Integrity will always be more what you do and less what you say. However, politics tends to be much more saying the right thing while doing something… well different. In kindergarten we are taught that’s lying. In the political world its called spinning. Political spin is the art of turning one perception into another by a string of words that drag the pointed finger in a 180 degree turn. If you’ve been around long enough you’ve witnessed some whopper spins.
Usually “spins” are not glaringly obvious. They are subtly designed as pieces of a puzzle or picture intended to present issues in a specific light (or omit critical information) contrary to the whole facts.
In my municipality we have a counselor (Alvin Derksen) that has been a little difficult to listen to lately. In the last few weeks/months he has released several articles or discourses leveled against the Reeve and deputy Reeve as well as members of our community*. These accusations are first of all, words designed to paint a picture of negligence and/or implications of corruption. However, the facts very much paint a different picture.
Both the Reeve and Deputy Reeve have been locally known as one of the most fiscally conservative members serving our municipality. I’ll provide two small examples. Instead of purchasing a brand new grader they successfully pushed to purchase a used grader (the deputy Reeve runs a large 3rd generation farm and is fully knowledgeable about all things machinery/equipment). The value of the purchase saved $200,000 from the budget while keeping or even exceeding productivity. Secondly, during a very wet year, the Reeve decided to not overhaul a road that was in need of repair. The wet season so saturated the ground that the cost of repair would greatly exceed budget. They postponed the major repair to the next year. This restraint in face of pressure to proceed “no matter what the cost” saved the budget another bucket of cash. These are just two of many examples of actions that reflect prudent financial management practices. Having government officials show fiscal restraint in the management of their responsibilities colors the best picture a tax paying citizen could ever wish for.
One of the articles complained about speeding on a freshly paved road (apparently just in front of the counselors house). The words droned on and on about speed so fast you couldn’t tell the paint color of the car. However, the critical information in this article was the fact that his street was freshly repaved. Once researched the facts found that it was his push to repave the road in front of HIS house (an act of luxury considering the many many other higher priority projects). In other words he used his elected position to further his personal gain in property value. It’s not exactly an action that reflects confidence and trust.
Soon after he pushed to be sent to Halifax for a conference… on the municipalities dime… with his wife.
Integrity in politics is not based on carefully constructed words but on what they end up DOING. Don’t listen to what politicians say, look at what politicians DO. If you’ve never seen them do anything, be wary. Look at their friends and associates, what type of characters are they? Do they operate as a team to scratch each others back? Do they consider “backscratching” normal political behavior? Or does their behavior inspire trust and integrity? During our election cycle let’s choose our candidates based on their character, not their charisma, words, perks or bribes… vote for policy (beliefs/values) not mere words.
One of the counselor’s written swipe accused the deputy Reeve of not attending enough meetings (ignoring the deputy Reeve’s high volume seasonal farm obligations). Quoting attendance numbers and whining about procedure, he droned on with many colorful words that reminded me of a child in the cereal isle holding his breath for a box of cocoa puffs. The deputy Reeve has a full time job besides his obligation as deputy Reeve… the only “work” Alvin Derksen can find is this part time political position… which gives him plenty of time to write disruptive articles.
In the real world of action and consequences we know it will always be better to have 50% of a wise man than 100% a fool.
*For viewing Counselor Alvin Derksen’s Articles: www.steinbachonline.com “Councilor Distressed at Excessive Speeding on La Broquiere Roadway Aug 30, 2019”, “LaBroquiere’s Deputy Reeve Missing Many Meetings Aug 28, 2019”, “Fresh Blacktop for St. Joseph June13, 2019”, “La Broquerie Reve Fence: Mar 29, Apr 25, Jun 13 2019”.