Musings From the Ethical Side of Life

By | April 20, 2016

Originally published as a column in NewsKamloops on Friday April 15, 2016. 

There is so much controversial political stuff (ethics pending) happening these days that it becomes hard to know which one to focus on first.

At the same time, the hills around Kamloops are dressing up in their charming albeit short-lived emerald green shimmery coats and that is a daily gift we are greeted by every day. A good reminder of a world worth fighting for.

Which brings me to the first issue that is as hot as the days to come and equally scary (29 degrees predicted for the beginning of next week.) The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal or TPP as we’ve all come to know it. Our premier is once again creating a stir (at least we know of it) with her unflinching desire to see the deal ratified. As if British Columbia and its citizens would benefit so much from it that it would be unethical to not do so. Instead, the opposite is true.

The pink shaded dreams that our premier is selling as she is pressing the federal government to ratify the deal include for example the creation of jobs, a promise that has its pink halo disputed by political analysts who have no corporate interests but are simply looking at the trade deal objectively, and saying Canada needs to return to the table and correct a few things.

Should the deal be ratified, we can see the efforts to address climate change and protect the environment being at the mercy of corporations, which, if history is any lesson, is anything but a good thing.

We can see public health and access to medicine threatened by patents involving big dollars and thus well-guarded by companies that can put a price on human life. Not a good thing at all.

A scary possible reality that concerns British Columbians may involve the multinational corporations gaining control over our natural resources. In short, there could be dispute settlement clauses that could see the province sued if provincial regulations obstruct corporate gain in any way. Enough to make most of us choke, right?

So one could logically wonder about the ethics of all of this. If the provincial government care about the citizens, the land and the future generations, shouldn’t there be a way to actually show it instead of displaying the opposite and with pride.

The LNG projects so garnished with inflated hopes and environmentally devastating are proof of it. Site C too. Much to be destroyed, little to be gained overall, and so, so much to be left to be desired in the realm of ethics. That ethics and leadership should go hand in hand is an understatement. As I said so many times, that should be the premise on which leaders are elected. That and true concern for people and land. Right.

If the provincial government gets a failing grade when it comes to securing an actual good deal for British Columbia, we can hope that the recently elected federal government will see to it. As per the promises during the election campaign, which our collective elephant memory still hangs onto.

Yet when it comes to ethics, it seems that our federal government has a black eye too. Care to guess? The $11 billion Saudi LAV deal. If human rights are not negotiable (they aren’t) then why do they become less important and easy to overlook when big money comes about?

Is it the money? Is it the big shadow that Saudi Arabia casts over some of the western world due to their oil (are we still there?), which makes our officials conveniently overlook all the human rights violations they perpetrate? Double standards are always a bad idea.

It’s the jobs, some would say. Weapons are not made for show and tell, we know that much, yet a country with a reputation like Saudi Arabia… it’s just not looking right for the well-behaved Canadians.

Still in the ethics department, a big one might be coming down the pipe (emphasis on might) should the Canada Revenue Agency answer the most uncomfortable question of why their secret deal with KPMG allowed the latter’s rich customers to avoid paying tax without fearing any future charges. Unethical and too unfair, more so when the Panama Papers delivered their own social injustice blow.

We can only hope that justice will be served. We can only hope that the values most of us talk about such as integrity, honesty, consideration for others and the land that feeds us all, will be the values that our government, federal and provincial, will bring forth when deciding our present and future. If ethics would matter the way it should, we’d have nothing to fear. And yet…

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