I know everyone now expects politicians
to be men (and women) of the people, but whatever happened to
Every politician feels they have to make
a spectacle of themselves to get attention. Trudeau did backflips
off the diving board and pirouettes behind the Queen. Mulroney
got on stage and sang "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling".
Chretien has given us everything from scooter rides to white
And it's not just Canada. It wasn't that
long ago that Russian President Boris Yeltsin was up on stage
at a rock concert leaping around like a vodka-powered dancing
bear. A week or so ago New York Mayor Gulliani was on TV emceeing
a contest get this for singing dogs.
I'm not sure "dignity" is even
in Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman's vocabulary, and he's one of the
most successful politicians in Canada. There isn't anything he
won't eat, ride or wear if it means he might get his picture
in the paper.
And of course we had Stockwell Day showing
up for a press conference in a wetsuit riding to shore on the
most annoying means of water transportation ever invented. I'm
not sure what it was supposed to prove. It was like Baywatch
goes to Ottawa.
I keep wondering what's next. A pie eating
contest for Supreme Court Justices? A dunking tank to choose
Canada's next appointment to the UN?
It used to be we elected our leaders
because they had vision or policies we respected. We sent them
to Ottawa or the Legislature or City Hall because they were smart
or at least sensible. After all, what's the point of electing
someone dumber than you?
You'd like to think that we elect the
best and brightest to public office, but we both know that's
not really the case. The hours are long, there's not that much
money especially if you're honest and you don't get
a lot of respect. In fact, you pretty much have to have a screw
loose to want to be in politics. It's just about a job requirement.
After all, who wants to commute all week
to a different city, just so you can come home on the weekend
to listen to the problems of the people who voted for you (or
at least claim they voted for you)? Every time there's a block
party, meeting of local crackpots or sewer opening, you're expected
to be there, preferably with a fat cheque in hand.
I used to work for a politician. One
of my favourite photos was a picture in the newspaper of him
eating a mound of fried pig tails at a local fair. I have never
tried pig tails. I don't want to get angry letters from our pork
producers, but that to me showed what real politics is about
doing something you'd rather not be doing with a big smile
on your face for the camera.
Now with a general election in the wind
I fear the worst. We'll see the leaders of all the parties compete
with feats of strength and athletic photo ops. All except the
NDP of course. They're above this pandering to the juvenile interests
of the public, which is why they'll finish dead last again.
Everyone else will be running with the
bulls, bungee jumping or wrestling alligators to prove that they
have the ideas and dignity necessary to govern us.