“The good thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.” ~ Andrew Tanenbaum

In going through my emails this evening – a never-ending job these days it seems – I came across one from a reader commenting on the Twitter exchange between Rich Coleman and myself on March 20th of this year. https://twitter.com/colemancountry

Scrolling back to that morning, Coleman had nattered about John Hogan’s comment on NW: “There is a sucker born every minute.”

I called him out and commented that he was hypocritical for taking after Horgan, when he refused to apply the same standard to Bill Bennett’s now infamous  “NDP Turds” comment.

Later on that day, Coleman was still nattering about it and out of the blue tweeted a  YouTube video of himself talking about David Black’s refinery as compared to the NDP response to myself and another follower. When I asked why he was sending me his YouTube video, what followed was a snarky response to me that he thought I deserved some ‘face time’ and that my call out behind my feed wasn’t constructive.

Clearly, either I had hit a nerve or Ritchie was having a bad day. Either way, the exchange did not go unregarded by many.

Fast forward a couple of weeks to this new video of Rich Coleman, titled: Q: How do you feel about direct criticism from the press/media?  

Please take 2 minutes to watch this.

Ah yes… there we go, those horrible blogs that write things that are not factual, just make things up and have no standards or accountability. Those blogs can just say anything and isn’t that a shame? No one to hold them to account. Sounds like a bunch of politicians!

First, I will be the first one to agree that there are some really terrible blogs out there that will write anything, say anything and to hell with what anyone thinks. That is the nature of the internet and it doesn’t just apply to blogs. Reader/buyer beware.

However, there are also many excellent blogs out there that offer a different type of public service and alternative news source, some of which are on my blog roll to the side. I write both opinion pieces and editorials, but have also broken some very compelling news stories. The Sea to Sky Shadow Toll series, the precedent setting Tercon vs Ministry of Transportation decade long litigation and SCOC ruling and many others. Some have been covered nationally, some completely ignored, but the stories are here nonetheless, with proof, documents etc. The same goes for many other top BC bloggers.

I absolutely trust that all of our collective readers can tell the difference between what is good, accurate and verified… and what is not … and in that respect the blogosphere is no different from my more mainstream colleagues.

There are very good journalist’s, reporters and columnists… and at the opposite end there have been unsettling cases of reporters or columnists who have plagiarized work or even simply made things up. I won’t even get into the other issues plaguing reporting and conflicts of interest.

That is human nature, and as the quote above states, there are so many standards to choose from even where there is a set of professional expectations written to adhere to. It is glaringly obvious that in the video above, Rich Coleman fails to see the irony of his lament over bloggers who make false statements and or those who criticize him.

For in fact, if I were to have the inclination to make such absurd videos, I would say how difficult it is to be a journalist, or a blogger, when politicians say things that aren’t factual, or distort facts.

Or when they deflect a question because they don’t feel like answering when the truth isn’t working for them.

Or when we have to file Freedom of Information requests for basic information from a government that claims it is  the most open and transparent government BC has ever had.

Or when they deliberately withhold and politically interfere with legislative process and or reports because the truth is going to show they once again, deceived the public who voted them in.

I’m all about accountability. I can’t speak for anyone else, but if my name is on it, and I wrote it, I have to answer for it.  I verify sources, have hard copy backup, documents, whatever I need to write my stories.  It’s my name, my reputation and I’ll answer to what I have written or risk the consequence.

From what I have seen over the last  two years in particular, that is a higher standard than either Coleman, or most of his Liberal caucus colleagues can say about their own behavior. Hence the quote in the headline: “The good thing about standards is that there are so many of them.” Coleman seems to like to pick which standards apply to others…but not apply them to his own party.

This brings me to an excerpt from an older post that I will leave you with today, since we are talking about standards and accountability. I think it is quiet relevant again, since we are mere weeks from an election and new government. Something to think about.

Why are our politicians and public officials not held to a higher, and stronger level of accountability?  Where does it all start and how do we fix it?

I noticed an oath of the wall of the legislature when I visited Victoria last month, the Oath for Public Service Employees.

As a member of the British Columbia Public Service, I, ………………………………… , [employee name] do solemnly swear/affirm [circle one] that I will

1 loyally serve the people of British Columbia through their democratically elected government,

2 honour and faithfully abide by the Standards of Conduct for Public Service Employees, and

3 to the best of my ability,

(a) act with integrity, putting the interests of the public and the public service above my own personal interest and avoiding all conflicts of interest, whether real or perceived,

(b) safeguard confidential information, not divulging it unless I am either authorized to do so or required to do so by law,

(c) base my advice, recommendations and decisions on the objective evidence that is available to me,

(d) serve the government impartially, and

(e) conduct myself honestly and ethically, in a manner that maintains and enhances the public’s trust and confidence in the public service and does not bring it into disrepute.

Interestingly enough – and I would love it if someone could help me out here – I could not find anything more than the following for the oath an MLA must swear before the Lieutenant Governor before becoming a member of the Legislative Assembly:

I, ………………, swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II [or her successor], her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.

( It is interesting to note that it does not state ” I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the people of BC…” but rather, they still bear faith to the queen of  a country that bears no real status in our governance in modern times.  To me, changing this would be a start. )

I,______________________, affirm that I will serve Her Majesty duly and faithfully, and to the best of my ability fulfil the responsibilities and trust granted to me as a Member of the Executive Council of British Columbia.

I,______________________, affirm that I will keep confidential all matters dealt with in the Executive Council, and I will not disclose any of the same to any person other than a Member of the Executive Council except as authorized by it or as required in the lawful discharge of my duties as a Member of the Executive Council.

Affirmed before me at Victoria, British Columbia

this___ day of________, AD 20____

 

Wow.  Apparently, our government expects and  holds public service employees to a higher standard of professionalism and dedication than they do themselves… Really. Go back and read those oaths again, and then you tell me what’s wrong with this picture.

It surely won’t solve everything, and it certainly will not prevent an unethical and dishonest person from being elected into public office, but it would be a start.

 The time has come when the people of British Columbia will not be taken for granted any longer, because after all, it is was not the Liberals who made this province what it is, it was us, and it will always be us.

  Politicians of every party across this great province would do well to remember that, because  British Columbians are a powerful political force in their own right.

21 thoughts on ““The good thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.” ~ Andrew Tanenbaum

    1. Laila

      Its really rather stark isn’t it? Yes there are rules about conflict of interest etc.. but really, when a politician swears an oath, it should be more than just ceremony and protection of caucus matters, it should reflect the inherent responsibilities and duties to the voters who put them there, and to the province as a whole.

      Within that link to my original 2010 post, there is another link to a great column that was authored in 2002 : http://www.centreforpublicaccountability.org/2002/02/oaths/ It covers oaths by many offices, including judges, here are some excerpts, but it is a must read:

      Canadians probably think the oaths of office taken by their MPs, ministers of the Crown, and public servants contain explicit commitments that the MPs, ministers, and public servants uphold the Constitution and comply with the law. They don’t. They should. And it’s time they did. Compliance with the spirit and letter of the law is the first safeguard against public officers misusing their powers.

      Twenty years have passed by since we “patriated” the Constitution Acts 1867 to 1982 including the Charter, which makes the Constitution of Canada the supreme law of Canada. So far as I am aware, however, no jurisdiction in Canada has, in those intervening twenty years, updated the oaths of office to reflect the reality of these new constitutional provisions. It is time that the Federal and provincial legislatures strengthened these oaths. Stronger oaths would tell the public officers making them what we expect from them. Producing common oaths in each jurisdiction would further strengthen them. Without the element of compliance with the law formally placed in the oaths, and without officials’ reporting of their compliance, we cannot tell how seriously they regard that compliance. The response, “Well, all that is surely implied in the oaths” won’t do.

      At the outset of a person’s assumption of public office, his or her oath serves at least as a useful personal mission statement. The oath of office ceremony makes officials’ acceptance of their obligations all the more visible to the public. But regardless whether legislators strengthen the oath wordings, in my opinion officials have a natural duty to comply with the Constitution and laws of Canada, and are bound to act in accordance with the Constitution and the laws of Canada and its provinces, as if they had taken the oaths proposed here. They can reasonably be asked to report publicly and regularly whether they have so acted.

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  1. RJ Forster

    Part of the problem here is the majesty reference like come on they ain’t no hofenstafens and besides if the mud won’t stick make something up they do. There were people who called these crooks out from the beginning and finally most agree.

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  2. workforfun

    Rich Colemans comments are pure unadulterated “Rectum Rhetoric” – as is most that comes out of the mouths of the BC Lieberal party MLA’s.

    You are spot on Laila, with your comments and the BC Lieberals just cannot take the flack when comments are made that they do not like. Instead, the start out on a negative (often extremely personal) character assassination on anyone outside of the party.

    It is a shame that they also forget the 36 page election manifesto from 2001 – where they promised changes but only gave the people of BC the middle finger !!!

    I just cannot wait for the lections in May – it will make my day to see this bunch on crooked incompetent idiots that call themselves government, get soundly thrashed.

    I had better quit before I get too worked up.

    Thx

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    1. Laila

      Don’t get too excited Workforfun!

      I don’t think I was out of line in calling him on his hypocrisy – some of his fellow MLA’s have just behaved atrociously in the last year in particular. Between Bill Bennett’s mouth and Harry Bloy rants or Kevin Kruegars for that matter, it’s just unacceptable – for any politician actually. Straight honest talk, yes. Turds, no.

      Like

    1. Laila

      I have actually been expanding and updating an entirely new list to reflect the time period since Campbell left and Clark took over. It is taking a bit longer than anticipated because there is just one of me, and sooooooo many reasons the Liberals should go!!

      But you can look forward to it by the time the writ is dropped !!! I am working on doing it in a PDF format for easy download and printing.

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  3. luigi

    I absolutely agree that the oaths of office for federal, provincial and municipal politicians need to be completely overhauled and given some teeth so that the of this country have the assurance that any dereliction of duty on the part of the elected can be acted upon. We have the writers of legislation, therefore we have the people who can draw up these new oaths once directed by the councils/legislatures/parliament.
    However, first there must be an appetite to provide that “direction”. And that’s where the “people” come in. We have to give voice to the desire for those changes and then drive the point home to the politicians. That means making noise, and not relenting. Now, the majority of people wil say “Oh, great idea.” Some will write MPs, MLAs and so on, while others will write comments on blogs or letters to the editor. But they need a leader to crystalize the issue and keep it in the forefront, as did Vander Zalm with the HST. He became the spokesman. It’s also happening as we head toward the election, with a groundswell of support for credible bloggers who are telling the thruth about this government.
    We’ll need the same thing, a spokesperson at the head of the wedge of public demand for change, if we are to have legislative changes to very important matters such as the oath of office of an elected politician.
    But the firtst thing that has to happen is people must demand it.
    Hope you don’t disapprove of the length of this comment, Laila.

    As for Coleman, hot air, he’s old news.

    Like

    1. Laila

      I might joke about the length of a comment, but have never disapproved one because of it.

      Very good points – there does need to be a cohesive effort to make these changes. One person alone can’t make it happens.

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  4. erik

    A quote from Hansard in Ottawa springs to mind after reading your marvelously restrained reply to “Falstaff Coleman”.

    From a frustrated MP trying to seek answers from a stuborn Minister.
    “I can give you all the facts, I can do all the reasoning for you, the one thing I cannot do is give you the ability to comprehend.”

    Cheers

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  5. Mosko

    Unfortunately, the current crop of “Liberals” in BC harbour the worst qualities of what we would want in politicians. We have a current, unelected premier who is driven by blind ambition and no ethics who has surrounded herself with like-minded people.

    We have a crop of resident MLA’s who desire power and prestige and money and will do anything to hold onto it. The motivations of these people are not with serving the people, or trying to better the province and the lives of the people, and everything to do with profiteering from the position.

    Like

  6. e.a.f.

    Poor old Rich. All those awful bloggers saying such untrue things about the lieberals. No mention of all the untrue things said by the lieberals themselves or any number of msm.

    Poor old Rich must think we are all stupid or delisional. Having watched, listened to, read, news from the msm it is clear many can not get their fact straight or slant the news. The same can be said about bloggers. The same can be said about nw commentators.

    What poor old Rich is really upset about is there is now another news source, bloggers. Some of whom are writing great news, which is of interest to many people. It allows voters to get another view of things.

    Poor old Rich, “the truth will set you free”.

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  7. nonconfidencevote

    Laila,
    Rich Colemans’ complaints about “criticisms in the media” starts off as a” I can sympathize how hard of a job it is” ego stoke for the compliant MSM ……My heart bleeds for the likes of ‘poor” Bill Good, and all the other media lapdogs that, in Mr Colemans words, ” have it so hard these days”.
    He then continues on by denigrating “bloggers” that “dont get their facts straight”, etc.
    Mr. Colemans comments would be laughable if they werent so pathetic.
    The ONLY unbiased news the voters of BC have recieved over the past few years has been, almost without exception, from blogs. NOT the MSM!

    As for the “oath of office” that MLA’s “must” swear upon entering their jobs.
    While I agree that removing the “oath of allegiance” to the Queen is far overdue.
    What is the point of making these venal swine pledge an oath if there are no legal repercussions to them breaking that oath?
    If a US style justice system can toss a Governor in jail for 10 years for trying to “sell” Barack Obama’s senate seat in Michigan….. I can only imagine how many Canadian politicians would smarten up if a few of their colleagues recieved the same fate…..

    Like

    1. Laila

      I agree that oaths might not do it all, but you have to start somewhere, and why not with the swearing in? Follow that up with tougher anti-corruption laws which we are totally lacking in…. and you hae a good start.

      Perhaps if more politicians knew that there would be a consequence further to being embaressed by a scandal they can deny in the papers, they might alter their behavior. And that goes to public servants as well.

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  8. judi sommer

    Laila!
    I almost spilled a lovely glass of vintage ( ok, not aged in a taxi) wine on my mother board when I heard Keith Baldrey’s comments on the Global 6pm evening news. It looks as if there is a chasm developing in the Liberal camp as they look into the post election chasm. It appears that the CC and Coleman camp are toast.So much for Coleman’s dreams of picking up the tattered remains of th party to save them from the “socialist hordes”Where will Rich land? I love to see the consequences of hubris! Now the next challege will be to see who emerges from the toxic sludge!

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    1. Laila

      Phew,no wasting wine on this account!

      Coleman has a Re-Elect Coleman photo on his twitter feed so as far as he is concerned it seems to be a go… unless he doesn’t have enough signatures or has alternate plans he is keeping to himself.

      Like

  9. judi sommer

    Hi Laila,
    On a tangential (sp?) note, I was heartened to hear on a recent Global report from Keith Baldrey that there is a chasm in the Liberal Party-CC and Coleman vs the “others who would cobble together its tattered remains”. It looks as if he he has burned his bridges -finally.With everything he has done to bully and intimidate, not only outside and within the party, his being denied the interim party leader status after the next election would be satisfying, even if he were to win his seat.However, I doubt he understands the concept of hubris.He is too self-serving for that.So much for his desire to keep the Gates of Victoria Safe from the Socialist Hordes!

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  10. macadavy

    Sorry to nitpick, but the reference to the ‘Executive Council’ in the oath you quote means it is the oath sworn by cabinet ministers when they are appointed to cabinet, not the oath for ordinary MLAs, In other words, this is the oath sworn by Rich Coleman and his ilk when appointed to cabinet! Makes it all the more poignant, don’t you think?

    Like

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