Leadership: A Christmas Wish
Leadership: A Christmas Wish
Politics and religion, those conversation that are off limits for dinner conversations at Christmas. Well at least the former. It’s a conversation that can ruin many a relationship. Hell, I had a neighbour when I was growing up that had a picture of a former Prime Minister on the wall. Not something I’d have, but then I’m not politically inclined.
When it comes to politics however, I can say I have personally known a few, solicited some for help for my farm, helped a few for their campaign. To those I nod my head, acknowledging that the following letter may not apply. For others however, once read, you know who you are. With luck, your ears will burn and you will hang your head.(Yes, I know that isn’t likely, but one could only hope.) Herein lies my Christmas wish for our political leaders.
You’ve all seen it of late, scandal after scandal. 2014 seemed to have more than it’s fare share of questionable acts perpetrated by our elected officials. Though sick now, Rob Ford is known around the world for his antics in office as the Mayor of Toronto, Canada’s largest city. At the provincial level in Ontario, we have the gas plants that lost a boatload of money to move from one location to another. And the lies told to cover it up and then the money spent to cover that up. Can you imagine? It is alleged that our provincial government spent money to erase computers that held evidence of wrongdoings. It is even alleged that our previous and current Premiers were somehow connected.
At the federal level there is currently a campaign to determine who paid some of our Prime Minister’s campaign costs in the last federal election as his conviction for fighting climate change wanes. Furthermore, we consistently have federal ministers in the news with questions of election expenses not to mention the senators who are currently in hot water over the inappropriate expenses they have claimed as well as the implication that one of the Prime Minister’s legal aids actually paid off one senator’s invalid claims.
But then at what level must we take responsibility for our politicians. I’m not saying we have to coddle them like children, but the images of them screaming at each other during question period or politicking around disasters… no, the government didn’t save the world from Sars or Ebola, but boy you’d think they were on the front lines handing out bottled water or looking through microscope lenses.
Years ago when mad cow disease closed the boarder to Canadian beef, the government swooshed in with a flare and told everyone how they were going to bail out the farming industry. The cheques started to roll in with gold plated ink, but then the insurance program that the farmers were already a part of by paying premiums ratcheted back the payouts by the amounts the government had paid. Yes, all those promises of saving the industry were flat in the pan and amounted only to a getting funds a few months before the insurance programs would normally trigger. Farms still went bankrupt from the disaster that not being able to sell their product causes. In fact, because of the politicking and photo ops, the farmers plight was worsened because no truly viable alternative for sustainability was explored when the country’s citizens believed the situation fixed.
Farming isn’t the only thing that our elected leaders play the big fish game with. Yes you caught a fish that was THIS big honourable ma’am or sir. You tell the public you will give a million dollars to something as if it’s new money and yet half of that was already slated through other programs. You make every opportunity a photo op and yet you don’t realize the damage it does to your constituents.
Isn’t it time that politicking took a back seat to doing the right thing? Don’t make it about what you did for society today. In fact don’t use my money to tell me what you did today. You were elected. I expect you to do those things as your job. If I knew you would need a pat on the back every time you did something for the work you are paid to do then I would have hired someone else.
I’m not sure what it’s like in other countries, but here in Canada, our federal members of Parliament qualify for full pension after six years of service. Full. North of $100,000 a year. In Ontario our provincial members of parliament may not get a pension like other provinces, but they are given severance packages when they leave. I have heard of only one politician on the federal side actually donating their federal income to charity.
Elected politicians are sent to Ottawa or Toronto as a member of their party. They were first elected to their local party riding as a representative long before their community elected them to the government. That said, I can appreciate that there are times when you cannot agree with your leader and in Canada we have the freedom of speech such that it is you right, nae, your responsibility to say something when your leader fails to do their own duty. When such things happen, I can see a member of parliament (MP) or member of provincial parliament (MPP) moving to sit as an independent, however to cross the floor to sit with another party is a betrayal to your party, your riding and to the people who elected you. As a result of leaving ones party, should there not be an immediate election call for your riding? Are you not going to your real boss, the people, and quitting? If you want to run for the other team. Be my guest, but don’t say you are doing the will of the people, they only tell you that at election time. Want to be vindicated in your decision? Sit as an independent until next election. The people will tell you whether you’ve done the right thing.
Anyone with children can tell you how irritating squabbling over something inconsequential can be. Politicians take that concept to a whole new level. It’s like they’ve forgotten who they are. They punch in like Wile E Coyote (Ralph Wolf) and Sam Sheepdog. Outside of work everyone can play nice, but within those vaulted halls… work suits on, claws out.
We teach our children to have discussions. We tell everyone that bullying and badgering is unacceptable. We ask people to use inside voices and not to call names. Why haven’t you learned that lesson yet?
For our country to remain sustainable we have to have a robust government. The way I see it, we need a little more responsibility at the top to achieve that. Honesty and integrity might help a little too. My Christmas wish for our government officials this year is this: we need you, but more importantly, we need you to grow up.