Do Nova Scotia political parties think voters are stupid? Russell Wangersky thinks so.
The Nova Scotia Liberals, like so many political parties in this region, think we’re all a bunch of rubes stupid enough to fall for the exact same trick time after time after time
I grow tired of the political game.
Not tired of politics, nor even of government, for that matter.
But I hate the pandering – and I hate the fact that parties trying to win elections just basically think their constituents are stupid.
More and more, getting elected seems to have more to do with what you’re willing to commit to, even though you know your commitments are hollow from the moment they are made.
A year and a half ago in the Newfoundland and Labrador, the provincial Liberals came to power based on a message that they wouldn’t increase the harmonized sales tax, that they wouldn’t cut jobs. Then, they did that, and more besides, hiking HST by two per cent, the gasoline tax by more than 16 cents a litre – and they claimed that, when they were campaigning, they had no idea how bad the province’s fiscal situation actually was.
Well, if they didn’t how bad it was, they were wilfully blind.
Now, to the Nova Scotia election and the cardboard budget. Nova Scotia’s Liberals launched their election campaign on Sunday, with election day coming on May 30. That’s all fine and good – the writing’s been on the wall for a while now that a Nova Scotia campaign was coming.
The icky part? Well, before Sunday’s election call, there had to be Thursday’s budget, complete with a tax cut for 500,000 potential voters. Some 1,800 small businesses will get new tax exemptions, low-income seniors will see a larger non-refundable tax credit, and there’s money for doctor recruitment, rural Internet, and the list goes on.
It’s almost like Premier Stephen McNeil’s Liberals sat around a big table and said “How can we buy ourselves the most possible votes in the election we’re calling before a budget even gets debated?”
Oh, wait a minute. It’s not almost like that – it’s exactly like that. And that’s not the only thing it’s exactly like – it’s exactly like the Nova Scotia Liberals, like so many political parties in this region, think we’re all a bunch of rubes stupid enough to fall for the exact same trick time after time after time. Fire the jam cannon and make sure everyone gets some.
The fiscal plan for an entire government shouldn’t be a campaign stunt, just another piece of election froth that runs along the lines of a government saying, “Look how great we are.”
But then again, what else was I expecting? I grew up in Nova Scotia, where the first stop to a summer job was a trip to the nearest government member of the legislative assembly’s office to see if you could get a shelf-stocking job at the liquor corporation. A province where the joke was – and is – that during an election campaign, you have to keep moving. If you stand still, you might just get electioncampaign asphalt rolled right over you.
I read recently that one of the biggest things municipal governments need to do is to govern based on the long haul, that short-term development grabs do huge amounts of damage that can’t be undone, only mitigated. Problem is, there’s no requirement – not even an incentive – for municipal councils to do what’s right in the long run. Multi-million-dollar development proponent wants to shave some dollars off its drainage plans? Sure, no problem – flooded basements a decade from now will be someone else’s problem, right?
Sadly, I think our provincial governments, with their eyes only on the prize of the next election, are falling into the same hole. Tell people what they want to hear, even though, time after time, the promises are only as good as the faux-budget they were printed in.
And we fall for it.
“How can we buy ourselves the most possible votes in the election we’re calling before a budget even gets debated?”