Friday, June 23, 2006

Ed Byrne - Just the Start

By way of disclosure, I have known many MHA's over the years from all sides of the House, a few of them very well going back 25 or more years. I've also come to know many members of the House of Assembly staff which provide the support and administrative services the MHA's and their staff need to do their job effectively.

Together, this group of elected officials and civil servants are as dedicated, honest, hardworking and ethical a group of people as you will find anywhere. The flip side is that, like any other group of people, some fail to meet those high standards of behavior and are vulnerable to those dark and common human frailties and weaknesses.

When I first heard the charges from the Auditor General alleging massive corruption and theft on the part of Ed Byrne and at least 3 other current or prior members of the House of Assembly I was appalled. I was appalled at the affrontery and premeditation over the extended period of time that this kind of theft requires.

I'm offended that the Internal Economy Commission (the internal committee of government and opposition members and Speaker which oversees House operations) was used as a shield to keep the AG out of the House financial affairs under the cover of protecting Member privileges.

Finally I'm disappointed at the AG's charge that some of the House staff had to be complicit in aiding and abetting these illegal activities.

This is the kind of behavior that paints all public officials in a bad light and brings the exercising the responsibilities of public office into disrepute. This betrayal of the public trust and looting of the public purse has to be vigorously investigated. My congratulations to the AG John Noseworthy in discovering this long-term pattern of malfeasance.

I, along with many in the province, await with trepidation the naming of the other MHA's involved. Chances are that they will be people I know or have known and that makes my trepidation that much worse.

According to reports, these MHA's come from all parties. That makes this a non-partisan issue and different in kind and scope from the standard government-opposition issues. Therefore, this has to be handled in a non-partisan manner.

Rather than the Premier taking this entire matter upon himself in the way that he has, I would have thought it would have been more appropriate for him to call in the other party leaders in the House (assuming they are also not involved) and working out a common approach to dealing with these rogue MHA's.

This scandal will harm all the parties in the House. It is the problem of all parties in the House because it is clearly rooted in all parties in the House. Therefore the solution must come from a common effort of all the parties.

I have no doubt we are just on the beginning of this road; my sympathies to Ed's family.

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