they crop up among our parliamentarians. But it could be worse. Just remember that it could be much, much worse.


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