For our readers old enough to remember, there used to be a popular TV/radio show hosted by the venerable Art Linkletter called “Kids Say The Darndest Things.”
It centered around cute comments kids would make about their parents, school or life in general. It generated a lot of laughs at a time when jokes didn’t have to be dirty or profane, just funny.
But there’s nothing funny about the things coming out of some politicians’ mouths these days.
Writing that many provincial and federal politicians are out of touch with reality is like admitting there’s some uncertainty surrounding Roberto Luongo’s future with the Vancouver Canucks. Both facts are so true that it doesn’t even muster debate.
However, I can’t seem to shake from my head a few comments from our supposed leaders in the last week.
On Friday we ran a story on the Cowichan school district’s adoption of a budget deficit. A deficit budget is deemed illegal by the province under its School Act and allows the ministry to fire members of the school board.
Like many school districts, Cowichan has slashed millions over the last few years. And like many districts, the board is struggling to find a balance between education and fiscal responsibility.
In our region alone, jobs and programs are on the chopping block from Grand Forks to Cranbrook and everywhere in between.
Communities are fighting to save their schools, teachers are fighting to save their jobs and students are fighting to save their education. Basically from one end of the province to other, school boards have been put in the near-impossible position of balancing a budget on the backs of our children’s education.
However, Education Minister George Abbott doesn’t see it that way. He sees it as Cowichan’s problem and theirs alone.
“There are 60 school districts in this province. There is only one that is claiming they’re unable to balance their budget,” he told the Cowichan News Leader Pictorial.
Is his head so far in the sand that he can’t even see the clouds on the horizon? Does it take every school district in the province to adopt a deficit budget before he realizes there’s a problem? Does he not see the stress that most boards are under and the climate it has created in so many school districts?
It’s that kind of disconnect with the realities of society that have people up in arms over the failure of the current political system and the people in charge.
It’s that type of stupid reply that has people so frustrated with government that the student protest in Quebec has suddenly grown into something much bigger than simply fighting against tuition increases.
For Abbott to dismiss the Cowichan district’s inability to balance a budget as somehow a problem they created is the height of hypocrisy.
The same sort of hypocrisy that came on the heels of a news story on Wednesday where seven Conservative MPs have a lawyer asking the court to stop any reviews of election results in their ridings.
Again, the political system has been called into question backed by accusations of voting irregularities, robocalls and all-around dirty tricks.
A rational person would say, “Please investigate this so we can assure people that the system is just, fair and above suspicion.”
Conservative MPs might support legislation allowing the government to pry into our email accounts on the basis that “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.”
But when the spotlight shines on their riding, suddenly it becomes a waste of time. Their lawyers cite rules and timelines that don’t allow for reviews as if a calendar or regulation prohibits making sure the election process is above the board. If they owe their cushy pensions to anything, it’s the current electoral process. However, now they’re hoping Canadians overlook that basic process.
Of course these examples aren’t the only ones to utter head-scratching responses.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, depicted in the above cartoon, will hear his “no such thing as a bad job,” comment for years.
While that could be classified as typical political rhetoric, Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks was backtracking after announcing he was among many Conservative backbenchers against the Tories huge crime bill crammed with so many other provisions.
When pushed to clarify he opened his mouth and uttered, “One MP is not going to make a difference.” Nice vote of confidence for the constituents who elected you Mr. Wilks.
Perhaps we should change that to “308 MPs aren’t going to make a difference.”
The worst thing that could happen to politicians is the current Stanley Cup playoffs. Like our recent Trail Times poll indicated, most people have lost interest in the playoffs.
With no Montreal Canadiens in the post-season, it has no doubt added to the massive support for the protests in that city. Imagine the turn out for a street protest if the Habs were playing in a Game 7?
With the Vancouver Canucks out, there’s no talk of Sedins or Luongo to distract citizens from important issues facing the province.
But politicians aren’t stupid. They know they just have to hang on long enough for a summer recess.
By fall, there will be another topic to chew on and their comments on school districts and election reviews will be forgotten and, sadly, even more inane, out-of-touch comments will surface in their place.
That’s the darndest thing of all.