Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Veterans Affairs Minister Jodie Wilson-Raybould attend a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. The Globe and Mail says former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould disappointed the Prime Minister’s Office by refusing to help SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal prosecution. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

EDITORIAL: Scandal shows government held to a high standard

Canadians expect ethical behaviour from those in elected office and in government roles

It’s difficult for Canadians to watch as the SNC-Lavalin scandal continues to unfold.

For the past several weeks, the story has unfolded as former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said she had come under pressure at the federal government level to halt a criminal prosecution against a Montreal-based engineering firm.

A scandal of this nature is a serious matter and Canadians are right to feel concern and anger as the story continues to unfold.

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But at the same time, the outcry also shows that Canadians are holding their government to a high standard.

Canadians are not always happy with the government of the day, and during every Prime Minister’s time in office, there are some who are angered and disgusted by the government’s direction or by specific decisions.

But at the end of the day, we expect a level of ethical behaviour from those who are in elected roles.

Leaders and elected officials who do not live up to this standard deserve to be called out for their behaviour once the facts are known.

For the most part, Canada does well in this regard.

According to the latest Corruption Perceptions Index, compiled by Transparency International, Canada was ranked ninth worldwide, tied with Luxembourg. Denmark, New Zealand and Finland were the top three countries on the list.

Those at the bottom included Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and North Korea. In these countries and others, a story such as the SNC-Lavalin scandal would not be considered unusual — or even newsworthy.

We expect good government and a high ethical standard from elected officials and public-sector departments. This is a sign of a healthy democracy, and it is something Canadians must never take lightly.

It is difficult to watch the SNC-Lavalin scandal as it unfolds. But if this matter did not cause concern, it would be a sign of a much bigger problem with our government.

— Black Press

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