Here's a way to clean up politics in 2013: Any time a politician feels the temptation to take a cheap shot at the opposing side, he or she must ask: what would you say if the party roles were reversed?
Too often, opposition politicians criticize, by rote, any move a government does, and the government
responds in kind.
To be fair, that's not always the case. In fact, the quality of political debate in Canada does seem to be
improving at times. Amid the usual shenanigans in Ottawa's question period, some good opposition questions netted honest, well-thought answers from the government this year. It's a pleasant surprise when it happens.
In the United States, however, the quality of political debate certainly has deteriorated. The American right wing's hatred for President Barack Obama is so intense and irrational, its politicians and pundits automatically disagree with everything he says - just because he said it.
TV satirist Jon Stewart is a master at pointing out the hypocrisy of such politics. He'll take a clip of a politician or Fox News pundit criticizing something Obama said or did, then find a clip from years ago when the same person praised his own side for doing the same thing.
It's that kind of gamesmanship that makes all politicians look bad.
We may soon get the chance to see if a local MLAs can avoid the opportunity to criticize the opposition for something he absolved his own party of.
In the early fall, MLA Norm Letnick wrote a letter, voicing disappointment in an editorial that criticized the province for a $1.1-billion natural gas revenue shortfall.
"It's unfair to suggest this is somehow anyone's fault," the MLA wrote.
Those words caused us to wonder if Letnick would be as forgiving of NDP budget mistakes.
If the party roles are reversed after May's election, his words require that he not be too critical of NDP financial estimates.
All we ask is politicos show consistency in their words and positions, think before they speak, and respect for their opponents. Oh, and stop
comparing opponents to Hitler, too.
If they do that, public esteem for them just might climb a small notch.
- City Editor Pat Bulmer