A widespread sense of entitlement and an atmosphere of fear are two of the major issues blocking government reform at the federal level, according to Chatham-Kent-Leamington Liberal candidate Katie Omstead.
“When someone steps over the line, the first reaction is denial and then suppression,” she said.
“A true leader would want the matter handled quickly and publicly.”
She said she’s hearing constituents’ say they are aware that government MPs are largely muzzled and can’t stand up for what they believe in.
“It’s called the Harper government for a reason,” she said. “This is not a Conservative government, it’s a one man operation. The consolidation of power in the prime minister’s office is unprecedented.”
She said a Liberal government would allow more free votes and reduce the omnibus bills (where different topics of legislation are lumped together in one document.)
A decade after Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to power promising to end government corruption, Canada is in worse shape than ever, said Chatham-Kent-Leamington NDP candidate Tony Walsh.
“Stephen Harper was going to reform the Senate, restore government transparency and accountability,” he said. “What we have is the politics of corruption, fear and division. That’s not the kind of government we’re used to.”
Walsh said greed is the motivating cause behind much of what happens in the government.
“We have a government which places the needs of corporations above those of people. Corporations exist to make money and left totally to their own devices, they can influence government policy to aid them instead of acting in the needs of Canadians.” he said.
“We need to remember that government should take care of people first and create the kind of society where the needs of the many aren’t outweighed by the wants of a few.”
Dave Van Kesteren
The worst thing about the various scandals which plague senior governments is that it overshadows the hard work and honesty of the vast majority of government officials, says Chatham-Kent-Leamington MP Dave Van Kesteren.
“If someone makes a mistake or goes over the line, they need to be held accountable,” he said. “I have a problem, though, when other parties use it for their own political purposes. (Ontario Premier) Kathleen Wynn has practically declared war on us and she has enough issues of her own to deal with.”
Van Kesteren said, “when I look across the floor of the House I see trustworthy, hard working people there. I may not agree with their political views on things but I don’t think they’re crooks.”
The MP said one of the first things he was told by the Prime Minister after being elected in 2006 was “don’t do anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the Globe and Mail. I think we all try to live up to the standard of having a public trust.”
Restoring faith in government will take a two-prong approach, according to Chatham-Kent-Leamington Green candidate Mark Vercouteren.
“We have institutional problems in that we need to fix our first past the post system and implement proportional representation so voters know that their vote counts even if their first choice doesn’t get elected,” he said.
“Once that’s done we need greater transparency for individuals and more importantly parties,” he said. “If the federal government can implement a Transparency Act for First Nations, why doesn’t it put the same thing in place for parties?
We all have a past, I must say but people will understand mistakes. They won’t forgive cover-ups. Even the prime minister admits he’s not perfect.”