Passion, people and promises

Someone marveled the other day at the number of promises flowing from party leaders since the federal election campaign started.

We had to agree – it’s unbelievable, really.

What makes it so hard to believe is the fact that the candidates seeking the highest office in the land intend to continue spending money they simply don’t have. Currently the government of Canada owes $768 billion, including this past year’s deficit of $14 billion.

Every leader is at it – pitching promises that add more debt.

As history suggests, promising people things is a great way to get elected. Every now and again the debt hangover looms large enough that well-meaning voters swing back to a place where they support getting a balanced budget. That mentality of doing the right thing lasts for a little while, but soon the desire for “things” takes root again and the cycle starts anew.

It would appear this election that not one established party is holding up any pretense of managing the burgeoning debt that continues its nasty creep into the pockets of coming generations. To be substantively clear, Conservatives and Liberals in our lifetime have both been part of the debt problem, often running deficits and accruing debt.

This descent into debt is made worse by the proposition of tax cuts. Spending more and taking in less revenue – despite claims that less taxes eventually transforms itself into more overall revenue – will only deepen the fiscal problems we face.

On the plus side, there seems to be agreement (by virtue of the promises made in the last two weeks) on what issues face the country.

Housing, healthcare, the economy, cell phone rates, climate change and child care factor into the majority of party platforms. What to do and how to tackle the issues varies in each party platform.

About the only truism we can come up with to explain these divergent promises is there remains no such thing as a free lunch. Recognize that all of these proposals have a price, despite what politicians promise.

One of the more contested issues this election is climate change, with attitudes ranging from skepticism and denial to abject fear that the world will soon end.

A good local example of how opposed views are on this issue took place at a Wellington-Halton Hills candidate night in Erin this week, where profanity-laced frustrations boiled over after a question of climate change was raised.

Leaders that fail to recognize climate change as a prime issue this election are making a mistake. Average Canadians are very concerned about its potential impact as time goes on.

At the end of week two of the campaign, there certainly is plenty to consider before votes are cast.

Peculiar decision

Although five candidates in total are vying to represent the riding of Wellington-Halton Hills, only four showed up to an official candidate night on Monday.

Andrew Bascombe was unable to attend and, in a move never before seen by members of our news team, a surrogate was engaged to represent the absent candidate on stage.

Diane Ballantyne sat in to take  questions, speaking on behalf of the NDP and Bascombe himself. Ballantyne ran for the NDP in the last provincial election and she is currently a sitting county councillor for ward 6. While there is no argument to be made about Ballantyne’s sincerity or willingness to help out her party, this was neither the time nor place.

She was not the registered candidate. It’s really that simple.

Attendees and actual candidates deserved better that night.