Editorial: Culture of Entitlement has to stop

Entitlement seems to be the norm among many politicians

Most political fiascoes fade away. Proroguing parliament can hurry it along. Or, in the case of B.C. politics, simply announce you’re not sitting for, oh, most of the session seems to do the trick.

But there’s a different kind of storm brewing, one that governments can’t seem to spin off the table and out of public scrutiny.

It’s the Culture of Entitlement storm. It seems to go hand-in-hand with being one of the upper echelon these days.

It has an impressive list of honourary (not honourable) members, and includes the likes of Linda Reid, Jenny Kwan, Alison Redford, Mac Harb, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Patrick Brazeau, and Bev Oda (remember the orange juice?).  And … and … and ….

Oh boy that list sure gets long! So, what is a politician to do? Especially when your own party members (and in all likelihood yourself) are ensnared in the Culture of Entitlement.

If the voting public in B.C. is looking to the party of opposition for leadership by example, they won’t find it. One of their own got caught benefitting from the proceeds of the public purse. So Adrian Dix appears to be content with mumbling about Jenny Kwan’s “right decision” and ducking the issue. Probably in the hopes that this storm, too, will pass.

This tactic-of-old may have once been a good one. Any politician worth her salt knows that elephants never forget, but voters sure as heck do.

But, like I said earlier, this storm is one of epic proportions, and it’s being fed from multiple sources. Politicians. Crown corporations. Executive officers. Banks. Telecommunication companies. Multinationals. The list goes on. And because the reference base comes from almost anywhere amongst the membership of the one per cent club, and because there really is no singular supreme leader (that we know of), the spin is not really controllable.

But sometimes, clearly, answers don’t come from the top. Sometimes they come from those scraping the bottom of the existence-barrel. So let me give it a whirl. My recommendation would be: Begin again.

On behalf of the people, the opposition needs to rant and rave against entitlement. Adrian Dix, you’re on your way out, what do you have to lose? Maybe it’s time to learn from Marvin the Martian, who ever so famously said, “This makes me very angry, very angry indeed.” And at the same time as you are saying that, attend to the business of cleaning up your own house. And after doing that, for goodness sakes set a gold standard.

This standard would include an expense policy so clear and simple that even a Canadian senator can understand it. It would include transparency not just in name but also in fact, with a public record of spending published each month.

And then, hold your party to this standard. Next, when you have more or less cleaned up your act, challenge the party at the helm to follow your example.

It is time for those in position of power, in the name of democracy, to begin again. But this time, instead of focussing on entitlement, how about focussing on genuine integrity and honour? It’s really time to get back to the business of serving those you are meant to: your constituents. Not yourself.

 

Britt Santowski is a reporter for the Sooke News Mirror.

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