One of the things that I have never enjoyed about politics – provincially or federally – is ‘Question Period.’ I understand its intent, naturally. However, when weighing the intent with the activity it leaves much to be desired.
Admittedly, I’m not sure when it happened but the discussion in Question Period has most certainly shifted over time to what feels like an all-time low. What was once an exercise in asking poignant, hard-hitting questions slowly turned in to taking pot-shots. Then, over time, those pot-shots turned in to name-calling. These days, there are often times where the questions seem less about the issues and rather about leveraging Question Period to call-out the character and integrity of other elected officials.
As a result of this behaviour – a behaviour that often times can only be characterized as juvenile – I for one have almost completely stopped watching Question Period. In my estimation it has become nothing but a spectacle; though, at least here in British Columbia the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly – the Hon. Dr. Darryl Plecas, MLA – has sought to change the tone of Question Period by establishing new rules. Ironically, the first rule he established was no more name-calling – not something one grown person should have to remind another grown persons’ is inappropriate.
The reason I am especially frustrated with Question Period is two-fold. First, the example that it sets. Second, the manner in which it diminished public service.
Speaking first to the notion of the example it sets, I cannot help but think back on all the times I’ve sat in Question Period over the years. In all those instances I was among several dozen other spectators – including elementary and high-schools students who were on a tour. In one particular instance the exchange back-and-forth was so brutal that I actually left because I couldn’t stomach it. What kind of a message was this sending to these young people who were supposed to be learning about government?
Turning now to the notion of diminishing public service, I for one am beyond sick and tired of the partisan nonsense and the harsh judgements that often times go hand-in-hand. Yet again, it has very little to do with issues and more to do with political posturing. Certainly, if any institution should be held to a higher-standard it should be government!
For The Record…
Recently a friend of mine were having drinks and talking politics. He is on the ‘left’ of the ideological spectrum, while I am on the ‘right’ of the ideological spectrum. However, in many respects we both see ourselves as ‘moderates’ who simply want to see evidence-based decisions rooted in public service.
As the conversation progressed he made a comment to me that was hugely frustrating. He said the ‘left’ is suspicious of the ‘right’ whenever they hear the right talk about wanting to try to help people. After reflecting on his comment for a few days, here is where I have landed – I am angry, for two reasons.
The first reason is because I take an accusation like that personally. As someone who has dedicated a good portion of his adult life – and his career – to issues pertaining to social justice, it angers me that there are those who would have the audacity to question my values based on nothing more than a party membership; as though everyone within a singular party can be justifiably painted with the same brush.
The second reason I am angry is because we – society – have fostered this situation by not making our voices heard. We have not stood-up and said “enough with the partisanship” or “enough with the spectacle.” Instead, we have allowed political discourse to continue to become diminished only to foster an inherent resentment towards our fellow human-beings with often-times no legitimate justification.
Ironically, I am writing this column just hours after launching a series of new videos on my personal website (I am seeking an NPA Council Nomination in Vancouver) which resulted in – within minutes of posting them – someone telling me via Twitter that “Bro you don’t get to throw around words like “social justice” without defining what that means to you or how you plan to implement it. I am not her for a faux-progressive NPA.” Case-and-point!
As mentioned, this message was sent to me within minutes of me posting my videos. That means this individual did not take the time to actually review my content. Had they, they would have seen that between my credentials, newspaper columns, and testimonials, my commitment to social justice has defined who I am for over a decade. However, because of my party affiliation this person sought to judge me without seemingly any reservation. Why? Because they undoubtedly have drank the partisan Kool-Aid that defines our modern day political discourse, thereby justifying to themselves that they need not do their due-diligence.
Having said that, though I still take great offence at the notion that all those on the ‘right’ politically lack compassion towards our fellow human beings, I hold no animosity towards this person. Simply put, they are a product of previous generations that have allowed for the essence of government to become bastardized; couple with living in a day-and-age where personal accountability for ones’ words and actions doesn’t appear to mean as much.
Justin P. Goodrich is the Managing Partner at Alliance Public Affairs Group (www.alliancepag.ca).
Previous editions of For The Record can be found online at: www.patrika.ca/for-the-record.