COLUMN: A resolution for 2014

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The year 2013 was a year dominated by headlines about unethical or irresponsible politics. At all levels of Canadian government, we saw unacceptable conduct by our officials. While politics is often perceived as involving a level of controversy, there exists a fine line between political controversy and wrongful conduct.

At the municipal level, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s inappropriate conduct sent shock waves on a constant basis. His episodes of denial and dishonesty, followed by vulgar comments and displays of anger, were absolutely not befitting of an elected official of Canada’s largest city.

At the provincial level, the current Parti Quebecois government, led by Premier Pauline Marois, proposed the Charter of Quebec Values, which would restrict Quebecers’ freedom of religion. This proposed Charter of Quebec Values is against Canadian values, norms, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

At the federal level, the Senate scandal raised serious questions about accountability and ethics.

Furthermore, these are just some examples of scandals and abuse of power in 2013. Others include mayoral resignations in Quebec due to corruption and sexual misconduct, and an alleged defamation campaign carried out by an MLA against a journalist in Alberta.

The above examples not only have negative short-term impacts, but they also have broader implications. The youth and leaders of tomorrow need political role models who respect the duties of public office, engage in professional conduct, and do not try to encroach on constitutional freedoms.

As individuals in positions of power, political leaders not only chart the course of Canadian policies and legislation, they also have the greater role of being role models and ambassadors of a fair and dignified Canadian political system.

For 2014, many of us have made resolutions. I also urge all Canadian political leaders, at all levels of government, to make a resolution to promote and engage in politics that is positive and respects the great responsibility of being in political office and serving the public.

The examples mentioned above tarnish the reputation of Canadian politics, both at home and abroad, and also decrease the confidence of young Canadians in the political system. A clean system of politics will ensure that youth can feel confident knowing that politics can be used for bringing positive change in society.

I also urge the public to make a resolution to hold their politicians accountable for their actions. As taxpayers, we contribute thousands of dollars for the proper functioning of government. We must ensure that our political leaders are in fact using our funds appropriately and truly acting for the wellbeing of all Canadians.

We must shed the mentality that politics is only surrounded by negativity. Instead, we must raise the bar of what we expect from our politicians. By raising our expectations and constantly holding those in power accountable, we can help shape a political future where we do not have to deal with cases in which politicians abuse their powers.

Thousands of individuals from around the world migrate to Canada to escape the divisive politics and corruption that plagues their own countries. We must strive to ensure that Canadian politics remains free of such problems and our political leaders must refrain from setting inappropriate political precedents.

Japreet Lehal is a student at Simon Fraser University Surrey. He writes regularly for The Leader.


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