Dermod: Xavier – come here this instant!
Xavier: Papa, you’re home early!
D: Your principal called, Xavier, pulled me out of question period and just when I was finally wiping that little smirk off Scheer’s face that he’s been wearing for the last two months.
We need to have a father-son chat.
I need a second, though, to get the right tone. Maybe my “I’m conveniently, but unexpectedly crashing your wedding photo shoot” voice? No, not that one. Maybe my “selfie with insert face of adoring Canadian with me life’s a peach” tone? Nope, lacks gravitas.
Ahh, got it. I’ll go with my lectern-lecture voice. Canadians like that one. Gerald Butts told me it reminds them of being in elementary school with a substitute teacher. At least that’s what the focus groups said.
Whatever became of Butts, I wonder? Never mind.
D: Your principal told me that you offered someone your lunch today if they would vote for you as class president, the lunch your mother made for you last night?
X: Yes, papa.
D: Xavier, that’s a bribe. Bribes are against the law. You’re trying to get someone to do something they might not otherwise do by giving them a personal benefit for doing so. You can go to jail for bribing someone.
It’s about the rule of law, son, and in Canada we respect the rule of law, even when it’s inconvenient.
It’s like that woman we arrested at the Vancouver airport at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice last December.
We knew the Chinese government would be mad, just didn’t quite realize how mad, but I’m sure we’ll get those two Canadians out of jail and besides everyone loves cannoli. Or maybe Katie Telford said canola. Canola, canolli, six of one, half a dozen of the other.
If we didn’t arrest that woman, it would fly in the face of the rule of law and our allies might begin to ask themselves how much confidence they could have in Canada.
People’s faith in our justice system would begin to slip away and that’s a far greater price to pay.
The rule of law must always trump partisan interests.
X: But papa what about SNL-Lavalin?
D: SNC, Xavier, not SNL and SNC is different.
As you get older, you’ll appreciate that sometimes you need to bend – no, that’s not the right word – shape, that’s it, shape the rule of law for political purposes, I mean the public good.
X: Like for jobs, papa?
D: That’s right, Xavier, and while there’s a bit of confusion over the number of jobs that might be lost, my advisors tell me it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s somewhere between one and 9,600.
X: But our civics teacher says the deferred prosecution legislation doesn’t allow jobs to be considered as a factor by the director of public prosecutions in making their decision.
D: Yes, but your civics teacher isn’t the prime minister of Canada – who represents a Montreal-area riding as well – or one of 176 other MPs hoping that all of this gets swept under the carpet by the election this fall, is she?
But this is about you son. You know I’m going to have to punish you for this. There need to be very real consequences for your behaviour.
If there were no consequences you would be telling all your classmates that it’s O.K. to bribe someone. You wouldn’t want to do that, would you?
X: No, papa.
D: You’re grounded for 10 days. It’s important to send a message to Ella-Grace and Hadrien that there are real consequences for bad behaviour. You can go to your room now.
X: I want mama to speak to you.
D: Mama can’t lobby on your behalf, son. First, she’s not registered as a lobbyist and that’s already caused some ripples for me with my close friend the Aga Khan.
Besides, mama and I have already spoken privately about this and we both feel 10-days is the right deal, I mean punishment.
X: After Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott quit my civics teacher says that you’re just a feminist for political convenience.
D: Go to your room, Xavier.
Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC. www.integritybc.ca