An apology from the provincial Liberal leader regarding the expense scandal involving MLAs is appreciated. Not only did Stephen McNeil offer the words sincerely, he also underlined the consequences of this saga: that it will be difficult for Nova Scotians to trust politicians.
As the legislature goes into its spring session, McNeil apologized for his party’s role in a loose set of rules that saw MLAs from all parties able to claim expenses on questionable items.
The apology – and Premier Darrell Dexter added one of his own – comes as the house sits to deliberate on the coming year’s budget, the central piece of money legislation of any government. What Nova Scotians are saying is, if we can’t trust them with the nickels and dimes of expense claims, how do we trust them with the big bucks of running a province for a year?
McNeil makes reference to what will be a tough job ahead – regaining trust. He said he wants to assure Nova Scotians that his party will focus on proposed legislation requiring members of the legislature to post their expenses online. In fact, Dexter said that will be his government’s first business after the throne speech Thursday.
We can only wish that such legislation had come before, and not in reaction to “getting caught.” But better late than not at all.
Many people want to believe the worst about politicians. Whether earned or not, the term “crook” gets tossed around pretty casually. The honest can, unfortunately, be tarred with the same brush as the dishonest.
This scandal was more than an incident. It was the course of typical activity over a number of years and, thankfully, it was finally uncovered in the auditor general’s report.
People won’t easily forget. On the other hand, it involved all parties, so it’s no simple matter of voting one out as a result.
If Nova Scotians are lucky, though, this kick in the posterior to the house will result in the most careful, prudent spending the likes of which an electorate has never seen before.