Here’s a news flash – people don’t trust politicians.
That’s a shame.
Because I truly believe most elected officials are great people with great hearts who work hard to make their community a better place – and yes, even in the good ol’ U.S. of A.
But even here in “sunny ways” Canada – where our prime minister has become known for his toothy selfies and eye-gazing forehead-to-forehead embraces with his colleagues, it’s easy to see how citizens have become conditioned to think that their politicians are nothing but two-faced liars.
It’s almost like we expect nothing less from them.
I could fill this paper with examples of politicians – municipally, provincially and federally – who have contributed to this growing climate of distrust and animosity.
But I could also fill another 20 papers with examples of politicians who have kept their word, honoured their communities and selflessly served their electorate.
Unfortunately, high-profile broken promises, like our prime minister’s recent electoral reform reversal, cause many voters to become cynical, forgetting the good while remembering the bad.
Back when he was campaigning for the country’s highest office, Justin “Don’t Call Me Joe” Trudeau criss-crossed the country, promising Canadians that one of his highest priorities as prime minister would be to change the way we elect our leaders.
“I believe fundamentally that we can do better,” CBC reported him as saying during a forum at the University of Ottawa last April, 10 months after he first vowed that a Liberal government would move past the current federal electoral system.
“We can have an electoral system that does a better job of reflecting the concerns, the voices of Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and give us a better level of governance.”
Trudeau assured Canadians that it was a priority for him and for many others who believe, “we need to make sure that going forward we have the best possible electoral system.”
Less than a year later, Trudeau abandoned the promise and dropped electoral reform from his mandate.
As electoral reform advocate Ed Broadbent recently wrote in the Globe and Mail, “Trudeau had an opportunity to inspire and deliver real change for a generation. Instead, he has chosen to abandon reform, break his promise and contribute to political cynicism.”
Meanwhile, just a few miles south of us, our American neighbours find themselves shocked that someone they just made president is actually doing what he said he would do.
Regardless of how you feel about things like a travel ban, a wall or drastic changes to trade agreements, you have to hand it to Trump – he told us he was going to do it, and he’s doing it.
Kind of a new approach, isn’t it?
And regarding all the fury coming from our outraged American friends, I have to wonder, how many of them actually voted? I suspect not many, seeing as how only about half of eligible voters in the U.S. cast a ballot in the 2016 election.
And yet, we still blame politicians for the state of our democracy.
Beau Simpson is editor of the Now. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org