Lousy government equals lousy voter attitude

Posted 09.17.13

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | With a municipal election here in west Quebec this November -- plus elections for school board commissioners -- let's not look at the candidates, but at our role in an election, you and me. It's not a pretty picture.

We expect the best of our leaders -- clean up any corruption, administrative bottlenecks, red tape, waste, and so on, yet this is the very working environment which we voters have created.

The adage that we get the government we deserve, well, we don't believe that, do we? We'll vote on partial impressions, ignore the issues, go for simplistic promises -- and demand the best results.

We insist they control salaries and public service unions. Yet we hit the roof if any resulting labour troubles inconvenience us -- if the mail is delayed, pensions, EI cheques or tax bills delayed, buses late, or police in jeans.

We want politicians to end favouring big business -- think of the feds and Big Oil. Yet we continue to insist that we will only take our news and form our opinions about government activities from the media owned by big business. It's time-consuming to look for alternate sources of news, to read more than one paper, etc. TV and radio news, most daily newspapers, they're largely all mouthpieces for the largest corporations in Canada. Unbiased news?

We insist our councillors create bike paths, traffic lights, and new business opportunities; we want them to help students find jobs, increase garbage pick-up, and repair every street, right away -- all without raising taxes. Really, we want our taxes reduced.

We want government waste eliminated, yet we support funding business studies and ventures, research, solutions for homelessness, school drop-outs, and drug-use, heritage building protected, and so on, all magnets for padded consultant fees and expense accounts.

We want our city to stand up to arrogant provincial and federal politicians, but we refuse to make municipal funding and transfer payments primary issues in provincial and federal elections. We prefer to argue about Syria.

We want buses travelling down our residential streets -- often with only one passenger aboard -- but complain about the cost of public transit, about exclusive bus lanes, and the lack of parking downtown.

We want honesty, of course. But it's OK for us to cheat a little on our taxes. We want more police on our streets, but not watching the routes we use every day. We want loyalty to our communities and neighbourhoods, but we feel just fine about shopping in Ottawa, Hull, or even the USA.

Clearly, we have to insist politicians meet very high standards, and that they cease the bafflegab and stonewalling we so often get from them. But democracy needs more than us merely marking an X every four years. Or sitting at home. Isn't there due diligence in being citizens?

This may be merely my rant for the week, but it may also point to some causes of our continual unhappiness with the governments we ourselves have elected.


Copyright © 2013 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/09.13