After 8 years of doing this commentary, I sometimes think that I have witnessed just about all there is in political life in Saskatchewan, Canada and around the world. My recent three weeks away tells me that you will never see everything in the realm of politics.
Three weeks in a Republican-dominated state like Arizona gets you full exposure to the Donald Trump phenomenon. There are rabid supporters and also the biggest detractors in that state. The Governor of Arizona is a right-wing Republican whose state is one of the ones that will lose the most if the NAFTA Agreement is torn up by President Trump.
The Governor hosted a reception for the Mexican Ambassador to the United States while I was there which was attended by most of the business and cultural elites of the Phoenix area. The Governor made it very clear that Mexico was Arizona's biggest trading partner and the relationship was a good one. This same Governor has made comments about how much he and his state appreciate the tens of millions of dollars which Canadian snowbirds bring to his state each and every year and yet, not one word in public disavowing Mr. Trump and all of the contradictions that go with this man.
Unfortunately, this is the state of politics in the United States of America where the divide between Republicans and Democrats, between the right and the left and the disappearance of commonsense leaves that country in a state of growing hatred among its citizens for each other. One of the great democracies in the world - the country on which so many have patterned themselves around the globe - is rapidly approaching being politically dysfunctional in my view.
The big debate as I was driving home this past week was whether the federal government would be able to pay its bills because the Members of Congress cannot agree on the most mundane of federal government functions. At the end of the day, they will probably add a trillion dollars - and that's trillion with a "t" - to the debt that the people of the United States will be responsible to pay for - for generations to come.
Enough about American politics but we know that what happens there whether it be the NAFTA Trade Agreement, contracts for airliners and new fighter jets or Canada's trading relationships with other nations around the world, we Canadians will be influenced about what happens south of the 49th. Our television sets are full of the ongoing scandals in the American entertainment business and the political world. Those things are also showing up in Canada.
I don't think our political system has sunk to the lows that we see across the 49th parallel but each and every day I see politicians and single-issue groups in our province and our country pushing the same agendas. I think it is really important that as we go through this major transitional period in Saskatchewan where everyone of our political parties is changing its leadership that we all - regardless of political affiliation - be mindful of what kind of leadership we want in the future.
The temptation by individual politicians to succumb to the styles we see exhibited south of the border and in other jurisdictions in Canada in order to achieve personal political power should put everyone on guard. Those that subscribe to the old adage "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing that matters" is what gets us into predicaments like the GTH land scandal. Unfortunately, money is at the root of many of the political ills in the United States, in my view, and if we allow it to, it will do the same to our political system here at home.
We must be open and transparent about the monies that enter our political system and who the benefactors are and I hope and pray that as our various political parties chose new leadership that all those with the privilege of voting take this into consideration when they cast their ballots for the next generation of political leadership in Saskatchewan. Future generations demand that we do so.
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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.