Last week’s Globe carried a story with the headline "Politician’s promises not set in stone, court says". The Canadian Taxpayers Federation took Dalton McGuinty to court over a broken promise. In a much publicized media event during his campaign, McGuinty promised not to raise taxes, and then promptly jacked up taxes when he got into power. The court said that campaign promises couldn’t be construed as a legally binding contract.
The judge wrote "anyone who believes a campaign promise is naive about the democratic system", and "Imposing a duty of care in the circumstances such as exist in the present case would have a chilling effect and would interfere with the concept of parliamentary sovereignty."
By this reasoning, elections are a total farce. Democracy is reduced to a parade of empty promises, foisted on a gullible public by politicians in search of a steady job. Why wouldn’t the electorate, either in a fit of cynicism or stupidity, vote themselves bread and circuses?
Here’s a thought experiment for us all. What if there were a penalty for failing to live up to campaign promises? What if, like the hit TV show "The Apprentice", the penalty for failing to live up to a substantial percentage of election promises was that the leader of the party in power was ineligible to run in the next election?
Dalton McGuinty – YOU’RE FIRED!