Prentice steals Wildrose thunder
Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 06:00 am
Too many people (in this case, more than one is too many) get into public service for the wrong reasons. Power, prestige, notoriety and money too often play in some peoples’ decisions to run for office.
Jim Prentice is hoping to put an end to that. The frontrunner in the Tory leadership race dropped a populist bomb Thursday that must still be sending shockwaves through Danielle Smith’s Wildrose party. The bomb comes in the form of term limits for MLAs and the premier.
If Prentice becomes Alberta’s next premier, he vows he’ll introduce legislation that will limit the time an MLA can sit in office to three terms. And the premier can only hold the office for two terms. The legislation would be the first of its kind anywhere in Canada, and it’s representative of Prentice’s disdain for “career politicians.”
There’s a saying that if you stay in one place long enough, you become that place. We’ve witnessed that saying live out time and again in Canadian politics. Too often voters are disappointed with their elected representatives. The sense of entitlement, the abuse of power, the abuse of taxpayer dollars – the odds of them happening increase the longer a politician holds office.
It is human nature to become complacent over time. Complacency is the enemy of ingenuity, accountability and high ethical standards – traits we all want to see in our elected representatives. Term limits will reduce the temptations that are borne out of complacency.
There is a downside to Prentice’s plan. There are good, very good, politicians who really are in office to serve the public good. Term limits will ensure their removal, even though their constituents might want their continued representation. On the other hand, the continued infusion of fresh blood into the political system lends itself to innovative, forward thinking. There will be no more “old boys clubs” and political deadwood rotting away in Alberta's legislature.
Prentice's promise of term limits and his promises to enshrine private property rights and legislate accountability will appeal to the core of Wildrose support. In fact, they will appeal to voters across the political spectrum who agree that fresh blood and new ideas trump the inevitable stagnation that comes with 'professional' politicians.
According to data from Elections Canada, the incumbent is successfully re-elected about 80 per cent of the time. Does anyone really believe that incumbents are re-elected 80 per cent of the time because 80 per cent of the time they would make the best representative? Rather than elect our political representatives on name recognition, would it not make more sense to vote for their ideas?
We think so. If there was any doubt that Prentice wouldn't become Alberta's next premier, these three principles should put that to rest.