NEW NORMALCY POST COVID-19
It would appear that Covid-19 has nearly passed through, at least for the time being, and we soon will be opening up for business, albeit with logical restrictions. We continue to applaud our leaders at all political levels who assisted in every possible way to mitigate the distress and hardships for many people. But this has been done at a cost which is yet to be determined. It has been said that you can run into debt but you have to crawl out. While the numbers are not exact, the Federal Government’s debt level will soon reach $1Trillion dollars and rise from 34% of GDP to 53%. In New Brunswick, it has yet to be determined, but our estimate is $250-$300 million dollars that has been spent over the past few months -debt that we can ill afford.
Even before the virus, our organization, Coalition of Concerned Citizens (CCC) has been beating the drum for major restructuring of the Province. This includes municipal reform, health and long term care, education, economic growth and immigration to name a few. This is even more critical as we evolve into a new normalcy.
There are positives as a result of the virus. One of the main ones is that all political leaders are working together for a better tomorrow. While we applaud this collaboration, we are doubtful it will last forever. It is very difficult for politicians not to be political. We could very well expect an election call later on this year.
While much has been written and discussed about the whys and wherefores of our situation, there seems to be one underlying factor that has been omitted in these discussions. And that is, that we, the citizens have the power to make changes we believe are necessary. All elected politicians serve at our discretions. The governments we elect are our responsibility. We therefore should declare upfront what we expect from our politicians and hold them accountable for their actions during their term of office. As Ralph Klein aptly said, “Show me the parade and I will lead”
CCC has crafted for your consideration and action, Pledges of Commitment. The first is a Pledge for all voters and the second is a Pledge for All Candidates running for office. Having an agreed upon set of expectations and an understanding of what will happen if these commitments are not fulfilled, forms the necessary bond between those in power and those that elect them.
- IT IS MY RESPONSIBILITY TO UNDERSTAND THE ISSUES THAT I AM TO VOTE ON. An uneducated electorate means that politicians will appeal to the lowest common denominator which in turn will never raise the bar of expectation beyond mediocrity or status quo. Failure to understand the issues implies lack of interest and ultimately means the electorate get the government they deserve not necessarily want.
- I VALUE HONEST AND TRANSPARENCY IN MY REPRESENTATIVE. Lies and cover ups will no longer be tolerated. As a citizen and voter I accept the fact that people make mistakes. So, when a mistake is made have the decency and integrity to admit your error. My vote is important to me and I am voting for the person who I believe is worthy of the office he/she is seeking. By lying or covering up you are betraying this implied pact and will lose my vote.
- MY VOTE CANNOT BE BOUGHT. To think that throwing money at my district makes you or your party more attractive is a falsehood. To think that running up the deficit promotes good financial stewardship is also a falsehood. Until you can convince me of proper, long term, sustainable financial planning you are not worthy of my vote.
- I RECOGNIZE AND ACCEPT THAT THE INTERESTS OF THE PROVINCE TAKE PRECEDENCE OR MAY EVEN BE IN CONFLICT WITH THOSE OF MY RIDING/CONSTITUENCY. As an informed voter I recognize that a “tit for tat” management philosophy is doomed. What I really want to know is what are the key objectives and strategies for the province. I do not want to hear that because a project takes place in Moncton than Saint John or Fredericton are similarly owed. The same goes for a project that takes place, in Northern New Brunswick that somehow Southern New Brunswick is owed. We don’t have a very big financial “pie” to use and the constant dividing up our “pie” in increasingly smaller slices does not bode well for our economic future.
- I EXPECT MY ELECTED REPRESENTATIVE TO SIGN HIS/HER PLEDGE AND I PLEDGE TO KEEP MY REPRESENTATIVE ACCOUNTABLE TO THESE COMMITMENTS. This simply means there is mutual accountability and respect between the elected and the electorate.
- I PLEDGE TO MAKE MY DECISIONS BASED ON FACTS AND NOT SOLELY ON PARTY LINES OR CATER TO SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS. This means having the ability and willingness to ask the “tough” questions and not being satisfied by status quo answers. This will not always be the easy or safe course of action but if you believe that serving the best interest of our citizens is job 1 then maybe the path forward becomes clearer.
- I AM WILLING TO CHANGE MY MIND WHEN PERSUADED BY INFORMATION I HAD NOT CONSIDERED. There is nothing more frustrating for a citizen then to witness a politician tied to a decision before all the facts are in or when new facts emerge. Trying to justify a decision based on old or inaccurate information is just plain foolish. It is high time that politicians recognize that voters are not stupid and they can smell a phony decision a mile away. Want proof, just ask us.
- I PLEDGE TO EXPLAIN MY DECISIONS AND POSITIONS IN A TIMELY, LOGICAL MANNER. This is about accountability again. Don’t keep us in the dark or feed us promises. Tell us what you did and why you did it in a timely, straightforward way. This shouldn’t be an issue but far too often the basics have been forgotten or are deliberately ignored.
- I PLEDGE NOT TO RUN ANY NEGATIVE STYLE CAMPAIGNS. Simply put, we want to see civility and respect in our elections. The American style anger and attack style campaigns have no place in our democracy. We want the high road taken.
- IT IS AN HONOUR AND PRIVILEGE TO SERVE AND THAT I WILL RESPECT THE OFFICE AND TREAT IT WITH THE DIGNITY IT AND OUR CITIZENS DESERVE. No explanation required!
By collectively holding ourselves and our elected representatives accountable for these basic principles perhaps we can begin to make changes that will benefit our province and our country for the long term. These principles require citizens and elected representatives to be honest and candid in their actions. If we can get to the point where decisions by governing bodies are made on fact not on political whim or in the interests of a few then I believe we can create a viable and sustainable basis for positive long term change. For more information about the Coalition go to our webpage www.coalitionnb.com or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org , telephone 1-506-451-1357.