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

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton - Rus­sell Wanger­sky Rus­sell Wanger­sky writes from St. John’s, and his col­umn ap­pears in 29 Salt Wire news­pa­pers and web­sites in At­lantic Canada. He can be reached at rwanger@thetele­gram.com — Twit­ter: @wanger­sky.

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?”

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