“A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.”
— Albert Camus, French author, journalist, philosopher (1913-1960)
So many political scandals, so little time. It seems all we’ve heard from the political realm lately is naughty bits — senators who don’t know where they live or how to claim only those expenses to which they are entitled; a federal party leader who thinks women will only be interested in political discussion if it’s framed as “ladies’ night”; the human train wreck that is Rob Ford.
Toronto’s mayor says (and does) the darndest things. Unfortunately, it’s too late to have Rob Ford sign a code of conduct. — Photo by Chris Young/The Canadian Press
Reading the news can leave you feeling covered in a fine layer of scum and needing a shower. Or, in case of the continuing Rob Ford saga, like you’ve been rolling in fetid muck. (As my husband cattily noted the other night: poor Toronto, they’ve got the Leafs and Rob Ford to contend with.)
So, what’s an honest, law-abiding politician to do to rid themselves of the stigma foisted on them by their ne’er-do-well fellows? It’s got to be a tough sell these days on the door-knocking circuit: vote for me — I’m honest. Honest!
You’ve got to feel for those stragglers still plodding along on the high road.
Well, I’ve got a simple idea that might just solve the problem: have politicians and political candidates sign a code of conduct and make them stick to it.
Failure to do so would result in automatic recall — no debate, no discussion, no clemency. It would work at all three levels of government — municipal, provincial and federal.
The code would go something like this:
I, (insert name here) the undersigned, solemnly swear that as your elected representative in the ward/district/riding of (insert geographical region here) I will not do the following during my term of office:
‰ take taxpayers’ money that I am not entitled to;
‰ vow to clear my name when accused of something and then acknowledge my guilt;
‰ fall asleep while the legislature/council is in session;
‰ commit a crime;
‰ sext lewd pictures of myself;
‰ be an unbridled sycophant;
‰ claim a housing allowance for what is actually my primary residence;
‰ pad online survey questions or stack call-in radio shows;
‰ use taxpayers’ money to adorn my walls with art/fill my wine cellar/build a moat or fancy gazebo/buy rounds of drinks at the parish hall/buy a boat, flat-screen TV, Ski-Doo, cologne, clothing
or accessories; invest in a flimsy-ring-and-fridge-magnet consortium;
‰ consort with prostitutes and drug dealers, unless my day job is as an undercover police officer;
‰ use sexual innuendo to appeal to “the ladies” in an effort to stimulate serious political discussion among women;
‰ wear a wetsuit for a photo-op;
‰ assault protesters;
‰ assault anyone;
‰ spend time on vacation in Florida instead of showing up for meetings and stuff;
‰ be drunk on the job;
‰ drink and drive;
‰ dial and drive;
‰ text and drive;
‰ drink and call in to a radio talk show;
‰ drink vodka behind a school house;
‰ give constituents the finger;
‰ succumb to the temptation of the Savoy’s room-service menu;
‰ succumb to the temptation of the Savoy;
‰ smirk and say, “You betcha!” in response to reporters’ questions;
‰ call journalists “bitches” on Twitter;
‰ call up columnists and scream into the phone, “You’re an arsehole!”;
‰ tell reporters pursuing a legitimate story, “There’s no story here!”
‰ accept mysterious cheques or cash in paper bags;
‰ thwart legitimate government projects for political gain;
‰ gloat about stiffing public servants in contract negotiations;
‰ plan a provincial budget
based on precarious commodity prices;
‰ model clothing on a catwalk;
‰ blame my staff for accepting illegal donations to my campaign;
‰ offer oral sex to a staffer;
‰ utter dysphemisms about having oral sex with a woman at a news conference;
‰ talk into a microphone about oral sex, period;
‰ harass the homeless;
‰ tell panhandlers to “get a job!”
‰ manhandle an elected colleague to the floor;
‰ tell government employees they should all be shot;
‰ make geographical blunders about my own province;
‰ pose for pictures while in a drunken stupor;
‰ misconstrue the meaning of the word “ayatollah”;
‰ make up words;
• stab my leader in the back (literally or figuratively);
‰ vow to kill, sell, destroy and burn six million seals (in no particular order);
‰ say of cyclists killed in traffic “It’s their own fault at the end of the day”;
‰ say “at the end of the day”;
‰ tell New Yorkers how much Newfoundlanders like to fish and
‰ utter racist, sexist or homophobic epithets;
‰ dismiss someone who disagrees with my philosophy as siding with the child-molesters;
‰ call someone “a waste of skin”;
‰ commandeer public transit for my private use;
‰ declare “war” on someone;
‰ compare myself to Kuwait;
‰ smoke crack cocaine and stuff.
Yep — that just about does it.
Think you can handle it?
Pam Frampton is a columnist and The Telegram’s associate managing editor. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.