A culture of mistrust

Few would deny that weak and opportunistic politicians have become a dominant feature of our governments here and indeed throughout much of the world.

In Canada in recent days scandals and personal attacks have assumed a prominent role in politics, exemplified in recent sessions of the House of Commons.

Apart from the expenditure of time and the debasement of the entire system, people now are constantly aware of the expediency of many politicians and the possibility of scandals. That forms a culture of mistrust; certainly some will waver before pursuing a career in politics or even advocating policies that might stir up debate.

Inasmuch as many in government hesitate to enter areas of potential danger in policy matters, and try not even to get close to them, the “forbidden” territory gradually grows in extent until policy paralysis sets in.

Witness the lack of action in governments on matters of crucial concern, such as the environment or the problems of poverty.

Those failures in the government system bring poisonous politics with them; when the number of unscrupulous politicians and scandals reach a certain point, an evasion of responsibility pervades government as a whole. New rules to avoid scandals of one sort or another bring along demoralization among officials as it becomes difficult to have legitimate contacts with people.

The main demoralizing effect of “dirty” politics is to make us feel perpetually corrupt and to prevent our government from operating effectively.

The fault lies with us, the electorate. If we were better informed, better educated as to the requirements of a good politicians, more qualified people would stand for office and be elected.

There are remedies available. Intelligent, informed voters simply can turn the process around. If we are going to prosper in the coming decades, we must ensure that we elect an altogether different calibre of officials in the future.

Cynicism can be replaced, and then an effective government can work wonders. Let us hope that this process gets underway soon.


Bruce Whitestone