March 6, 1998 Halifax Herald

Leaders, candidates deserve fair assessment

Many newspaper articles and T.V. and radio clips about John Hamm are worded in such a manner that they leave one with the impression that he has trouble coming up with intelligent thoughts. This isn't news reporting; it's biased manipulation.

Often reporters, if indeed they give him space, start a Hamm story with a negative which goes something like this: The leader of the Tories, the party which was responsible for raising the province's debt to 8 billion... The truth is that John Buchanan's Tories did add billions to the provincial debt, but the debt wasn't exactly zero when they took over. Those who came before them have to take their proportionate share of the blame.

What Buchanan's boys did was irresponsible, but just as harmful was the fact that the Liberal and NDP opposition did not make any effort to stop it (check news media morgues of the era to verify this). Hamm played no part in creating the huge debt; like most of us, he was an innocent bystander. So why try to make a connection to him?

The same reporters don't start stories about Robert Chisholm with: “The leader of the party whose counterparts in Ontario implemented similar policies to what Chisholm preaches, which brought that Province's rich economy to near ruin...”

Nor do they start off stories about Russell MacLellan with: “The man who leads a Party which has, over the past five years, raised taxes to chocking levels; has set up a toll road; approved a blended sales tax which has raised the cost of essentials to new heights; has implemented health-care reforms which have made a major mess of the province's health-care system; and, while doing all this mischief, has balanced the books by using creative bookkeeping...”

The truth about John Hamm is that he is a caring, dignified, honest, compassionate, intelligent, knowledgeable and responsible man who deserves fair treatment. He was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Canadian Army. He is a very well-respected member of the medical profession - i.e., he was past president of the Aberdeen Hospital Medical Staff, past president of the Medical Society of Nova Scotia, past president of the College of Family Physicians of Nova Scotia, and so on. He was also, among many other community activities, past chair of the Aberdeen Hospital Foundation. These types of honours are bestowed only upon those who exhibit good character, intelligence and high ethical standards - not dodos!

There isn't a sliver of connection between Hamm and the policies of the Buchanan era. Hamm was elected in 1993, which was after that era became history. Nor does most of his party's 51 other candidates have any connection. Only 6 are from the Buchanan era, and none of those carry over much negative baggage.

To hold a new generation of politicians responsible for the actions of past governments is patently unfair. For instance, what sense would it make to judge MacLellan on the policies of the long-gone Gerry Regan regime? He wasn't part of it.

But one cannot be overly generous with MacLellan. He has been Premier long enough to be judged on personal performance. When running for the leadership of the Liberal Party, he promised that the BST would be removed from essentials and children's clothing; its still there. He promised to remove the tolls from the new Wentworth by-pass highway; the tolls are still there. Under his regime, new schools are being built by, and leased from, private firms. These deals hock the financial future of our children. In the final analysis, this type of financing will have the same effect as increasing the provincial debt.

In the case of Robert Chisholm, it cannot be said that he had any connection with the implementation of the ruinous New Democrat economic policies in Ontario. But it can be credibly argued that he preaches a leftist economic philosophy which has been tried, tested, discredited and discarded around the world.

During this election, if our aim is to realize good government, we must weigh the offerings of each party and select our preferences carefully. And to bring honesty to the forefront, we must hold politicians to their promises. False promises, designed to get elected, should be a no-no.

However, to make things happen, we must vote! If we don't vote, then we have no right to complain and criticize. When making our choices, we need to consider what makes good government. We need MLAs who represent the people and not the party. We need an end to blatant patronage. Therefore, the question we must collectively answer when we vote is; which party can deliver good, clean government or, at least, make significant inroads towards achieving it?

We should not end up with dictators. If we find, after the vote, that the people we elected arrogantly believe that they have become our masters, instead of our servants, then we must turf them out as soon as possible. Maybe we should demand recall.

To help us vote effectively and responsibly, we need to have accurate information about each party's platform and candidates. This can be had from Party offices located across the province.

One last thought: The latest census indicates that only 19 percent of Nova Scotians claimed Canadian as their birthright, 38 percent of Quebeckers claimed Canadian lineage, this tell you something?

Daniel N. Paul


Home   Column Index 1998   Web Site Map