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A Question of Ethics: Canadians Speak Out, Revised Edition

A Question of Ethics    
Format Softcover
Catalogue No. 0-19-542444-1
Pages 255
Language English only
Price $19.95
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Written by Maureen Mancuso, Michael M. Atkinson, André Blais, Ian Greene and Neil Nevitte.
Published by Oxford University Press Canada, 2006.


Kickbacks and secret slush funds. Untendered contracts awarded for work that was never done. Millions of dollars that disappeared into the pockets of ad men with access to powerful politicians. These were the kinds of revelations that kept many Canadians riveted to their televisions in spring 2005 as witnesses appeared before the commission of inquiry chaired by Justice John Gomery. Sometimes governments fall because of scandals like these. But, curiously perhaps, sometimes they survive in spite of them. The fundamental issue of political ethics, as the authors of this pioneering study reveal, is the precise location of the boundary between right and wrong - or, at least, between what is acceptable and what is not.

In a sense, the Gomery inquiry embodies the official response to a series of ethical transgressions. But what is more important, especially to strategists in the major political parties, is how Canadians react. The official response and the public one may be two different things entirely.

The political scientists whose work forms the basis of A Question of Ethics explore four types of unethical behaviour: conflict of interest, gifts and gains, patronage, and lying. Based on interviews with more than 1,400 Canadians, this book maps public attitudes to these difficult issues. The result is a comprehensive picture of what Canadians expect of their public officials, from the kind of conduct they will tolerate, to the kind they feel discredits the system itself. These findings are crucial because, after all, it is Canadians - not commissioners - who will determine the fate of governments.

Revised and updated to include information on the Gomery inquiry, A Question of Ethics will appeal to anyone intrigued by the ethical pitfalls, dilemmas and choices inherent in political life.

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This page last modified: November 13, 2008

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