Ordinary people have a voice

GD#6, who will be going into Grade 2 this year, loves school, but oddly enough she isn’t overly excited yet about going back next week. It seems she’s still waiting for summer.

GD#6, who will be going into Grade 2 this year, loves school, but oddly enough she isn’t overly excited yet about going back next week. It seems she’s still waiting for summer.

***

Last week was no ordinary week.

First there was the death of federal Opposition leader Jack Layton. Politicians don’t often die in office, and Mr. Layton’s passing was particularly poignant because he hadn’t had time to savour the triumph of leading his party to Official Opposition status.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper graciously honoured him with a state funeral, another first, and the emotional response to Mr. Layton’s death from thousands of Canadians from all over the country certainly was unprecedented.

The second unusual event, also political, was British Columbian’s rejection of the Harmonized Sales Tax. We like to think that in a democracy, ordinary people (OP) have power.

In reality, the power is limited to choosing a government every few years. Once elected, our prime ministers, premiers, and sometimes mayors, can pretty much do as they please. To make matters worse, many politicians aren’t honest with voters. They say one thing before they are elected, and do something entirely different after.

Former premier Gordon Campbell said he wouldn’t sell BC Rail, then sold it.

He said no HST, then brought it in after he was safely elected.

Well, not so safely, as it turned out. Former premier Bill Vander Zalm threw a monkey wrench into the process by forcing a referendum on the matter.  The provincial government and pro- HST forces spent millions of dollars promoting their cause.

The anti-HST bunch “won” with very little money. What they had was a small army of volunteers and, obviously, many still-angry voters.

In the future, politicians who contemplate sneaking something past the voters might want to reconsider.

OPs are rebelling all over the world. It seems to be the sign of the times.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

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