Can politicians be honest and have integrity?
By Margaret Matthews, Senior Columnist
Upon hearing the news that New Brunswick has recently elected a new premier, 32-year-old Brian Alexander Gallant—a Liberal, who graduated from McGill University with a Masters in law, and practiced law in New Brunswick—my first impression was that he’s a clean-cut, dynamic, and promising young man. Subsequently, Gallant appeared on public television and said that he was humbled to be given the opportunity to serve New Brunswickians, and that his top priority in government will be job creation, education and training, and changing the political culture.
He is acclaimed as Canada’s youngest premier, and while some young people have maturity and wisdom beyond their years, oftentimes in political circles the environment clouds their integrity. “By beholding we become changed” is an adage that is true in many cases.
Environment shouldn’t play an important part in making decisions, and no matter what goes on around in the political arena by way of manipulation, conniving, bribery, and corruption. Politicians can be honest and have integrity, like the water lily that remains clean while growing in a stagnant pond.
When a politician fails with the first lapse of integrity—be it ever so trivial—their reputation invariably may spiral downward, until the misdemeanours continue and escalate to larger scales. And when there is accountability and transparency required of them, they are put to shame; citizens who placed their faith and trust in the politician as their leader will regret having elected them into office.
I reflected on some of the other politicians who have misappropriated thousands of dollars and have made gross indiscretions in utilizing the taxpayer’s money to fund their own personal expenses like family weddings, pleasure trips, and vacation homes. Justice has to be meted out; they need to be removed from office or be required to pay back everything that they took unethically.
It’s important to realize that politicians’ actions, behaviour, conduct, lifestyle, and the decisions they make will be closely scrutinized by the general public. Their reputation is at stake, so it would be in their best interests to live an exemplary lifestyle and be a role model to their constituents. Voters will undoubtedly be proud of them, and not regret having elected them into office as political leaders.