(written May 11, 2006):
A writer identifying himself as "Bob" made some good observations in his May 11, 2006 Pulse Niagara letter regarding Jim Bradley, like when he wrote that “rhetoric is a part of a politician’s job in an adversarial position, just like a lawyer’s”. The question is when does a politician’s rhetoric become a lie? Even lawyers can’t really get away with lying under oath. A politician’s stock-in-trade is that we won’t know the difference. Sometimes I wonder if even they can differentiate or keep track of their fluid positions. Bending the truth? Stretching the facts? Lying by omission? Lie and deny, then oppose and obstruct?
Where is the integrity, honesty, openness and transparency we deserve from our elected reps? The repudiation of Liberal arrogance played a significant factor in the last federal election. We continually strive to find politicians who will do what they said they would do, rather than pander to us with empty promises.
It’s not enough to be complacent about a politician’s antics while they’re in opposition, especially when they aspire to cabinet. Bob wrote that politicians insultingly underestimate our intelligence, yet we still fall for their spin. The current crop of McGuinty Liberals made a whack of promises prior to being elected in 2003. How many have they lied about and broken since?
Bob wrote that the time to watch a politician is when they’re in power. It’s also important to have a perspective on what they used to say in opposition, too, before they become hypocrites.
Even back in 1986 The Toronto Star was questioning “whether Liberals will be true to the environmental positions they took while languishing on the opposition benches”. Remember Ontario’s Liberals huffing and puffing to cancel the Darlington nuclear plant, or the Oxford landfill, and then in government (with Bradley as cabinet minister) changing their mind?
In opposition, Bradley badgered the government to provide St. Catharines with GO train service, and was against spending money on improving the QEW. But even after serving as cabinet minister in two majority governments, Bradley brought us no GO Train and his Liberals are proceeding to expand the QEW.
Bradley was involved in some notable achievements, as Bob alluded to, such as: working on acid rain scrubbers for industry, on reducing CFC’s, on reducing leaded gasoline, on proclaiming the Spills Bill.
During the 1989 ‘tainted gas’ incident, Bradley caused an uproar after admitting that, for several months, he kept information from the public that toxic gasoline was sold in Ontario. The opposition even walked out of the Legislature in protest. Bob Rae – now a Liberal confrere – called Bradley’s delays a “bloody disgrace” and demanded that Bradley resign.
Some locals have praised Bradley for his recent decisive action to improve the deadly QEW Niagara on-ramp. Others point out that before Bradley’s 30 year stint as an MPP, he was also a St. Catharines councillor, and ask: What took so long?
And it’s not really safe yet, is it?