Thursday, April 26, 2007

Faint Hope in a Time of Distrust

When new political leaders come on the scene and want to build a support base they will often say what they know will please a particular regions palate. Example, Stephen Harper promising a too good to be true deal on equalization, and then avoiding the issue until B Day. While Stéphane Dion is reservedly saying agreeable things so far, which seems to be making a good impression on Premier Williams, he has not actually promised anything. He basically said "I am a man of honour who sticks to commitments." That's fine if you've made a commitment, better if it's in detailed writing, and best if there is some legal obligation to it.

He did say a Liberal government would respect the offshore accord without capping the amount of money East coast provinces can receive in offshore revenue and equalization. The next time a potential Prime Minister makes a commitment/promise in writing, there should be more detail. You can promise things with general wording, and if you have lived up to a small part of that, then you can argue, promise kept. It's like a food item advertising "fat free". One might have thought when these types of phrases first appeared on packaging, that there was a zero fat. Now it can mean 50%, 75% or 20% fat free, plus with other harmful things like a certain amount of trans fats. But still it's not lying to call itself "fat free" because it's true to an extent.

If possible the next time, any "equalization promise" should be legally binding, with clear specifics, especially since it deals with huge amounts of money, and is a politically touchy issue. Why not have Wade Locke-type analyses done by federal and provincial officials based on such detail to give us a more informed picture of what promises will actually entail. If this is not realistic to expect prior to a leader like Dion possibly becoming PM, then we still only have to cross our fingers and hope that the potential new parent of the mother country is trustworthy, objective, and has fair sense of how to treat the family.


Edward G. Hollett said...

One point to note: nothing in the federal Equalization changes reduces the province's offshore oil revenues.

kodak said...

That is true and I did actually realize that, but should have "quoted" that section which is how CTV described a statement from Dion.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. While Mr. Dions words are nice to hear until something is actually delivered one has no choice but to remain doubtful. At this point we should not accept the word of Mr. Dion any more that the word of Mr. Harper ( in other words not at all ).

kodak said...

Anon, though we've all witnessed broken promises from countless politicians, or seen them on the take or in some controversial affair, it amazes me because apparently the lure of either political or economic personal gain is greater than the risk of losing a positive honest reputation.