Gov. Gen. Julie Payette reads the speech from the throne in Ottawa on Dec. 5, 2019. She has recently resigned her role. (The Canadian Press)

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette reads the speech from the throne in Ottawa on Dec. 5, 2019. She has recently resigned her role. (The Canadian Press)

EDITORIAL: Government officials held to high standards

Recent incidents at federal level show Canadians expect much from those in government

A controversial Canadian senator has resigned her seat, a Conservative MP has been ousted from his party caucus and Canada’s governor-general has resigned from her role.

Sen. Lynn Beyak’s comments about residential schools had attracted controversy and others in the senate were calling for her expulsion.

MP Derek Sloan was removed from the Tory caucus after having received a $131 contribution from a white supremacist, but some of his earlier comments had come under fire in the past.

And Governor General Julie Payette resigned her position after a report criticizing the workplace culture at Rideau Hall.

READ ALSO: Lynn Beyak, who defended ‘good’ of residential schools, retires early from the Senate

READ ALSO: Conservative MP Derek Sloan ejected from party caucus

Any one of these three incidents would be disappointing. Watching all three at once has been devastating.

There is a level of behaviour expected from those in governing roles, and in each of these three cases, concerns were serious enough to draw unwanted attention to the people involved.

Those in governing roles have a responsibility to govern. In each of these cases, the controversy surrounding the individuals moved the focus away from governing.

And yet, at the same time, these three incidents show something positive about Canada’s political system.

Those in positions of authority, whether in the House of Commons, the Senate or the governor general’s role, are held to certain standards. When behaviour or comments are seen as inappropriate, action is taken.

Political parties in Canada set standards for themselves and will take measures to ensure these standards are being met by those in caucus. Party discipline can be harsh at times.

And the Canadian public expects a certain standard from those in the senate and from the governor general.

It would be far more concerning if accusations of inappropriate behaviour or offensive comments did not generate strong reactions from Canadians.

Such a lack of response would show the public had lost respect for its governing institutions. Fortunately Canadians still care about their government.

Canada’s government system works. Our leaders, elected officials and those in appointed roles are expected to speak and behave in a manner worthy of the roles they hold. And when they fail to meet those standards, the public is disappointed.

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