OUR VIEW: Too many secrets

Despite years of openness promises, politicians still keep too many secrets

Almost every election, whether it be local, provincial or federal, there are bound to be some politicians telling us they are going to bring more openness and transparency to government.

By now, if they had all followed through, every conversation, every memo, every communication, every meeting would be available for public review.

Clearly, not many elected politicians ever followed through on those openness and transparency promises.

It’s unlikely we’ll ever see much change on this front. Even if serious policy changes were made requiring more openness on the part of politicians and bureaucrats, their effectiveness would be questionable. There are just too many ways to keep conversations off the books, from chatting at the watercooler or other informal discussions.

The question is, does it matter? It can be argued that some deal-making has to take place behind closed doors so that the parties can negotiate openly.

Well, we saw the results of that with the whole SNC-Lavalin affair. It would be naive to think this was the only time such an incident occurred, or that it is something limited to the Trudeau’s Liberal government.

It’s likely that almost every government, Conservative or Liberal, has done something like this behind closed doors at one time or another, during their time in power. Of course, with the process being hidden, it just makes it all the worse when it comes into public view. And when it does, politicians, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in this case, make the outrage even worse by trying to continue the cover-up.

It’s also true at a personal level for politicians, as was observed in Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s resignation last week. Speaking in Parliament, he talked about needing to devote more time to his family and other pressures of leadership.

He didn’t talk about allegations he used Conservative party funds to pay for his children’s private school. The party later said it was an authorized expense, but we will likely never know the full story.

Like his misleading information about his previous career and dual citizenship during the election campaign, he would have been better to address the issue forthrightly and before it became a problem.

There’s a lesson there for all our aspiring political leaders.

–Black Press