It’s always a surprise when a politician publicly admits the cold, hard truth about his own party.
It doesn’t happen often, but it did occur recently in Ontario.
In case you missed it, veteran Markham city Councillor Gordon Landon told Citytv that federal money for a medical devices centre in Markham did not come through because the riding is not held by a Conservative (it’s held by a Liberal).
It was an astonishing admission given that, at the time, Landon was a candidate for the federal Conservative Party in Markham-Unionville.
Not surprisingly, Landon has since withdrawn as the Tory candidate in the riding and now claims that his comments were misinterpreted.
According to the Canadian Press, Landon says he complied with a request from the Tories to step aside after his remarks were made public.
It’s a shame that the city councillor of 26 years has changed his story.
Up until he started blaming the media for twisting his words, he appeared to be exactly what we need in Ottawa: an honest person.
Now he’s no better than any other politician playing partisan games.
Of course, many politicians are honest and eager to serve the public, but many others are in the game for all the wrong reasons.
Politicians may admit the truth to their friends in private, but it seems that too few elected officials are willing to come clean in public.
Of course, the federal Conservatives are spending tax dollars in ways that will benefit them most at the polls. The Liberals did it before them, and whoever forms the next government will surely do it, too.
Landon knows that and so do most voters, but our adversarial political system makes it virtually impossible for politicians to tell the truth.
Remember when Kim Campbell, a former Canadian prime minister, quipped that an election was no time to discuss serious issues?
Well, she was right — in a way. Elections are generally all about appearance rather than substance, but political opponents would never allow a party leader to get away with saying so.
Interestingly, a new study by a fellow at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, suggests that politicians can’t help telling lies.
Glen Newey, author of the report, even goes so far as to say that one of the main reasons politicians tell lies is that the general population has become used to such lies and tolerates them, to a large degree.
So, in an age of spin doctors and public relations consultants, is it any wonder that the general public doesn’t trust politicians?
It’s a wonder that any of us still bother to vote.
Lee Giles is an Advocate editor.