Promises, promises and more promises

Ever notice how a sitting political leader’s most attractive pledges never actually kick in until well after he or she is out of office? Brian Gallant now promises to revamp the way votes are tallied in New Brunswick. But that won’t happen until well after the next provincial election. The same scenario works to mete out Justin Trudeau’s campaign vows to reform accountability in national politics. In other words: Nothing’s going to happen any time soon.

As always, it’s easy to make promises when it’s unlikely you’ll be around to pay the bill. Then, of course, fancy vacations paid for by fancy friends in fancy locations simply rise to social media’s archly inarticulate level of scrutiny. Those few who still operate as edited, responsible, mainstream journalists – the ones who want to dig – are simply dismissed.

We have entered a new era of deficit in New Brunswick, in this Atlantic region, in this country. And it’s not about money. It’s about faith in our public institutions and in those who we have trusted to uphold them.

People in the Atlantic region of this country have rarely been as politically engaged as they have over the past year. Old folks, youngsters, Francophones, First Nations’ members, environmentalists, veterans of wars, veterans of poverty and abuse. Yet, the extraordinarily large numbers of platitudes politicians now issue mute their reasonable voices.

We are drowning in pledges, platitudes, promises and campaign pabulum.

Like this, from federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau:

“As Canadians come together to celebrate Canada 150, we proudly reflect on the generations that came before us. Generations that built a country on the belief that with hope and hard work, they could deliver a better future for themselves, and for their kids and grandkids. That optimism – and that confidence – helped define us as a country. Sharing those beliefs with others made Canada a beacon of diversity, openness, and generosity around the world. Yet, over the last few decades, the middle class and those working hard to join it have fallen behind. Everyday folks who work hard to provide for their families are worried about the future.”

Still, almost every single social initiative – from providing promised funding for affordable housing to early childhood education and daycare – designed for provinces and municipalities will only ‘grandfather’ long after the next federal election, at which point a new kid might very well be in town (Ottawa, that is).

Then, there’s this from Mr. Gallant, courtesy of a report from the CBC earlier this month: “(He) is saying no to a speedy embrace of a new balloting system in New Brunswick elections. Scarcely an hour after an independent commission recommended the adoption of a preferential balloting system in time for the next election, (he) slammed on the brakes.”

But, hold on there, he struck the commission in the first place. What gives? The report from the public broadcaster illuminates: “He said he doesn’t think the voting system should change without voters having a say first.

‘To change the way people vote we think is a fundamental change,’ Gallant said. ‘So we would have to have a clear mandate. Any government would have to have a clear mandate to make that change. A mandate could be sought through a referendum. A mandate could be sought through a political party’s platform in an election.’”

How about the year 2020? Does this do it for you, New Brunswickers? One problem: That’s 24 months after the next scheduled provincial election, during which Mr. Gallant may win or become political toast.

How’s that for accountability?

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