Why? This is the one-word question I ask myself often during our provincial election campaign. I am alarmed at the attacks political parties direct at their opponents’ candidates by digging up things that have been said or done 10, 20 or even 30 years ago.
Haven’t all of us wished we had never said or done things decades past? What about forgiveness and fair judgement? Doesn’t everyone who is trying to rectify actions or statements for which they are ashamed or have long changed, want to be known for their current behaviour and more enlightened understanding of social, personal and even political declarations and actions?
We speak of reclamation of peoples’ lives who have committed terrible crimes. In fact, our laws and judgements by the courts who pronounce punishments on them for their misdeeds have in mind this very principle. We no longer practice capital punishment for even the most heinous acts. Then, why are we so unmerciful towards those who, in our opinion, have spoken or believed something in an earlier time that they no longer hold to?
Do we want to destroy a candidate who is capable, prepared, committed, service oriented and loyal to our democratic principles by prospecting in old files to find even some little word or action that we feel disqualifies him or her forever from serving in public office?
We seek to expunge the records of those who in their youth or adult years, consumed illegal substances such as pot. Why not do the same for those who aspire to serve our country politically? Are we hypocritical in demanding the expulsion of some from qualifying for public office, but hope that no one digs into our past and finds poor choices or expressions of thought that would also disqualify us from public office?
Are we not all guilty of committing some insensitive act or making some uniformed statement? Don’t we all want to be treated with mercy and given a second chance? Of course we do – even in politics!