Paris and Lise

Both operated out of a sense of entitlement acquired over the years

L'affaire Lise Thibault

Throw her in jail. Make an example of her, to show her and reassure ourselves that nobody is above the law.
I'm referring, of course, to Lise Thibault, Quebec's former lieutenant-governor. Why, who did you think I meant?
Oh, her. Well, the difference between her and Thibault is that Paris Hilton has actually been convicted of something in a court of law.
But, come to think of it, there are certain similarities between them.
Both were known to begin with, not for any personal accomplishment but rather for holding positions associated with hereditary privilege and, therefore, resented by some as useless parasites. Hilton is a playgirl heiress, and Thibault, as the queen's representative in Quebec, was one figurehead representing another.
They then went on to incur public disdain by flouting conventions that apply to the less fortunate, out of a sense of entitlement acquired over years.
And when they finally ended up in trouble over the kind of behaviour that had long been tolerated, they seemed understandably clueless as to why.
"It isn't right," Hilton sobbed in bewilderment as she was led off to jail for ignoring a previous court order. (She might have a point, since some legal experts believe she has been punished more severely than is usual in such cases.)
And after Thibault was criticized for questionable expenditures of public funds on, among other things, Florida golf vacations for herself, she self-pityingly implied she was being attacked for trying to inspire other physically handicapped people.
No, Madame Thibault, that's not it.
The $700,000 in expenses over 10 years she could not justify to the federal and Quebec auditors-general is chump change compared to the $100 million paid to advertising agencies for little or no work in the sponsorship scandal.
And on the day the auditors-general released their reports, La Presse used the word "chaos" to describe the situation in Montreal emergency wards, despite all the millions that have been spent addressing that problem over the years.
But it's easier to form an opinion about the relatively small stuff, like Hilton's driving while her licence is suspended or Thibault's spending $12,000 on a one-day fishing trip to the Gaspe, and to assess blame.
And there's one more similarity between Hilton and Thibault: Neither acted entirely alone. Both had enablers who encouraged the kind of behaviour for which they now are condemned by tolerating it.
Hilton is a monster child created by her parents, the product of the upbringing she received - or perhaps more accurately, didn't receive - from them. And Thibault's self-indulgent use of public funds was ignored or even approved by the federal and Quebec governments that provided them, over a period of 10 years.
So it's not surprising if Thibault reacted as a driver does when she passes a Surete du Quebec patrol car at 15 kilometres an hour over the speed limit without being pulled over: by assuming that what she was doing was tolerated.
In her defence, Thibault said some of the $700,000 in expenses she could not justify were approved by the federal government, while the rest were made in accordance with practices of lieutenant-governors in other provinces.
And both auditors-general said the two governments had not exercised adequate control over her spending.
Yet they identified none of the ministers or civil servants who had been negligent. Her name was the only name that appeared in their reports and her photo the only one on the next day's front pages.
And even amid all the talk of accountability on the day when the reports were released, bucks were still being passed.
The minister responsible for the budget provided to the lieutenant-governor by the Quebec government is none other than the premier. But the government's reaction to the reports was delivered instead by Benoit Pelletier, the minister responsible for Canadian intergovernmental affairs.
The subliminal message was that this was Ottawa's fault.

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