It’s time to close the sandbox

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Ethical Politicians

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.



Organizations: Golden Rule, House of Commons and House of Assembly

Geographic location: Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Darryl Collins
    May 01, 2013 - 23:54

    Great job Calvin , I agree totally. I wonder what "Big Mother's" response to this would be, ...Mr Speaker.... Thanks for re-tuning to this important channel.

  • Dean Peckford
    April 29, 2013 - 19:12

    I concur. I have often wonder what happened to the political system I learned about in high school, the one that said the constituents vote the person who best represents their interests, then that person represents those people and had to put forth their wishes, not their own agendas ( or the agendas of party leaders, or major contributors to their political parties etc...). The current trends in our national and provincial political parties have me questioning if the only difference in our system and communism is that we get to elect the people who tell us what to do... Makes me very sad for me children actually.

  • Corporate Psycho
    April 29, 2013 - 16:14

    100 percent agree.

  • Cyril Rogers
    April 29, 2013 - 12:26

    There is much to agree with in your comments, Mr. Barrett. We have allowed politicians to usurp our democratic rights by bullying to get their own way. They pretend to be the purveyors of all that is right and good while, in many instances, acting in the best interests of themselves and their supporters. What is Muskrat Falls....... if not a project designed to fill somebody's pockets at our expense?? What is Bill 29....if not legislation designed to hide the government's less than open actions in regard to projects like Muskrat Falls, allowing fish to be shipped wholesale for processing in China, and so forth? What are the intentions of Darin King...if not to abuse the sanctity of our duly elected legislature, by using his government's majority to wrongly censure, a member of that HOA? That it was so clearly wrong, and that the Speaker has rightly apologized to the member who was maligned, shows a level of arrogance, entitlement, and incompetence that is more than insulting to us, the electorate. Their shenanigans demonstrate for all to see that they are, not only unfit to govern in any moral sense, but that they are so incompetent as to be a scary that is woefully inept in trying to shepherd through a project of the financial magnitude of Muskrat Falls. As I have stated repeatedly in my comments, we are allowing them to develop that monstrous project at maximum cost for the least benefit we will ever see, as a province. Think of it this way......over 10 billion when completed for a measly 500 MW of power. It will be, bar none, the most expensive power on the planet. And, they are using their Legislative Majority to push this through......just as thy did when they wrongly tried to malign MHA Gerri Rogers. Why should anyone trust a legislature whose majority would stoop this low????

    • Born Yesterday
      April 29, 2013 - 20:29

      What is this new found indignation ... if not selective or blind to what has been going on for decades. Must of been born yesterday.

  • Sick of Politicians
    April 29, 2013 - 11:43

    Today's politicians have faces and hearts of steel. They are NOT there for the benefit of the electorate and taxpayers whom they were elected to serve by doing the right thing, they are there in their opinion, ONLY, to represent their own needs and they will deal with the most corrupt characters to accomplish that.

  • david
    April 29, 2013 - 11:16

    Politicians are greedy and selfish, like anyone else. They only do what they can get away with....and what they can get away with is completely our fault.

  • Ken Kavaanagh
    April 29, 2013 - 08:03

    What a great piece of work Calvin. You have hit the nail directly on the head. The only thing i would add woyld be that all of us as voters are to blame for this. We seem to reswpond to flash rather than substance. Thanks for a great article. Ken kavanagh Bell island