Greedy, unethical, self-serving

The Conflict of Interest Act states that all elected officials must report any lawsuits against them. The law states that politicians have a fiduciary responsibility to declare conflicts of interest that put their personal or financial interest ahead of the public interest.
Peter Sandhu, an Edmonton MLA, elected Progressive Conservative and now sitting as an Independent, was under investigation by the Alberta’s Ethics Commissioner Neil Wilkinson.
As owner of a home building company, NewView Homes, Sandhu failed to disclose the six lawsuits that had been filed against him by contractors for unpaid invoices.
If that weren’t enough, Sandhu had persistently lobbied Service Alberta officials to make changes to the Builders’ Lien Act that would benefit his business.
Although Wilkinson found Sandhu breached the Conflicts of Interest Act many times, he chose to accept excuses and forgive, rather than administer the law.
“It was my lawyer’s bad advice.”  “I believed those lawsuits were soon to be settled.”  I wasn’t just helping my company, but all development companies”.  “I’ve learned my lesson.”
So Wilkinson let him off with no sanctions saying even though Sandhu “created an appearance of conflict of interest . . . it did not amount to an improper use of his office.”
Steve Young, PC government whip, said he was encouraged and any request by Sandhu to be reinstated to Caucus would be considered.
There is not a person alive that can be unbiased when their self-interest is involved. That’s why evangelist, Billy Graham, who turns 95 next month, is still a man of great integrity. He always made a point to never be involved in any financial decisions made by his organization, including decisions about his remuneration. He knew it was impossible to serve God and money.
The reason we have Conflict of Interest laws and “Ethics” Commissioners is to prevent elected officials from using their position for their own personal and financial benefit. Persistently twisting the arms of civil servants to change the law to the advantage of Sandhu’s company, irrespective of whether it helped other developers, is unethical.
Conflict of interest rules that are properly adhered to and administered give the public trust in their government. The laws try to ensure that to the best of their ability politicians are being fair to everyone. Even the appearance of conflict of interest undermines the public’s trust. Those contractors who are suing Sandhu for long-overdue invoices would not see Wilkinson’s ruling as fair or equitable.
The Ethics Commissioner’s job is not to help politicians learn from their mistakes. His job is to ensure that conflict-of-interest violators are sanctioned so that the public will have continued faith in their government.
Once faith in the integrity of government is gone, trust evaporates. That’s when the citizenry disengages from the political process believing that all politicians are corrupt!
There’s no question that the ethical compass of our current provincial government is very, very broken!  There is also no question that Ethics Commissioner, Neil Wilkinson, is unfit for the job.
Now, more than ever, we need an Ethics Commissioner that has the fortitude to aggressively police and pass tough judgment on those greedy, unethical, self-serving politicians who are far to prevalent today.

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