One of my favourite things about municipal politics in Alberta is the lack of partisanship. Of course that doesn’t mean some local elected representatives don’t get involved provincially or federally but no one runs under a party banner when running for City Council. As the provincial election will be called soon, I wanted to share some thoughts on ethics and integrity.
“The most important thing is making sure we defeat (insert party name here).”
While I’ve heard/seen people make that statement occasionally in the past, it’s been a common comment over the last few years and in particular the last couple of days. I know people are very passionate about party politics but I want to encourage anyone who has ever said or written that statement above to take some time to reflect on what that really means.
In life, there are many areas that we want to prioritize because they are important. Family, friends, work, politics, etc. There are a variety of things that are important to us but since there’s only so much time in the day, we have to prioritize what will receive our focus. No matter how hard we may try, there can only be one top priority. And once you’ve decided which part of your life is going to be your top priority, you then have to prioritize various aspects of that priority area. That includes politics.
Wherever politics falls in your life priorities I’m asking each person to really reflect on what should be prioritized when it comes to your involvement and who you will be voting for. If you believe that beating the other party is the most important aspect of politics, that means that having leaders that are ethical, serve with integrity, make evidence based decisions, and treat everyone with respect are not the most important factors. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t important to you but if you truly believe that beating the other party is the ‘most important thing’ then by extension, those other factors listed above are less important.
The fact that people are seemingly making that statement more often greatly concerns me. When we start to support elected representatives that are willing to sacrifice their values and morals in order to gain power, we head down a dangerous path. I’ve seen people justify a politician’s behaviour they would never accept from their family or friends simply because that person has ‘the best chance’ to beat a party that they disagree with.
I’m obviously biased but my experience has been that the vast majority of people who choose to put their name forward to serve others are doing so because they want to make a positive difference for their city, province, and country. Therefore I do not believe the suggestion that ‘everyone does it’ or ‘that’s just politics’ because what I’ve personally experienced is a majority of people who act ethically and are passionate about improving people’s lives. That doesn’t mean those good people are perfect but if they do make a mistake, they acknowledge and learn from that experience.
As you prepare to get involved and vote in the upcoming election, set aside time to reflect on what is most important to you and then hold everyone – including your own party – to that high standard. If you don’t speak up when you see actions that don’t meet that high standard or when you choose to ignore it by still voting for that person, you risk normalizing behaviour that we should never allow to become normal. There are too many good people who have high ethical and moral standards for us to accept anything less than that.