Are any politicians at any level working for the public?

Plain Rhetoric
By Bill McQuarrie
February 20, 2018 - 5:00am

KAMLOOPS — Am I being an irrational cynic when I say that with few exceptions, I can’t think of a politician, at any level of government, that I trust or know with certainty they truly are working on our behalf?

It’s not an uncommon feeling and may in fact be more the norm than the exception these days and that bothers me. As one reader put it to me a week or two ago, “When did the ideals born of a campaign disappear and when did they start forgetting that they work for us?”

For me, the unsavory and self-serving side of the business of politics raised its head again when newly elected BC Liberal Leader, Andrew Wilkinson declared during an interview that the first thing on his agenda was, “ drive the wedge between [NDP/BC Greens] and make sure they are more and more uncomfortable with each other and get ready for an election. That’s our job.”

I naively thought the job of those serving us was to govern on behalf of the people and our interests, not theirs. You know that old-fashioned and for some, obviously out-dated concept of for the people by the people.

Not according to Wilkinson though. His self-declared job is to try and grab power as soon as possible and at any cost and we the people of the province be damned.

And it is not just the BC Liberals. I watched Premier Horgan do his complete 180 on the Site C Dam and begin to dither on LNG.

Over in Ottawa we have Justin Trudeau who upon being elected immediately abandoned his election promise of proportional representation. Won’t work now or at least won’t work if you already have the power of a majority, thanks to the previously despised First Past The Post system.

Then there’s climate change, a major platform item of the Liberals yet just about all experts say Canada will not meet the 2020 or 2030 reduced greenhouse gas emission commitments the Liberals made in Paris.

Promises made to First Nations remain mostly unkept and veterans have to take the government to court to get the benefits they were promised.

Even locally, we find politicians ducking and dodging. Back in September, Councillor Singh took me to task over comments I made about the use of shopping carts by the homeless. He explained how he was tirelessly working with city staff and the RCMP to better understand the problem and to bring about immediate relief stating, “The solutions you are offering are already in the works”. That was five months ago and that is a long time for something that is in the works.

I know that some, including a few who would run for office are attracted by the money and benefits that come with the job.

Power is another one and in many cases can become more addictive than the money, and I’ve often wondered if limiting one’s stay in office to two terms would help. And maybe benefits, such as a full pension after serving approximately one and a half terms in office (provincial & federal seats) should be on the chopping block.

When running for office, candidates always point to the altruistic “serving and giving back to my community” as the key reasons for running. If true, then perhaps a reduction in pay, benefits and term wouldn’t come or even be seen as a hardship. After all, it is for the self-declared and honourably intentioned good of the community as opposed to personal gain. And at least locally, it is a part time instead of a full time gig, so it shouldn’t be that hard to let go after two terms.

Money, power, special interests and politics can become intoxicating. Has it become so intertwined and abused that the genie can never be put back in the bottle? What do you think, can the system as it now stands be better and if so how?