Do you ever find yourself frustrated with politics and those who’ve been elected? Many do. I do too, and I am one of them. And while it is never an acceptable excuse to paint all those who run for office with the same brush or to opt out of making democracy work, frustration does happen, and sometimes for very good reason.
One thing that frustrates many people is when they see a lack of authenticity. The lack of authenticity is something that Global TV’s Keith Baldrey recently wrote about because it is so crucial. The people need to have some level of trust in those at the helm — trust that what they are doing is authentic, not just for show.
Baldrey’s point hit home. Recently, the Liberals announced a 30-year agreement with Ducks Unlimited to operate the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area, provide some long needed capital upgrades, and that the legislation governing the management area would change. After a decade of neglect, suddenly the Liberals have taken interest in a 7,000 hectare Kootenay jewel home to hundreds of bird species.
However, that announcement wasn’t entirely upfront; it wasn’t authentic. There is no legally-binding agreement. No legislation has changed (I was there, and nothing came forward this legislative session), and nothing will come forward until spring 2014 — after an election. For years, I asked the minister responsible to work with me in a non-partisan way. He hasn’t, refusing meetings and making decisions without proper consultation.
The announcement was an election-style attempt to win over voters and give the appearance of doing something bold when in fact they have done very little. More importantly, should the Liberals decide to change their minds, it all comes to an end — just ask any other organization that has signed a similar type of agreement with the Liberal government only to find out after an election they’ve fallen off the radar.
This announcement was very similar to the one made about St. Paul’s hospital in Vancouver. A show with no substance. Then it happened again. Last week, Christy Clark announced the Liberals have a new program to address student debt. But when looking at the details, it’s not a new program, but a re-packing of a long-standing program to align it with the federal government. Only a small percentage of those with student loans will benefit, and they will only benefit after they’ve racked up considerable debt. Failing to address the meat of student debt, such as BC having the highest interest rate in Canada and no money to needs-based grants, is not a “pillar” of an agenda to increase affordable post-secondary education and address the skilled labour shortage. Passing it off as such is simply unauthentic.
The lack of authenticity is frustrating, and I am hearing from you about it. In Canada, thankfully, you do have an option to deal with your frustration. Get engaged, get active. Vote. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen if you get involved to make it. We deserve real action and we have the right to make that happen.
Michelle Mungall is the Nelson-Creston MLA and the NDP opposition critic for advanced education, youth and labour market development