Michael Ignatieff has a good point

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?).

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0 Responses to Michael Ignatieff has a good point

  1. Anonymous says:

    You’re kidding right? If you didn’t want to ignite a debate, why mention it? Why mention THIS idiot?

    I mean, everything he’s saying comes straight out of the politician’s playbook, and of course Peter C. Newman? That’s the kiss of death. That guy is about as out of touch with Canadians as a harvard educated liberal!

    Quite right about ‘do what you say you’ll do’, it isn’t nearly as difficult as you would think. But you’ll notice, as usual, that guys who haven’t yet been elected to the position they want, like Iggie, talk a lot different than those in power.

    What he’s saying is essentially out of the Harris’ ‘common sense revolution’ playbook, which of course had Harris elected, but not by a majority of Ontarians, but then did what he said-which of course ended up almost bankrupting the province and killing a few in southern ontario.

    So now in Canada we’ve come down to the point of ‘anti politics’, don’t say you’re going to do anything at all! How the heck does an electoral system function like that? We might as well be in China voting on different bureaucrats to make the same decisions.

    I’ve got a better alternative.
    Here’s the situation:

    Politicians make promises,
    once elected, politicians break promises.

    So instead of the suggestion of ‘politicians shouldn’t make promises’, how about, ‘politicians should make promises they intend to keep’.

    Sounds pretty reasonable. In the spirit of the provincial election that may happen, you can go to the liberal website and see the resolutions that the liberals adopted at their latest meeting. Lots there to chew on, even some economic development stuff.