Contrition?

In the past week I have written three posts about the SNC-Lavalin scandal – and you have seen none of them. This is number four.

Things have been changing so rapidly that whatever I write seems to be out of date by the time I finish it, so I have refrained from posting. Today though is different. Today I am going to talk language, not scandal. Because words are important.

March has been a disaster so far for Canada’s Liberal government. Resignations from two cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister’s principal secretary (and college buddy) have shocked the country as allegations of improper behavior continue. Things have gotten so bad that the Prime Minister canceled an appearance at a party fundraiser in Regina and flew back (or should that be fled back) to Ottawa to huddle with his advisors. (My understanding is he’d never listened to them before; I wonder if he will this time.)

Media reports said one of the possibilities was a “statement of contrition.” If that’s a new term for you, as it was for me, it is a fancy way of offering an apology.

If so, it comes a few weeks too late, and Canadians will be forgiven if they doubt its sincerity. It isn’t as if we haven’t heard this song sung before by this Prime Minister. He will say that he apparently has done wrong, though he didn’t intend to. He will say Canadians expect and deserve better from their leaders. He will say he will do better. He knows the words – he has said them before, when the Ethics Commissioner found he had acted improperly, but he doesn’t seem to have learned any lessons.

As a Christian, I know we are called to forgive, but where is repentance in this equation, a turning away from that which is wrong and a straightening of the path forward to do what is right? Forgiveness is only part of the equation here. An apology born out of political expediency may be less contrition than an attempt to reverse falling poll numbers.

Given his track record, how can I believe that the man is sincere this time? I want to have faith in our leaders, even if I disagree with their policies. I hope their actions have more behind them than self-interest. I wish them to be people of integrity, striving to do what is right, as opposed to what will get them the most votes.

I am not a cynic. I believe our leaders all have the potential to govern wisely and with integrity.

Prime Minister Selfie may not have managed that in the past. Let us hope he can start now. If he asks for forgiveness I am willing to extend it. I just hope to see repentance along with it.

That would be good for the country – and for him personally.

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