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May 16, 1997 Halifax Herald

Potpourri: politicians, parties, perspective

FORMER Premier John Buchanan has been castigated at least 100,000 times by critics for the hugh debt his administration saddled the province with. Granted, the debt did increase bigtime under his rule; however, I can't help but wonder why his critics don't ask themselves these simple questions, before castigating only him:

1. At election times, was he running against himself? He wasn't. He ran against Liberals and NDPers whose extravagant promises and plans were just as fiscally irresponsible as those of the Tories. 2. Shouldn't the two opposition Parties have been crying wolf? They weren't. 3. Who elected him? We did, because we liked what he offered.

Also, critics should keep in mind that Nova Scotia was not the only jurisdiction awash in red ink during this period. The entire country was. Senior governments of all political stripes were spending so recklessly that the rating agencies, which set interest rates for public borrowing, were threatening to lower the boom on all. During these years, federalists, socialists, separatists, etc., were all spending money as if there were no tomorrow.

PEOPLE who praise the Liberals for initiating plans to bring Nova Scotia's deficit under control should remember that it was Don Cameron's Tory government which first started such reforms, not the Liberals.

Besides reducing the deficit, Cameron intended to reform other aspects of government and initiate measures which would have prevented the level of pork-barrelling we see today.

Too bad he didn't have a chance to fulfil his promise.

HAS John Charest blown his slim chance to become prime minister? I suspect so.

In order to have made his party a plausible alternative to what we now have, Charest needed to kick off his campaign by apologising for the part he played in the way Mulroony's government arrogantly and undemocratically imposed the GST. He should have followed this up by committing to enact reforms which would have democratized the system and prevented future governments from ignoring the wishes of the people.

If this had been done, his fortunes might have taken off. However, it was not; instead what he is offering is not much more than what we presently have - albeit with different wrappings.

Another factor comes into play when assessing federal Tory fortunes. Many of the country's electorate, probably the vast majority, view all political parties as untrustworthy. Thus, when it comes to electing governments the evil-we-know approach is often engaged.

It appears that many Canadians are using this philosophy when weighing the worth of the alternatives to the federal Liberals.

I BELIEVE the Reform Party has been wrongly branded as the Party of intolerants. The reason that it appears to be one is that its democratic base permits its bigots to openly express personal opinions. Conversely, the reasons why the bigots in the other political parties keep their mouths shut, and mostly don't express publicly the bigotry they harbour within, is that they might get kicked out of the Party, and thus jeopardise undeserved pensions.

Therefore, the allegation that it is filled with bigots is not the reason why I don't support Reform. Itís because I don't like the policy it has for First Nations and the lack of compassion it displays when articulating policies for addressing the needs of the underprivileged and other minorities.

If not for these, as the only Party advocating real democratic reforms, it would have my full support.

BELIEVE it or not, real democracy is actually taking hold in some parts of Canada. A few western provincial governments have taken tentative steps in this direction, by introducing into their political systems a way to recall wayward elected officials, and by mandating that approval by the people in a referendum is needed to raise taxes.

Alberta's Ralph Klien is also moving in this direction.

Letís hope the democratic practices creeping into the system out West creep this way!

A STRANGE thing happened recently. A fellow with - from my perspective - a weird outlook on the way democracy should operate called me up and very forcefully explained that we do, indeed, live in a true democracy.

He backed this up by pointing out that we elect people to lead and to do as they see fit, without consulting us, when governing, between elections.

With this kind of archaic thinking - stemming from being brainwashed into believing that imperialism is wonderful - is it any wonder our political system is archaic?

TONY Blair, the new Prime Minister of England, when told that he and his party were the new masters of England, responded: "We are not the masters. We are the servants of the people; they are the masters, we are here to do their bidding."

With luck, one day, a Prime Minister of Canada will adopt the same stance.

WE now know why there were so many tax increases over the past three and a half years. The Liberals, with winning this election in mind, were building up a war chest to buy our votes.

This kind of crap makes one think that politicians believe the voter is like a silly prostitute who pays the John for his services, or like the nutcase who is thankful for the generosity received when his mugger offers him a handout from his own money!

Daniel N. Paul

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