Politicians Work For Us

Edmonton - Tuesday, September 9, 2003 - by: Ron Thornton


For the last time, over the course of the next three or four years, Canadians will actually matter to those who govern them. You see, at the conclusion of this period that began last April and will continue for the next year, eight provincial governments and likely the federal regime will have faced the electorate. This is a time when politicians will need to talk about what concerns us, it is to be hoped they will come up with real solutions to what really matters to us. They might actually have to face the music for their failures, be they those in power who have proved unworthy of our trust or opposition hopefuls who failed to strike an emotional cord within the electorate and lost the opportunity to do better on our behalf.




I want to hear about quality education. With only nineteen students in my sons' class and great administrators in place within their school, I am content. I was not so content last year with a class size of thirty-three nor, I suspect, are those parents who find themselves in the same boat this term. There was a time a teacher could teach a class of thirty, where the classroom was for education and not babysitting, where students could be disciplined, who faced the prospect of failure for not buckling down. There was a time when parents actually played some positive role in the process and had some clue and interest their child's development. Does anyone running for office have a creative solution that might actually work, with the guts to stand up for something?


I want to hear about effective health care. My family has thus far been unaffected by SARS and the West Nile Virus, and have not had to wait in a hospital for hours for someone to do a ten minute patch job in order to send us on our way. If that were not the case, I can assure you that I would not be understanding in the least nor interested in hearing any excuses. Does anyone have any creative ideas regarding funding health care and providing research for what may threaten us today and in the future?




I want to hear about affordable automobile insurance. Neither my wife or I have had so much as a traffic ticket over the past twenty-five years, yet our premiums are high. Still, as our sons are eight years away from driving, it could be worse. I am sure the parents of my three nieces in their late teens think so as they try to figure out how they can afford the financial hit. Without a satisfactory resolution to their situation, they might be tempted to follow the example of many good people in New Brunswick and turn to those in opposition to provide a solution.




I want to hear about meaningful institutional change. The times have changed since 1867. In 2003 Canada, men and women, the rich and the poor, now have the right to vote in a land that consists of not just three regions with access to the Atlantic, but ten distinct provinces and three territories touching three seas. I want to hear about democracy in action, where judges are more than the anonymous political appointees of any one individual, and where our elected representatives fulfil their duty and represent us, and not some political puppeteer. If our society and our cultural values should change then it should be the people, and not some pompous unaccountable elitist overlords, who determine those changes.


I want to hear how such things might come to pass. I want to be assured that those who make the promises have actually took the time to figure out the nuts and bolts of what they speak of. I should expect more from a politician than a series of catch phrases or vague theories or even schemes to reorganize their political party. With such a brief window of opportunity, we should not waste it on those who will take us for granted for another four or five years. In fact, I think the only wasted vote is one that you come to regret. Expect more, demand more, from those who now turn to you for your vote, your time, and your financial donations. It is only at times such as these that we can remind them that they work for us.


Ron Thornton




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