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Politicians behaving badly - why wouldn't we be cynical

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Having spent a lot of time around politicians over the years, first as a legislative reporter and in more recent years as a communications consultant, I know that most of the many of whom I crossed paths with got involved for the right reasons.

 

Obviously, there were politicians whom I had more respect for than others, but political stripe had precious little to do with it. No party, I found, has a monopoly on principled people, but make no mistake, there were far more good ones than ones that were, how should I put it delicately, ethically challenged.

 

So I never shared the cynicism much of the population has for our politicians, but I can certainly understand it. And these days, that lack of cynicism is being tested like it's never been tested before.

 

I'm not even talking about the mayors of Toronto and Montreal despite their best efforts to chip away at whatever respect we have for elected office. No, I'm thinking about what's going on in Ottawa these days.

 

We've got Prime Minister Harper being as obstructionist as possible on all manner of files, including most recently the Senate scandal. We've got his potential successor Justin Trudeau charging charities up to $20,000 for a speech, and Harper's other potential successor Thomas Mulcair allegedly saying “don't you know who I am?” to an RCMP officer who stopped him for blowing through a security checkpoint and several stop signs.

 

Talk about politicians behaving badly. Egos run amuck, poor judgments, compromised principles – is there any wonder ordinary Canadians feel a disconnect with our political leadership? Who among these, can we feel comfortable relating to?  Is there any wonder people are turned off so much that many have given up and don't even vote anymore?

 

I will never go that far. The right to vote is too precious. But before I do next time, could I see whoever is behind door #4.  Optimism springs eternal.

 

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