I’ve got some hard things to say, so let’s get a couple of things straight before I say them.
First, I am not writing out of partisanship. I have voted Red, Blue, and Orange in various elections, and I can imagine someday voting Green (or Blue-White-and-Red, if I have the PPC colours correct).
Second, I applaud the prime minister’s vaunted concern for reconciliation with aboriginal peoples and for elevating the status of women in Canada. I don’t care, and I cannot possibly know, how deep in his heart run these concerns. They matter to me, and I’m glad our prime minister has placed priority on them.
I do not, therefore, leap onto the bandwagon of those who cry, “Hypocrisy!” at Justin Trudeau because of the SNC-Lavalin affair and the bad treatment of his one-time Justice Minister and star cabinet member Jody Wilson-Raybould. Trudeau might be a hypocrite, but to judge him as such requires a confidence about his heart that I cannot presume.
I want to invoke a different category: Bribery.
I’m neither a lawyer nor a legislator. It seems to me, however, that if a government decides to include in its criminal code a provision for a person or a corporation to pay a fine rather than undergo a messy trial and then incarceration, that can be perfectly reasonable. When instead a corporation’s officers lobby a government to change the law so that they can pay a fine (to the government) rather than undergo a messy trial and then incarceration, that is something else.
If I’m stopped for a traffic violation in a small town, and the local cop who arrests me says I’m going to spend the night in jail, and I offer to pay the town a fee to avoid imprisonment, what would you call what I’m offering? A donation?
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