Apr 3, 2011

It's Time to Stop Campaign "Promises" That Won't be Honoured

If you are a resident of Ontario, perhaps you recall Dalton McGuinty's infamous written "pledge", signed in 2003 in front of cameras during an election, "not to raise taxes" if elected. Immediately after gaining office, he and his Liberal government immediately imposed a "Health Premium" of up to $1,100 on the taxpayers of Ontario.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation took the Liberal government, and the validity of new imposed tax, to court. The CTF lost the case and a particular comment is interesting to all of us who have subsequently had to endure endless campaign promises by politicians:
If anyone who voted for a politician based on a particular promise later were to go to court alleging a breached contract, ”our system of government would be rendered dysfunctional. This would hinder, if not paralyze, the parliamentary system,” Mr. Justice Paul Rouleau said.
Absolutely the largest load of bullplops that I have heard, but whatever!

More famous/infamous lies by politicians, usually Liberal, include their 1993 Red Book that essentially stated they (if elected) would replace the GST, and would renegotiate the Free Trade Agreement. Of course they promptly ignored their promises once they took office! You can also add their perpetual "Daycare" promises in 1993, 1997, 2004, 2006, 2008 (and now again in 2011), as well as one serial-repeated whopper that Torontonians especially will identify with: $500 million for Waterfront Renewal. I'm sure that you can recall other whoppers that grilled your buns afterwards.

I believe it's time for Canadians to insist that government enact or include legislation to prevent these travesties. It's apparent by the escalation of promises recently that, even to a 5 year old child have no possibility of being kept, that it's gotten out of hand.

So, here's my cut on what needs to be done:
  1. All political promises made during an election by a party or its candidates shall be legally binding upon the party upon forming government.

  2. Promises shall be qualified as to commencement timing, escalation/decrease timing, termination timing, and specific circumstances that may inhibit the party/individual from carrying out the promise.

  3. Promises made must be kept; only exception is events clearly beyond the control of the promisor, which should have been specified (see preceeding point) at the time the promise was made.

  4. All political promises shall be fully costed, including federal and provincial financial impacts, for a period of 5 years outwards. If offsets are being used, and/or other programs being cancelled, the same data must be specified.

  5. All examples used shall include the financial impact of the specific example used, as well as all other parties with the same degree of specific qualification: e.g., if a $30,000k/year bracket is cherry-picked as an example, a table must be supplied showing impact to all other income brackets; and, if a "couple" is cherry-picked, impact to a non-couple must also be provided (and so on ...)

  6. A party/candidate not keeping its promise shall: be deemed to have lost the confidence of the House, and shall resign from power; or by majority consent of the opposition parties only, by recorded vote, be permitted to remain in power.

  7. A party/candidate not fulfilling a promise shall be exposed to civil litigation and remedies for the financial impact that non-fulfillment of the promise bright about to the plaintiff (may be class action).
This should stop those Alice-in-Wonderland promises by politicians.

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