By: Graham Lane
Published: Winnipeg Sun, February 3, 2017
Our neighbours to the south demonstrated collective anger when they elected an unruly, inexperienced political outsider and billionaire as their President. Donald Trump, under the America First banner, promises major changes to immigration, taxation and international trade. A similar sense of resentment is also found in England’s vote to leave the European Union and growing dissatisfaction in continental Europe.
Canadians change governments naively believing that the replacements will act in the interest of taxpayers as they promise. Yet, time after time we are disappointed as the new regimes end up acting like the ousted.
New governments – federal, provincial, municipal – of whatever stripe they paint themselves, quickly focus on separating taxpayers from their money rather than reforming services and reducing the deep levels of waste in the public sector. Politicians forget that the money they spend comes from the citizenry that put them in power and they default to seek the favour of groups who might provide them votes at election times.
New governments invariably come into power also promising a new era of openness, transparency and accountability. Once in office, they pay lip service to those attributes. Like their predecessors, new governments hide information and distort truths to serve their own interests. They keep their eyes on what is truly important for them – having gotten power, staying in power. Power is both pleasant and addictive, providing prestige, money, and taxpayer-paid trips. Post politics they enjoy rich pensions while mining past connections.
Consider our current federal, provincial and municipal governments. All to one degree or another follow a script that has been in place through Canada’s 150-year history. The actions taken are ones best for them, not ‘us’. Are discarded options involving spending reform and service innovation disclosed and examined before parliament, provincial legislature and municipal councils? Rarely, and never in whole.
Knowing the selfish nature of governments, why are taxpayers so compliant as they are so regularly fleeced? Forget demonstrations, let alone riots in the streets, such actions are left to the indigenous population. Yet, there is anger. Try the 38,000 Ontario households unable to pay their hydro bills due to Kathleen Wynn’s destructive green energy policies.
Low-income Manitobans will soon join them.
The stumbling Pallister government chose to allow Hydro to continue to decimate our disposable funds. When will a needed public inquiry be held? Never it seems, though once promised. It would allow us to know just how this enormous boondoggle came about. A real review would likely reveal criminal fraud, waste and absolute foolishness.
On the municipal beat, Mayor Bowman funds a sure to be underused and incredibly expensive Bus Rapid Transit system while raiding the water utility for more cash and constantly seeking new and higher taxes. Trudeau is no better – massive deficits plus the latest unnecessary funding bauble for spendthrift politicians everywhere – a carbon tax. Count on it to make our industries even less competitive than they are now. Depreciating our currency is but the first step to penury.
Why are we so placid? What will it take to get mad enough to really hold government accountable? Are we placid sheep, uttering not much than an occasional plaintive bleat?
Do we need Trump-like outsider politicians to shake things up?
Graham Lane heads up Manitoba Forward (manitobaforward.ca)
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