Monday, July 6, 2009

Forget what they say, watch what they do

Pal, a relation, fled Hungary decades ago. He came to Canada a young adult without prospects or supports, but with great hope. He had chosen democracy and economic freedom over Soviet imposed Stalinism in his homeland. Despite origins in a landlocked country, Pal made his way to the Pacific coast and raised a family. Now, he resides comfortably in one of B.C.'s mid-coastal islands of paradise.

Pal understands the importance of civil rights and open government better than most. Before the last election, I spoke to him about my frustration with politicians who offer detailed platforms but feel no obligation to fulfill the promises. Even worse, they say one thing and do the polar opposite, without even slight contrition.

For example, during 2001 campaigning, Gordon Campbell and his BC Liberal Party, promised:
  • To manage public projects according to strict terms of fully vetted business plans;
  • To respect labor contracts and accept terms as negotiated or arbitrated;
  • To maintain public ownership and operation of BC Rail;
  • To improve Freedom of Information and run history's most open and accessible government.
The entire Liberal platform was published on-line. It was clear, concise and worthy of support. I voted Liberal. Of course, I had missed one thing about the promises. Many, like those above, were hollow - emptier than a crack addict's savings account.

In our conversation, Pal explained that I had wasted time reading platforms and promises. He said the only method of judging real intentions is to scrutinize a politician's finances. Banks don't lend money or put someone in charge of a vault without first examining those details. They want to know all sources of a client's income and particularly about the debts and obligations owed to others.

Pal said:
Give me a list of contributors and full details of a candidate's financial records. I'll know exactly what to expect without reading platforms or listening to promises. Tell me who a politician is beholden to and I can figure out what they are going to do.

Like most good concepts, Pal's is simple, uncomplicated. We only have to follow the money.
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