What happened to character in politics?

I don’t know if I am going to write about this for my column in The StarPhoenix.  Probably because it depresses me so much and partly because Murray Mandryk does a way better job of writing about provincial politics than I do but here is my take on the five Saskatchewan candidates who have driving while impaired convictions.

I was in Grade 11 when my first friend was killed by an impaired driver.  He was impaired and killed himself and one other person while driving home from Prince Albert one long weekend.  It was the same thing, they had too much to drink, thought they could handle it and pulled out to pass when they should not have.  It was all over before they knew what happened.  It’s been over 20 years and I still get a sick feeling in my stomach when I think about it.

The story is similar with a few other friends over the years.  Sometimes they were intoxicated and hurt someone else.  Other times they were coming home from work and were hit hard themselves.  End result was that their lives were over or spent months or years recovering from the accident.  

It’s not a unique story, Saskatchewan leads the nation in people who drive drunk something that I can’t understand.  People say they have no options but there are always options.  Sleeping in your car and locking the keys in the trunk, calling a friend, using a cab, walking home are all options.  I have been woken up more then once by sheepish friends who have said, “I am downtown and had too much to drink…”  Each time I have always gotten out of bed and gone and helped them out without regret because loosing someone to drunk driving is an experience that none of us should have to deal with.   Many of you have done the same thing because we all know the risk to our friends, family and strangers from someone getting into a vehicle and driving intoxicated.

So when Cam Broten and Brad Wall both allowed candidates who had not only one conviction but multiple convictions to be candidates for their party like nothing was out of the ordinary, I was incredibly disappointed.  These candidates decided that it was okay to drink too much, get into a vehicle and endanger innocent lives because they were too cheap to call a taxi, too prideful to make a phone call, or too selfish to stay at home and not go out and get drunk.  The same actions which disqualify many people from the same “high paying jobs” and quite a few menial jobs that both parties love to talk about is appropriate for candidates to become MLAs?

This is the government that spent much of the last four years legislating red light cameras, baby seats, and how fast we drive in highways zones but both parties have no problems with candidates who have repeated driving while impaired convictions.  In a province where this kind of behavior is already too prevalent and given tactful approval in many circles as “part of growing up”, what message to both Broten and Wall send?

I know backbench MLAs serve really no purpose other than to clap and bang on their tables on command but shouldn’t we expect more from our MLAs and potential cabinet other than the ability to knock on doors and pose for photos with their party leader.  Shouldn’t a clean criminal record be part of the job qualifications?

At this point in the campaign, I’d rather spoil my ballot or not vote than cast it.  I have voted in every election and referendum since I have been 18 and I have never considered not voting before.

5 thoughts on “What happened to character in politics?”

  1. Jordon, I think you need to take a trip to an MLA’s office and find out how these people work at helping their constituents work their way through the layers of bureaucracy that make up our governments. Sitting in the Lege is only one very small part of their job.

    1. One of our local MLA’s spent months before they even set up an office. Another one I have repeatedly email and gotten back a “mailbox” is full from all of their email addresses. I am not sure all work that hard at all.

  2. Yes, please do, Jordon. Because fact is, even when trying to get help at any MLA’s office, they are just as baffled and confused by the layers of bureaucracy as many of us are. What I’d like to be told, just once, is the right people or persons who actually KNOW something and who has the answers we are looking for. The MLA’s office made an effort and was capable of doing, even writing out complaints and letters for the constituents, but with excess red tape and boards, top heavy administration, it seems no one knows their own job, let alone pass you to the correct individual that can help you!
    Jordon, p l e a s e run for municipal government, city council, anything. We need people like you, who understand the frustration of the rest of us. Many of us do not have a voice because we cannot articulate quite as well as you do!
    Still time to get your name in for City Council!

  3. For what it’s worth, I’ve always leaned towards spoiling my ballot if I don’t like the choices than not making the effort at all. As for the DUIs, I agree in part. But I wouldn’t say a clean criminal record is a necessity, nor is a DUI an automatic out. What has the person done since then? Assuming they’ve served their penalty, have they actively tried to correct their moral wrong in endangering others? Hypothetically, if someone got a DUI at 20, then spent years volunteering for MADD as a personal penance, would you want them to withdraw? My guess is in these cases, that’s typically NOT the case, but it’s something worth considering.

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