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My Thoughts: Create a system that takes politicians to task

By Rob MacLellan

TRURO, N.S. —

Most of us realize that when we go to work for an employer, that employer will hold us accountable for our actions and behaviours on the job. In many cases, as well, the employer will also hold us accountable for the things we do when we are not at work, when our online or real life behaviours might reflect negatively on the company. 
It makes sense if you think about it, as companies or employers invest huge amounts of time, effort and financial resources to establish their brand as ethical, sustainable, and perhaps even moral. The last thing they want is employees who are behaving in ways that do not reflect positive company values.
As an employee, you might chafe at company-imposed behavioural restrictions, and say to yourself, “They don’t own me!” You figure your time and your life is your own. Of course, you are welcome to re-embrace your life and time by leaving the company. Oh, but there are those pesky bills to pay, aren’t there?
Let’s take a moment to reflect on this. Do you realize that all of us are employers? We all have people who work for us, even though our employees are not always under our direct supervision. They labour day after day on our behalf, but we only get once chance every four years or so to sanction them on their performance, although along the way we do have opportunities to make comments to them about how well, or not well they are doing.  It is up to them to choose whether or not they will respond to our helpful comments or directions. Given that we are the employers, does that seem like a reasonable level of accountability to you?
We are Canada. As the second largest country in the world, Canada is nothing without the Canadian people. Our place in the world, how we are regarded by other nations, and how well we manage our place are essential elements in determining who we are. To assist us in navigating these challenges we employ politicians. We choose them, we pay them and they work for us. The problem lies in the fact that except for about once every four years, they infrequently acknowledge our preeminence.
The first challenge in choosing good employees is all about the process. Our current first-past-the-post electoral system lacks in fairness, yet those that have the power to make changes to this system, a sitting government, does not do so because the current system works for them. This is wrong.
Once these new employees have been recruited and put into their positions with their job descriptions in hand, they soon go off script. Imagine if you will that you are owner of a restaurant with about 15 employees. They get together in the back kitchen, choose their own leader, and then proceed to change the menu and to order in new furniture. They then tell you, the owner, that this is the way it is going to be, and they hand you the bill.
This is not unlike our political party system. We choose our politicians, but it is ultimately what the party decides that determines what gets done or not done. This is also wrong.
Democracy is good when those within it represent the will of the people. Our current system is broken, and we need to take steps to return accountability to our employees, since they rarely exercise it themselves.
A starting place in this new process might be to institute a Canadian version of mid-terms. While there is a cost to everything, we do have an electronic voting system in place now where voters can easily make choices online. With a pre-determined required level of voter satisfaction in place, what if every two years voters had the chance to vote online as to how well their MPs are working, and then unceremoniously give them the boot in subsequent by-elections if they do not meet voter approval.
I think it might work. Currently, when politicians get chosen by us, their jobs don’t come up for renewal for four long years, so they might not take their employers seriously.  They might work more closely to the script that we give them if they know they could be out on their ears in just two years.


Rob MacLellan is an advocate for education and non-profit organizations. He can be reached at 902-305-0311 or at rob@nsnonprofitconsulting.com.

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