The Maple Leaf
Vol. 15, Issue 06
Ethically speaking, what would you do?
It’s only a hotdog
“Colonel Barbeau, it’s great to see you again!” says Stan Pritchard. “Congratulations on your promotion and getting this posting.”
“Great to see you too, Stan,” Col Stéphane Barbeau replies. “How’s business going these days?”
“It’s booming! We got a lot of visibility at the air show last fall,” Stan says. “Hey, have you got a minute? Let me buy you a coffee, Stéphane. I have an idea I want to run by you.”
Col Barbeau is the wing commander of a very active Air Force wing. Stan Pritchard is an executive at a large company that provides maintenance services to a number of Canadian Forces air fleets. They met at a chamber of commerce luncheon last year, when Stan gave a presentation on the local and regional benefits of buying services from Canadian companies.
“Sure, Stan. I have a few minutes before I have to head back to work,” says Col Barbeau. “What’s on your mind?”
“Well, Stéphane, you have several thousand people working and living at your base, and I noticed that you hold a Family Day BBQ every June,” Stan says. “I’ve been thinking about how we could contribute to that event. We’d love to provide the hotdogs and hamburgers to the crowd – and a small display highlighting the work we do for the Air Force. We’ve been partners for many years! It gives us a chance to build a stronger relationship with those who serve our country. Absolutely no cost to the Crown. What do you think?”
“That’s a pretty generous offer, Stan,” Col Barbeau responds. “The folks at the wing always appreciate the special day for the family, and the public recognition. They work really hard and their families stand behind them. So we like to do as much as possible for the wing family day. Let me get back to you. Thanks for the coffee, Stan. Nice to see you again.”
The following week, Col Barbeau is reviewing the op order for the wing family day and remembers his recent conversation with Stan Pritchard, and his offer of free hotdogs and burgers at the upcoming event. It certainly seems like a win-win situation: free food for his members and their families at no cost to the taxpayer. But he feels a little uneasy about something. He decides to consult his wing administration officer.
“Sir, we’ve accepted donations like this from local companies in the past for wing events – it’s really a great way to foster our relationship with the local community. Just hotdogs and hamburgers. No problem,” the admin officer advises.
Col Barbeau still feels uneasy. Although he has not personally had much experience with contracting service between the CF and private companies, he wonders, “Now that I’m the wing commander, is Stan expecting anything in return for his company’s generosity?”
From a Defence Ethics point of view, what are your thoughts on this situation? In your opinion, what should Col Barbeau do?
Send your comments, and suggestions for future ethics scenarios (anonymously, at your request), to firstname.lastname@example.org.