Earlier this week, Andrea Horwath announced that, upon her party’s victory in Ontario’s elections (don’t hold your breath), she will create a new government post with the title Minister of Accountability. As hard as it is to imagine the NDP deciding that there should be more members in a steadily growing cabinet, it is actually quite difficult to imagine a member of government spending their time holding peers to account.
In normal democratic practices, what a rational observer would call “independent” individuals hold the government to account. In Andrea Horwath’s ideal world, we should let the government do so for itself. Not to mention now another member of provincial parliament can collect an extra $38,000. This is, of course, an awful idea. The last time a government proposed that it could handle its own ethical affairs—oh wait governments propose this idea all the time. Luckily enough, in most countries, provinces, and cities, anyone with any political experience takes a few minutes out of their day to laugh at the notion of government responsibility when they hear the suggestion. What’s most surprising is the authenticity with which Ms. Horwath proposed this idea. She must genuinely believe one of two things:
- The best way to hold the government to account is to get the government to do it;
- The best way to convince voters that the government is being held to account is to give a member of government the title of Minister of Accountability.
If asked to bet which is the real reason, I would like to put my stakes on the former, only because I’d like to believe she is an innocent idealist. In reality, it’s the latter (big surprise). This shocking realization does say something about the NDP, namely that they believe that the average voter is stupid, not only on the provincial level, but on the federal level as well. The recent escapades of the national party whistle a similarly disappointing tone.
The real question is why does the NDP think so lowly of each Canadian citizen? They believe the average citizen thinks highly of them. Though this answer is a light-hearted piece of word play, it is also an interesting glance into the effect of the thoroughly unaccountable Harper government of Canadian politics.
After years of Conservative meddling with government accountability, dubious environmental policy, and downright untrustworthy ruling, the political parties are getting a little simple. The NDP, in this new simplistic view, is an innocent party of ideological purity whose angelic record leaves them beyond any reproach (other than their own). The Liberals, on the other hand, have decided that all they need is a good-looking political scion that can utter the word marijuana and have young voters drooling with drug-fuelled admiration. Unfortunately for them, this is not the case.
Canada is a country with one of the highest rates of post-secondary education in the world. Its citizens should not be treated as donut-eating simpletons (despite their international reputation) who pick their government based on a famous name and a pretty face, and especially not on a reputation of unquestionable morality. Thomas Mulcair has been called in front of a House Commission for his party’s unaccountable use of government spending. Perhaps he could have used Ms. Horwath’s idea and have been saved from embarrassment by his Minister for Accountability. I look forward to that minister’s expense scandal.