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February 23rd, 2011:

Honesty in Canadian politics? What a crazy notion!

I have seldom come across an article in The Mark that would I consider to be less than stellar in editorial quality, content and analysis. They are more often than not on the “mark”.

Aand they continue this high standard with an article on “truth” in politics penned by Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch.

Conacher challenges the ho-hum attitude of many Canadians these days when it comes to holding our elected representatives up to high moral and ethical standards – more specifically: telling the truth.


And we see this shoulder-shrugging a lot, don’t we? Ask a half-dozen folks what they think of Bev Oda’s recent blatant disregard for “truthiness”, and I say that at least a few of them will respond with a “Meh, so she lied. Isn’t that what they ALL do?”… implying that if everyone does it, what’s the big deal?

Granted, members on both sides of the House have been caught red-handed in lies on a number of occasions over the past couple of decades, so this public cynicism is bit understandable.

But it doesn’t make lying right. After all, isn’t honesty required of us, as citizens, by the government?

As the article correctly notes:

Politicians have passed many laws that demand honesty from Canadians. From welfare applicants to taxpayers to corporate executives, it is illegal for Canadians to lie, and high penalties are in place to discourage dishonesty.

Go ahead, lie on your income tax return and see what happens if you get caught. Tell a fib about anything on an official government form on any level and see if the responsible agency says “meh”.

No. In fact, you should “lawyer up”! Stating falsehoods on government forms is usually punishable by fines or imprisonment.

So why is it such a stretch to expect the same level of honesty from our pols as they demand of us? And why aren’t there laws or regulations in place that penalise dishonesty? Oh, there are some, you say…

But when it comes to political candidates lying to voters, or to politicians and government officials misleading the public, almost anything goes. This is because the laws that are in place to prevent politicians from lying are vague, and enforcement agencies are often reluctant to act in such cases. In fact, in most parts of Canada it is illegal for candidates to make written pledges saying that they will take specific actions if elected.

So, tell me wanna-be Government A or Government B, who will have the balls to propose an honesty-in-politics law? Who will finally say that an upward motion on the ol’ democracy bar is long overdue? Call me crazy, but this might be something that would register with voters and lift them from indifference and sub-50% voter turnout rates! What an issue to run with!

No takers?

Going once….