Mr. Speaker, I preface my remarks this evening with the comment that while noble, interesting, exciting and tremendously fulfilling, our work as members of Parliament is also challenging and stressful. If the actual content of our work was not enough, the sheer volume puts huge physical demands on us as we attempt to meet, balance and fulfill our work obligations in Ottawa, as well as in our ridings.
I can only imagine the additional pressures under which ministers must operate, so I approach the question of the behaviour of the Minister of Veterans Affairs at the Ottawa International Airport last month with both humility and, frankly, compassion. While my concern may seem personal, it is not meant at all in that way.
My concern is for a creeping illness that I think has taken over the government. Every government has a degree of “ministeritis” and that is a sense of inflated ego that happens with a swelling that seems to take place when people get appointed to cabinet. However, there seems to be a greater problem and I am going to call it “ministerialosis”.
“Ministerialosis” is part of that outrageous behaviour that we saw the Minister of State for the Status of Women participate in at the Charlottetown Airport last month. It includes the impulsive and somewhat demeaning behaviour of the Minister of Veterans Affairs in Ottawa. He was questioning the integrity of security staff.
However, “ministerialosis” is more than that. It actually is a failure of cabinet ministers to remember they are representatives of the Crown. They are part of the public service of this country dedicated to and offering themselves to public service, the very best of what we have to offer.
“Ministerialosis” has a sense of isolationism. It is the systematic arrogance of ministers to the Crown who have lost touch with common people. They sense that they are beyond the rules and above the law. They think that people no longer care about the truth or are not smart enough to know it when they are being misled.
They have the insatiable desire to hold on to power by politicizing everything that they do and by appealing to the lowest common values and characteristics among us. It demeans people. It is not what government is meant to be about. Public service is a noble calling.
The good news is that “ministerialosis” is actually a treatable disorder. Sometimes isolation is necessary. It may be that the Prime Minister needs to offer a hard pill that will be difficult to swallow. Sometimes it is a time out. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has failed in this matter of health as much as in other matters of health, but it is to his detriment, the detriment of the government, and the detriment of Canada.
Each of us come here as public servants and in the end all we have to offer is ourselves, our integrity, our best intentions. We need to rise up above the stress, rise beyond what is happening in our lives to offer the very best to the Crown, to the government, and the people of Canada.