It seems that as soon as someone is elected to public office, a creeping paralysis – inspired by fear of alienating voters and political supporters – becomes all too apparent.
The numbness starts with the tongue and a sudden awareness of the need to hold it. There’s an overwhelming sensation that plain speaking must be suspended for the greater good; that political allegiances dictate statements cautious lest any rocking of boats submerge pet projects.
Once started, the condition descends to the shoulders, which become frozen in a dismissive shrug, a universal gesture signaling a politician’s inability to acknowledge personal responsibility for anything perceived as offensive.
From there, the paralysis attacks the brain, where the principal symptom is a tendency to espouse two conflicting notions at the same time, negating all forward motion entirely.
Thus the spectacle of Newton-North Delta MP Jinny Sims, absolving herself of responsibility for something, while at the same time arguing there is nothing to be absolved from.
The New Democrat claims she didn’t know that Maninder Gill was awaiting trial on weapons charges when she awarded him a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal last weekend.
Realizing the seriousness of the crimes of which Gill stands accused (relating to a 2010 dispute that left one man with a bullet wound), she apologizes if anyone was offended by his receiving a medal.
At the same time, as she rightly notes, “each accused person is considered to be innocent until they are found guilty in a court of law.”
So why, then, apologize?
Students of the paralysis of reason must be having a field day studying the actions – and inactions – of Energy Minister Rich Coleman.
His apparent desire to win brownie points with voters by claiming that no BC Hydro customer will be forced to accept a smart meter – while at the same time insisting that customers will be “re-educated” until they, ultimately, accept a smart meter – is a classic instance of double-talk that does no one any favours.
Both BC Hydro and customers resisting attempts to install the meters have been left in confusion, while the BC Liberal minister has steadfastly refused to acknowledge the policy of absolute compliance he has established means all will eventually be forced to comply.
Such paralysis, rooted in the politician’s desire to be all things to all people, is the natural enemy of clarity and, ultimately, leadership.