Required in various ridings. Must be honest, trustworthy, have integrity, be fair and willing to respect others. Must have no past history of bullying or intimidation. Experience of caring, compassion and teamwork is considered an asset.
I used to be something of a news junkie but some months ago, my tolerance limit for the unprofessional and unethical behaviour of politicians was exceeded and I decided to tune out and become less informed. Below are a few examples of that poor behaviour:
• bullying and intimidation
• spending scandals and overspending during an election campaign
• unprofessional conduct (name calling, finger pointing, criticizing and blaming others)
• poor financial management
• robocalls and manufactured poll results
• delivering punishment without evidence, before investigation and with no due process.
Recently, I became aware of a political issue that grabbed my attention and it caused me to tune in once again. I heard a government minister put forward a position to punish another citizen who has been elected to represent us.
While punishment may be part of our justice system, it only comes into play at the appropriate time within the justice process.
Our justice system is built on a foundation of the presumption of innocence, the right to remain silent, the right to a fair trial and the right to a defense. It is actually the government (the Crown) that must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a person committed an offence.
Government’s actions contrast greatly to what we should expect as fair and reasonable. Was there an investigation? What was the evidence? Was due process followed prior to punishment being considered?
The case is made up of the following: a Facebook group with more than 1,600 people registered, and some person, or persons, in the group is alleged to have made inappropriate comments, and those comments may later be determined to be an offence. The verdict by the government, “guilty by speculation” and “guilty by association.” Is this the new norm for the administration of justice in our province?
Wrong people in office
There is no question that government’s response to the Facebook issue offended me, but it also caused me to look a little deeper at the type of people who are being elected and that reflection led to my position that we are no longer attracting an adequate number of people of great character with strong ethical values.
Our parents and teachers worked hard to mould our character with good values and practices.
They taught us to be honest, to respect others, to help others, to not steal, to discuss and debate without shouting and yelling, to respect and accept differences and not to bully and intimidate others. We were taught that if you do not have anything good to say about someone then you should not say anything. Remember the “Golden Rule”?
Compare that great advice to what we see today from politicians.
Governments in power spend more time in the media criticizing others than talking about managing our affairs. The goings-on at the House of Commons and House of Assembly are embarrassing.
Will we ever stop bullying and have respectful workplaces as long as this behaviour continues? When was the last time you heard a candidate running for election put forward his/her character and values as the reason to vote for them?
Candidates’ promotional material often has more content dedicated to the opponent than to themselves. Perhaps there is a hidden message in that approach?
We have a dilemma. We need more individuals of great character with strong ethical values to step forward and offer themselves for election. I know we have many of those people in our communities.
The big challenge is convincing them to jump into the current sandbox, and then supporting them to make big change: first, remove the persons of poor character from the sandbox; second, remove the sandbox; and third, restore the arenas of government to places of great respect, as intended by its founders.
Calvin Barrett writes from Labrador City.