Thoughts on corruption and parties
The Journal has a quick look at the election campaign with a few poll numbers stretched into an infographic; the Toronto Star reports on a very recent poll suggesting that we’re so jaded we don’t think even Jacques Duchesneau could do anything about corruption here.
Here’s a thought. Maybe it isn’t the Liberals as such, maybe it’s the basic structure of our governments and parties that engenders corruption. You join a party and work and work to get into power, and then you’re elected. For four years you have a window where your level of power over certain decisions is so overwhelming that people will bribe you and blandish you to get you to make choices that will favour them. Of course they will, and of course people will crack, especially if the offers are of the subtle and persuasive sort that push previously honest people over the edge.
Here’s another area where proportional representation, with its more widely scattered distribution of political power, the necessity for parties to collaborate and compromise, might work out better for us. We may need to get past the ideal of the one big strong leader, and think more about a distribution of decision-making. Less pooling of power in a small number of hands means less opportunity for corruption to seep into the structure.
So much effort in a campaign is given to showy demonstrations of why Party A is better and different than Party B, even if we know intellectually that the social and economic facts are what they are and that the party differences are largely cosmetic, like sports teams wearing different colours so you can tell them apart on the field. And like sports fans, we pick our colour and cheer our side. But in the long run, this may be a hell of a poor way to run a country.