The province of Nova Scotia has suffered a great deal of betrayal by politicians over the years. It isn’t always because we have been conned by dishonest candidates. And it isn’t because they are all incompetent. Some of them are very intelligent, and have great ideas, and usually started with good morals and vision. So then why do we run this same chapter of pandering, elitism and quite honestly corruption with every government? And, more honestly, every level of government.
Here in Nova Scotia, one must wonder about the current state of affairs, and how we got here. To this observer, there are deeply rooted histories in the parties, and when generations of previous governments are still in the thick of things, it is difficult to imagine there is a freedom for the newer generations to move freely toward change. If a previous and party popular leader is still active in his community and in the party, no newbie can come through the doors and undo what that prior leader screwed up; that would be an admission of failure, or at the very least, grave disrespect.
No one wants to believe that citizens come forward to take on the political ring of fire, just to be a politician. But what does happen is the candidates are vetted and screened, not for their honor and integrity, but rather for how they fit in with the party’s scheme, what ties they have to the voters, and whether they will be able to solicit votes. Will they be able to raise money? Then they are preened and coddled through the nominations and made to feel that their voices are what matter, their representation is what matters.
After election day, everyone in the party is friends and are “united’ on the ensuing task of “fixing” things. But the inner circle is chosen, the cabinet, determined prior to the election, in the hopes all the pieces of the puzzle are elected. Maybe a few adjustments are required. And many are promised positions ahead of time, so they curtail their campaign promises to the party expectations. The rest are just monkeys in a cage, waiting to be part of the circus, obeying the trainers and playing their parts as nicely as they can and doing tricks on demand. They show up when they are told to, and they do so, in the hopes that they will be part of the inner circle one day. There is nothing more common to all humans than the desire to be part of a gang or a clique. Very few of us really don’t give a crap about belonging….
Who decides who the leader and the inner circle are? We have noticed in various circumstances that the party has a propensity to load the room. The favoured fellow (since there has never been a female Premier) is a martyr to his “followers”. They all would give their left eye to be part of his team, and they will bring all of their friends to make sure he is their leader. They hope he will give them a prestigious position or an opportunity to be there. All they want is to be at events, at parties, in photos. He also attracts the business sector. They don’t necessarily like him, or respect him all the time, but he is a tool for them. He has the ability to make their successes come easier. These folks gain access to his right ear, while his long time supporters gain access to his left. Everyone gives him an ego boost and makes him believe he is king, with an expectation of return on investment.
This same chapter repeats itself again and again. And the more times we see the same story, the more the folks at home watching with displeasure start to get miffed. Then one of the business sectors gets a favour. The people of the province will pay for a private organization to do such and such. No small beans either, sometimes a 10 year or 30 year pledge for we, the taxpayers, to fork over our tax dollars. It is sold to us as “necessary”, or “for every Nova Scotian” or most popular? “It will create jobs”. In all the years I have been alive and living in this province, the same song has played every time a politician wants us to get on board, as if they lack imagination, or more truthfully, they know they are lying. There are never any benefits to every Nova Scotian, considering energy, highways, new schools, ferries, schooners. The jobs never reach the anticipated numbers, nor do they last long enough to help the communities or the economy. An uproar occurs, people are upset. In comes the research group or pollster who touts favour for the leader and his gang. The disgruntled can’t believe the rest of the province is falling for this, they must not care, or they aren’t paying attention. The dollars are given over, and after things settle down, rinse and repeat.
All the while this part of government’s take take take is going down, there is another precious betrayal playing out in spits and spurts. The things our tax dollars are intended for are deteriorating. Our hospitals and health care, the education system,our roads, our crown lands, our food security, our access to services. People speak out, become frustrated. In comes an adhoc board, or a committee, or hired contractor to study the situation, and more of our tax dollars are spent to inform us, we the people are to blame, because we are not supportive of progress or we are fearful of things we have no training or expertise in. We need to change our attitudes if we want doctors and new schools. We are the ones holding ourselves back. Public servants start to believe the public is the enemy, and elected officials treat us with disdain. Our cherished professionals, the nurses, the teachers, those who care for the aged, and the industries that are proving successful in contributing to the economy broadly are mischaracterized and lied about, turned into the enemy, and assigned blame in the overall failure of the province. More and more office towers in downtown Halifax are populating with branches of the political parties and their ideologues, some profiting off our tax dollars to spin the facts and point the finger. More and more deals are being made in the cover of Orders in Council or in downtown rented MLA’s apartments. More and more often government business is being done via Hotmail and on the phone without records and beyond the prying eyes of Freedom of Information requests. More and more damage is occurring in our forests and rivers, and more and more communities are watching the core of their being, their schools, shuttered in favour of spending elsewhere.
All along, each impacted sector, a community, an industry, a union, fights tooth and nail to stop it, but they are a few, battling the big dollars of governments, their friends in the media, adhoc boards funded by the party and hired by the government, the PR firms owned by the government’s closest friends and ad firms looking to get contracts from the government. Their fight is not taken up by the public because their reach into our everyday lives is limited. The public has enough to worry about, keeping a roof over their heads, and giving their kids a better chance than they felt they had. Being active in fighting bad politics as a bystander is frustrating and isolating. It is hard. These groups are fighting an ideal that still exists for many, that government is almighty, or the myth that government can’t or wouldn’t steal from us.
But then one day in an act of sheer cockiness, the current premier decided to step in it. He thought he could trounce all over the integrity of our teachers, turn the public against them and make the public believe there is no money to give our kids the best education they deserve, and need. If this observer were to guess, it appears he felt people cared about the salaries and deferred wages more than they cared about their own children. He thought the teachers would be silenced by the fear of retribution from parents. He thought parents were unaware of the tactics to date. And this particular group has the benefit of a finger on every small or large community across the board. Their fight impacts the entire province, full stop. Their demands were for the children, and no matter what he did to try to deflect that fact, parents were well aware of what their kids dealt with in their classrooms. It took a little while for it to sink in for him and he tried to demoralize the teachers, but he really miscalculated the value teachers bring, even under the worst circumstances, to each of our children every day. What other profession would continue to show up to an office that forced them to pay for their own supplies, left them in rooms that leaked, where their clients spit on them or hit them? Who else would have the heart to bring food and clothes from home for their clients, or let children curse at them. And what parent wants their child to be exposed to this, while they are struggling to gain the reading and math skills they need to succeed at all? What parent would not sympathize with a struggle that impacted everyone involved? What citizen didn’t take note of the manner in which the premier and his gang decided to behave through this entire scenario? Who would want that insanity at the wheel of any moving bus?
And so, now we have a large part of the population impacted. That was the ticket to waking everyone up. The ability to look at this situation, and apply it to other examples we know about and think to ourselves, if he could be so wrong and so horribly unjust here, then I guess he probably was there too. And that is the information that sparks an intention to punish and remove this monster madness from the controls of the moving bus. The ability to look back and see this is just a repeated and worsening scenario, to recognize that the government is not working for its people is what angers all of us enough, to make sure they never see the inside of our House in at least a generation. The idea that the public would crawl over broken glass to make sure this is the end of this era, can be great or can go very bad. They are not the first guilty party in this history of repeated chapters. And the current options need to be in tune to their responsibilities to the public. A lot of things need to change. It takes a lot of thought and conviction to do this right. To make sure none of these disrespectful oafs see another taxpayer dollar, it is every issue in every community that must be considered and a bonding of sorts must take place, to ensure the winner, is not a Liberal, and is not capable of turning their backs on those who elected them. The leader must respect and value everyone of his gang members, or they must not prop up his failures. None of them should forget who put them in power, and none of them should forget who they live next to, worked with, played ball with or went to church with. No one should ever refrain from putting themselves in someone else’s shoes. And it is up to the public, to get this message across, and make sure they are picking the right winner. Don’t jump on board with your neighbor, unless the questions have been answered. Do your homework. Ask your own questions. Speak up. Make them accountable for their previous statements, by forcing them to talk about them. It is exhausting trying to figure this out, but it is never more important than now.