The Observer’s opinion piece on Jan. 3, 2020, was entitled “Transparency, noble yet elusive.”
The writer suggested the more Canadians know about what politicians are doing, the better. But this is true only in a well functioning democracy where citizens use the information they learn to hold their politicians to account. And in too may places in Canada democracy isn’t very healthy. Some recent examples illustrate this.
Dominic LeBlanc, a senior member of the federal Liberal government, clearly violated ethics laws in 2018. Mr. LeBlanc should have lost his job but constituents re-elected him knowing he wasn’t trustworthy. Locally, in 2015 we re-elected a Conservative knowing the Harper government was scandal plagued and unethical. MP Mel Arnold was re-elected in 2019 with a record of underperformance and overspending.
In 2017 we re-elected Liberal MLA Greg Kyllo knowing he was part of Christy Clark’s corrupt government.
Transparency in politics is only valuable if voters use it to hold politicians responsible for their action/inaction. Otherwise, it’s like hiring the same plumber who after every job takes your money but leaves you with an overflowing toilet. This situation is transparent, there is sewage on the floor. There are two choices. You can reward this plumber by continuing to pay him/her no matter how incompetent or dishonest they have been in the past, or you can hold them to account by hiring someone that can actually fix a plugged toilet.
Transparency isn’t enough in a democracy. Canadians have to hold politicians to account. Remember that transparent problem on the bathroom floor – it’s just going to get worse until we start taking accountability more seriously.