Wednesday, 19 June 2013

How long is too long?

   Most have heard the saying  "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". There is a lot of  truth in that statement, and the idea behind it might just be the best reason the USA has term limits for its presidents, but here in Canada we don't have this for our Prime Ministers. Which leads me to the question, should we? How long is too long?
    I would like to state that although I understand the reasoning behind term limits I'm not sure I  think we need them here Canada. Within each party there is a process in the form of leadership reviews that meant to be a check in the system, a procedure to see if the parties have confidence in their leaders, whether or not this is what they are meant for or if they are effective in this regards is up for debate but they are there. I won't disagree that term limits for our leaders either Prime Ministers or the Premiers would be and effective way to curb the power corruption to a point. The truth is power can corrupt one very quickly and perhaps even with them in place it might not stop it from happening.
   So that brings me to my second question, perhaps the more important of the two, how long is too long?  This is another one that is tough yet surprisingly simple to answer.  Tough because everyone is different. Individuals can go an entire career in government and not have been there too long, and on the other hand some can be there a short time and have it be too long.  The question becomes simple, because with setting a queue, a point in which to spot and let us know they have been there too long it is surprisingly simple to tell when. We call our leaders, our MPs, Senators and MLAs public servants, their jobs are to serve their country or province and the people within them. So what is that benchmark, the queue or point that leads us to know when they have been there too long?  That's simple, it's when they forget that they serve the public, and when they start thinking that the public serves them.  When they sit back and think that they need to take the public by the hand and that they know what's best for them. When they start spending the tax money as if its their own private stash, when they forget that we as tax payers allow them to have these funds to distribute on programs and infrastructure that mutually benefits society. Too long is evident when they tax the people like they are entitled to that money and that it's theirs to blow at their whims.  The government is accountable to us, we are their bosses, the term Public Servants has meaning, has it been forgotten?
   I think history has shown that being in power too long can and will in a lot of cases make those public servants forget their roots, forget why and for whom they are there. We don't even have to look that far back in history here. The federal Liberal party under Chrétien and his successors fell into  the temptation of power and we saw scandal after scandal.  Here in Alberta even Ralph Klein in his latter years started to forget and threw money around like he condemned when he first took the reigns  of the party. More recently we heard the comments of MP Brent Rathgeber that " he barely recognizes his old party the CPC. Does sitting in public office for a lengthy time contribute to forgetting the roots, the base of the party?  Soon the CPC is having a membership meeting, will the base hold their leaders to account and bring them back down to ground and re-root them back in the grassroots values that the party is founded on?  Will this meeting be as effective as having a term limit by reminding the leadership and other party members why they are there?  Time will tell if the leadership has been there too long already and if they will listen to their base.  Lets be honest here as well, this is not a problem limited to one side of the political spectrum, both the right and the left are just as capable of falling prey to the lusts of power and entitlement, take a look at the recent Senate scandals.  Both Conservative and Liberal Senators have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar.  Lets also look closer to to home ( well my home ) lets look at Alberta. Over 40 years ago the PC party took power in Alberta. In the past year under the leadership of Alison Redford, an ex UN human rights lawyer (kind of a public servant) who became a MLA (public servant) and then a minister of the PC caucus (public servant with more responsibility)  and finally the leader of the party (public servant).  She has clearly shown a serious disconnect with the Joe and Jane Alberta. Her parties recent cuts in the budget focus on cutting Healthcare providers, education providers, Disability service providers, broad cuts to public, private, and separate school boards, broad cuts to post secondary education and the list goes on. But yet she funnels money and perks to special interest groups and continues to build bureaucracy by increasing the office staff and growing the back room government staff at a crazy rate. I have to ask, has she crossed that line?  Has she been there too long and forgotten why and for whom she's there?
  So lets ask the questions, should we have term limits on public servants?  If yes, who should they apply to?  Just our leaders like Prime Ministers and Premiers, or possibly to all MPs, Senators, and MLAs?  Please, post a comment I would love to hear others perspectives on this!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

What's happened

I ask this question in regards to the latest happenings with St Albert MP Brent Rathgeber. What's happened to the CPC? What's happened to our PM Stephen Harper?  Brent tried to get a private members bill put through that would require those working at the CBC, a public company, payed for with tax dollars, to disclose how much it's publicly funded employees are making as which is done with other public jobs. It made sense to many people except those MPs that gutted the bill, those MPs  who have built relationships with the lobbyists in favour of keeping that info quiet.  Those MPs who campaigned on the CPC platform of  "honest responsible transparent government".
  What's happened to our PM who campaigned on a platform of public transparency, what's happened  to the PM who continually told Canadians that the Liberal party couldn't be trusted with government for the same things that they themselves are now guilty of?
What's happened to the Conservative Party?  Too often as of late we have seen a fundamental move away from it's conservative rooted base and its conservative rooted platform and continues to look more and more like the party lead by Jean Chrétien, or even worse.  At least Jean Chrétien produced balanced budgets, yes he too had his scandals but anyone watching lately can clearly see that Stephen Harper  is not guilt free in this area.
I think the CPC needs to sit down, wake up, and get its Conservative house in order and listen to Canadians who elected a CONSERVATIVE majority, not another Liberal party.