I don’t want to ignite a debate about Michael Ignatieff but I did like what he had to say in his Maclean’s interview last week:
I’d like to be a politician, the public figure who promised little and delivered what he promised, to the degree I possibly can — not 25 priorities but three — and try to be someone at the end of this game about whom you could say, “Well, I don’t like that guy very much, but he did what he said.” Doing that is much more important than just for my own personal reputation. Every politician who goes into public life is basically in the business of defending and enhancing the legitimacy of the democratic system itself.
I know I have been blogging on this topic lately but it has become a bit of a preoccupation. Truth in politics. Think about the New Brunswick example lately:
Prosperity Plan stuffed full of unrealistic and even crazy targets like being third among the provinces in Canada for R&D spending (we were then and are now last in Canada).
Education Plan – to have NB kids’ test scores rise to third in Canada the provinces (we are last or near last on all criteria).
That thing that was called ‘eNB’ (does it still exist?) which was to open the benefits of the Internet to all New Brunswickers. And we promptly dropped from 7th (in ’98) to 10th (in ’04)among Canadian provinces for households connected to the Internet.
Then there’s the current 5 in 5 which includes almost as unrealisitic goals as the now defunct Prosperity Plan.
All this boilerplate, spin served up breeds the current state of cynicism.
I am now of the opinion that New Brunswick politicians shouldn’t make any promises at all – save we will work our butts off and you will judge us on the results.
Or, as Ignatieff, if we must make promises, how about moving from 10th in Canada to 9th instead of 3rd? Or how about if we are 7th – at least retaining that position?
But back to Ignatieff, this truth and sincerity in politics schtick is probably an appropriate brand given that your detractors will call you an out of touch, elitist Harvardian that has no clue about Canadiana. I think he comes across as quite sincere. Peter C. Newman seems to be taken with him:
Newman to Ignatieff: You’re the only politician I’ve met who talks in sentences instead of sound bites. Will this be a major handicap? Ignatieff: It could be fatal, Peter!
Cute. Fatal and fast track at the same time.
Lessons galore in here for NB politicians.
Truth in politics. Stop the spin. How’s this for a lead: NB leads the country in spin reduction (oops, that sounded like spin didn’t it?).