Almost daily, reasons why political leaders are losing the citizens’ trust becomes more apparent. Cynical attempts to distract attention from their serious misconduct, or from damaging policies by using Covid-19 or Climate Change as an excuse, have become the norm. Meanwhile a deluge of opioids, lack of housing for the poor and middle-income earners, lack of routine medical care, and plugged courts are commonplace.
Government at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels are failing in their most basic responsibilities. Politicians cite the need to counter the progress of Covid-19 or halt the onset of Climate Change as the reason for new taxes and regulations. Few if any of these levies or directives have had any success in eliminating disease or affecting climate. Most, however, can be directly tied to the desire to support some barely related policy of the government concerned.
The federal government’s countermeasures to Covid-19 for the last eighteen months have been based on a series of conflicting instructions followed by a barrage of unverifiable statistics. The speed with which some senior politicians personally disobey their own instructions for appropriate conduct only serves to indicate some other standard is in play.
Closer to home, British Columbia’s medical administrators have talked about the prospect of another pandemic for decades. It seems not to have occurred to them to have made even the roughest estimate as to how the means of fighting it could be superimposed on the need to maintain regular service. The province’s surgical waiting lists have been a scandal for years and are now even longer, as hospitals hold space empty and leave medical staff idle against the prospect of being overwhelmed by pandemic patients. The waiting lists did not shorten even after it became evident that hospitalization requirements had been drastically overestimated. Is this a situation likely to build trust that a solution is even possible?
The prospect of vaccination attracts objections from people who claim they are likely to suffer irreparable damage from this treatment. Experts use statistics to pillory protesters as “Anti-vaxxers,” but any suggestion that the vaccinations are less than successful are deluged by further orders that people should have more of them. Trust is never earned through compulsion.
While confusion reigns in medical circles, local law courts are plugged. Demonstrators who have decided that their interpretation of adequate forestry management is superior to that provided by a variety of experts and supported by statistical evidence, are released from jail after repeated arrests. Judges operating the release portion of the “catch and release” program cite the conduct of the police officers charged with enforcing the law as a contributory cause of breaking it. Is this supposed to build confidence in the rule of law among those who are paying for the service? Are statistics and expert opinions less superior depending on the choice of circumstances?
Provincial deaths from opioid overdoses are exceeding those from Covid by a considerable margin. Governments point to mental health problems as a primary explanation for the situation. The possibility that this disastrous situation may have emerged from a permissive accommodation of the use of cannabis or other readily available recreational narcotics is ignored. Also overlooked is the fact that a network of dealers, providing drugs in ever stronger concentrations, can operate with the same impunity as the aforesaid protesters who are cheerfully breaking other laws. A fine base upon which to build trust among the electorate!
Add to that, the civic service debacle:
Municipal authorities, incredibly, have found ways to add to housing shortages. Despite the property development solutions now moldering behind town council regulatory barriers, unit prices are rising as the Councilors are transfixed by process, not outcomes, and taxes have been hiked well beyond the level of inflation. Municipalities are using the proceeds to tackle massive social objectives well beyond their levels of authority or ability to influence. These are people who merit trust from the citizenry?
What about Canada?
In the recent federal election, few leaders, and certainly none of the principal ones, found anything to celebrate about Canada. Many seemed almost gleeful as they stigmatized dead Canadians from the past and vilified the living for their ancestors’ supposed sins. None felt the need to point out that Canadians had, virtually always, followed a path where they took the lessons of history and used their example to make things better. Those voters who hold their patriotism close find it hard to make their voices heard above the mob.
It is a painful wait for alternative leaders to present themselves, but voters still strive to elect politicians to do the things in society that it is impractical for them to do themselves. Leaders in the future aspiring to earn trust must do so by regaining control of government away from the hands of an unrestrained and proliferating bureaucracy, which appears to have usurped governmental function. It means accepting responsibility – something which no democracy can survive without.
Naïve perhaps, but it is all a matter of TRUST – at every level – all the time.
Canada can do better!
Spencer Fernando, Insight “Why Canadian Politics is Broken” Sept 27, 2021
Rex Murphy, The World News “Contradictory COVID advice” Sept 30, 2021
Martin Grunn, C2C Journal, “Can We Handle the Truth?” Oct 1, 2021