In 1867 Canada was born as a new nation dedicated to promoting 'peace, order, and good government'. For about one hundred years we seem to have been pretty satisfied with our performance. In the past thirty, however, even though we seem to have held onto the first two ideals, there has been anever-growing suspicion that the third is slipping away from us. The discovery of new depths in public cynicism about politicians and politics is no longer news. We don't seem to trust the people we elect to run our governments, and we only vote for them because the alternatives seem even worse. Thatis, if we bother to vote at all. In A Question of Ethics, the authors went directly to the public in a broad-based survey to try and map out more precisely the contours of acceptability in political behaviour. Chapter One discusses the basic concepts and principles of political ethics and includes ethical rules, such as they are,that apply to public officials in Canada. Chapter Two expands on this background and lays out the methodological and analytical framework that guides the rest of the book. The next four chapters examine in detail a particular type of problematic political behaviour. In Chapter Three, the authorsjump directly into the murky and confusing waters of 'Conflict of Interest'. Chapter Four examines 'Gifts and Gains', Chapter Five covers 'Patronage', and Chapter Six covers 'Lying'. In each chapter the authors look at examples of each behaviour, the forces that pressure officials to indulge in or avoid them, and arguments that have been made to defend or rationalize their use. What will emerge from these discussions and some concluding thoughts is a better understanding of howour fellow Canadians feel about political ethics, and how those feelings apply in specific areas.
Maureen Mancuso, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Guelph. Michael Atkinson, Department of Political Science, University of Saskatchewan. Andre Blais, Department of Political Science, Universite de Montreal.
"A Question of Ethics presents a substantial contribution to the ethics literature on Canadian government and points the way for similar studies in other countries." Canadian Journal of Political Science