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Legislative Report (14 December 2005)

Legislative Report

14 December 2005

Over the past few weeks, Canadians have been flooded with election polls. With so many different variables, so many questions and so much interpretation from the pundits, its hard to say whos up, whos down and who is gaining the all important momentum.

However, just before the election was called, Environics Research asked just over 1,600 Canadians the following question: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: You dont really expect that politicians will keep their election promises once they are in power. The results should make all of us, voters and politicians alike, stop and pause for a moment. Just under three-quarters of those surveyed agreed with the statement. That means roughly three out of every four people in our country have accepted the idea that their elected officialsfederal, provincial and municipalare lying to them during campaigns.

Your first reactions might be shock and disbelief. Sadly, if you stop and think about it, there is all sorts of evidence to suggest this opinion is reasonable. Those old enough to remember the days of wage and price controls will remember that it was the party speaking out most strongly against these measures that quickly introduced them after the election. There was another example closer to home, this week.

The Regina QuAppelle Health Region announced it would not be able to meet the December deadline for opening 43 new hospital beds. They ran into a problem recruiting the nurses needed to open these beds.

Back in November, Health Minister John Nilson pointed to the new beds as evidence of the great success his department was having in improving the health care system, and reducing waiting lists and hospital bed shortages. So when the Saskatchewan Party asked questions about the health care system, Nilson frequently pointed to this new initiative.

Was politics behind this decision to set an unrealistic deadline? Did the decision to time this announcement so it occurred just prior to the start of the Fall Session of the Legislature a coincidence, or was it an attempt by the government to help defend its dismal record on health care? Well never know. Now the Health District is bending over backwards to take the rap for failing to meet the deadline. Im sure thats not where the blame should lie.

Yes, all of the beds will eventually come in the New Year. And yes some of the beds are already open. But the damage to credibility has already been done. People will have one more example to cite about how governments say one thing, and then do another.

Farmers know you can use the land like theres no tomorrow, or you can make decisions that you know will pay off in the long run.

Politicians can learn from this. They can mean what they say and say what they mean so that voters have some confidence in what is heard. Or those who get elected can keep making short term promises they know cant be kept in order to gain some immediate advantage.

However if those in government keep failing to keep their promises, well keep seeing polls telling us that voters are cynical and dont believe their elected officials.

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