Quid pro quo

With another round of floor-crosser rumour-mongering behind us, our Katie Engelhart considers what the Larry O’Brien trial means for the future of political favours.

“There is a warning out there,” says Errol Mendes, a professor of law at the University of Ottawa of the impact Cunningham’s decision might have on political life in Canada. He suggests lawyers will likely be advising MPs to be more cautious about the kinds of promises they make while striking deals. “Just the fact that [O’Brien] had to go through the allegations, the trial, etc.,” says Mendes, “those things alone should send a warning to people—don’t go anywhere near those sort of possible allegations.” Mendes hopes Cunningham’s “rap on the knuckle” will persuade politicians to be on their best behaviour in Ottawa. “The Canadian electorate is getting very tired and losing trust in politicians,” he says. “The most destructive impact of this is that it loosens trust in all democratic institutions.”

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