EDITORIAL: Ode to Politicians

Try this the next time you have contact with candidate or politician: say thanks.

Put away for a moment any disdain you have for politicians.

As we face a byelection in Parksville and things start to heat up for the May, 2017 provincial election, we thought we’d take a different, perhaps unpopular view today about those who both seek and serve as elected representatives.

We are often the first to criticize politicians, so this semi-tribute isn’t in our comfort zone either.

Most of the people who are quick to criticize those who seek elected office have never stood for office themselves. There is no other job where you must put your name on a ballot and get the approval of the general public.

Just putting your name out there takes guts. Then there’s the job interview, the campaign. If the candidate has a record of representation, that record is scrutinized in detail. If there’s no record, well, that can be painted as a negative.

When someone puts their name on a ballot, both the public and the media believe these people are now fair game to call at any time with any question. The candidate who ignores the questioning does so at his/her peril.

Go through all this and more and then, after you find out if you get the job, the scrutiny gets even worse.

We seem to be a little more respectful than our southern cousins on this, but personal issues and family can come under an unfriendly microscope for both a candidate and a working politician. To us, that’s offside, but it happens.

Some people also seem to think it’s OK to call politicians nasty names or make all kinds of wild accusations on social media. Having to weather that kind of garbage should not be on anyone’s job description.

To suggest politicians should expect disrespectful scorn because they are paid with taxpayer money is also unfair. A municipal councillor around here makes less than $20,000/year. A provincial cabinet minister makes around $150,000. Deputy ministers and city CAOs make close to that or more. Regardless, what a person makes does not automatically open them up for hateful abuse. If you believe we need politicians and experienced/educated bureaucrats to run our governments, then you must also expect to pay them. Comparisons to what a person on disability or social assistance gets a month (and they get way less than what’s reasonable, we understand that) to what a politician is paid a month are not arguments with much meat or traction or relevance.

Try this the next time you have contact with candidate or politician: say thanks.

— Editorial by John Harding

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