Rambling by Doug Bell

We can all feel at home these days with writer Mark Twain’s words: “Get your facts first and then you can distort them as much as you…

We can all feel at home these days with writer Mark Twain’s words: “Get your facts first and then you can distort them as much as you please.”

Or as anonymous noted, some go into politics not to do good, but to do well.

Values eh?

More than one politician in our current electoral rodeo has said, “This election is about values.”

Another said, “Canadian values are my values,” and as I was typing this, another spouted on television live, “We promise a government that will play by the rules.”

Past governments have played by the rules too — their rules, resulting in a legacy of endless discussions about ethics in high places.

The discussions have suggested strongly that the ethical rules of too many of today’s “leaders” are either different than those the rest of us live by, or they’ve forgotten in the heat of political battle.

Yeah, right!

Anyway, the latest down-to-earth versions of grass roots ethical rules I’ve found have been roaming around for a decade now.

Here they are, courtesy of The Hill Times, a newspaper devoted to telling us all about the famous, or infamous, Hill people of Ottawa.

The paper, authored by professors Maureen Mancuso, of the University of Guelph, and Michael M. Atkinson, of the University of Saskatchewan, is the result of 80 questions posed to 1,419 Canadians in early 1996, on the ethics of politicians.

The report is titled: Rules to Rule By: Advice for Elected Officials from Canadians.

“1) MPs shouldn’t worry too much about their private lives because the public is more understanding than they were led to believe, so long as they ‘play straight’ in their official capacity and keep their friends out of the public purse.

2) MPs shouldn’t whine about how much they are paid, even if it is true, because politicians have an image problem worse than ‘the most pampered celebrity, the most prima donna pro athlete.’

3) MPs shouldn’t forget they’re private citizens and the fact they have a special job for a while doesn’t make them special people.

4) MPs should listen to the people, and not the media. The people elected the politicians, not the media, and, believe it or not, sometimes the people like the politicians more than the media.

5) MPs should stop waffling on a formal code for conflict of interest and just create one. They should take the initiative and show the people they’re big enough to admit they need guidance. The people might just appreciate the candor.

6) Finally, politicians should never make a promise they won’t, can’t, shouldn’t or even might not be able to keep. There is nothing more damaging to their reputation.”

Since this is available, is in plain English, listing the values expected from grassroots voting Canadians, is there really a need to spend countless weeks or months in the next Parliament yapping about it, and wrapping them in legislative and regulatory gobbledygook?

Why not have them mounted, permanently on every desk in the place, and get on with governing the country?

They’re going on our fridge, as a measure in future elections too!

“We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.” (Dwight Eisenhower, general and 34th US president)

A tip of the hat to voters everywhere, and a slap on the head with a hard hat for the originators of attack ads in our election campaigns.

Mark Twain was right when he said, “Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to.”

I wonder if we’ll get a great big thank you from all parties for giving them our X as well as $1.75 of our tax dollars.

Is there anything we citizens don’t pay for?

Oh, well, “God gave us memories that we might have roses in winter.”

So enjoy your memories and, if winter roses don’t cut it, another winter thought from George Bain in the Globe and Mail in 1982: “No minister in Canadian history has ever led a trade mission to Norway in January.”

Maybe that too will change, eh?

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