What’s behind the polish?

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People are certainly allowed to have their own opinions. It’s just as well, because anyone who says they don’t have an opinion at all is likely either trying to curry favour or defuse a potential argument.

That extends even to politicians: while some may be loathe to admit it, politicians still have their own opinions on things big and small, from liver and onions all the way up to the seal hunt and capital punishment.

Some of those personal opinions may well conflict with the general view of those same politicians’ constituents — that’s not a problem, as long as the politician involved is careful to ensure that his or her personal beliefs do not trump the interests and desires of the voters who elect them.

This past Friday, the last person left in the provincial Tory leadership race, Frank Coleman, issued a written statement about his own views on abortion. Coleman has regularly taken part in Good Friday anti-abortion marches in Corner Brook. This year, his family attended, although he did not, because he was out of town.

“As a leader I believe in the rule of law. It would be weak of me to deny my beliefs and at the same time it is important that people understand I do not intend to impose my personal views,” said Coleman. “I have too much respect for all the people of this province.

“I celebrate the fact that we live in a diverse society and I therefore do not seek to impose my personal beliefs on others for respect does not insist on its own way.”

Fair enough. It is much better to answer than it is to simply hide or obfuscate in the interest of garnering political support.

But if Coleman is rightfully allowed to have his own personal opinion, there’s certainly something he should not be allowed to do much longer — and that’s to continue the practice of answering questions and concerns with crafted written statements.

The polished written statement may seem like a straightforward way to guarantee a clear expression of views, but it also means a politician who either doesn’t want to be questioned or simply can’t handle the pressure of defending a position.

One of the big knocks against former premier Kathy Dunderdale was her inability to connect with voters: governing by written statements without ever answering questions is an unlikely way to show a true change in the direction of government, or in any way frame it as open and approachable.

The Tories are now on the verge of electing a leader who will become premier, and who has yet to explain very much about his plans for the province. He’s an enigma, wrapped up in a press statement.

The least he can do is to answer questions in his own words in front of the microphones.

It may be flippant to say this, but if people really wanted to be governed by the polished handouts from communications staff, they’d probably elect those communications staffers.

Organizations: Tory

Geographic location: Corner Brook

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Recent comments

  • Cashin Delaney
    April 22, 2014 - 23:52

    "Don't stop the Party!" - Black-Eyed Peas Agreed. This is not 'real' politics, (its not even faked Chinese politics...) where you learn personality through policy debate. It is guessing at future policy within the circus of a personality debate! Why don't we just have Betty Star read the bumps on his skull and tell us what will happen. We are talking about a fully-grown, sixty year old Arch-Capitalist here, not a little league player too nervous to go to bat. It is not his unwillingness to speak to abortion clinics closing, but everything else, that is the problem. No one is sad that he's not out there, tormentin' us all, shaking our babies & kissing our hands. This is just PR pundits justifying their own role without saying MUSKRAT. Guess what. MUSKRAT!! Abortion rates are tied to socio-economic disparity. Muskrat = questionable abortions. The more free, easy-riding, single, transient, migrant, disposiably-cashed trade-dicks in the province, the more unplanned preggers. This is high sociology, no? Give her $1000 to keep it sure, and all the anti-abortion, natural law-thumpers will help your raise it, for the splendid glory and unfettered love of Sweet Baby Jesus & Almighty God? No? Oh? Charity ends at home for most of the meddling super-pious, so why not leave judgement their as well. Look inside yourselves...keep your rocks in your pockets, we have high winds, we wouldn't want a strong westerly to blow you all back to to Europe! "The province is just rocking, and I don't want to see that stop." - Coleman; When the province is a-rockin, don't let democracy come a-knockin. This is the kind of foolish comment I'd expect from a half-baked Justin Trudeau, or the Sin Jin's board of trade, not a upsitting man of the church. Would Pope Francis tell us "we are rocking", and keep her going, hammer & tongs? Yes by, keep the PC 'divide and conquer' going, ram it all home. PCs have rocked us enough for 10 decades, during the last one. Stop hiding behind God, cowards, and address the mess you have coerced your employers, the people, into via skullduggery.

  • Corporate Psycho
    April 22, 2014 - 20:19

    Frank who?