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Small Expectations

A recent informal poll of readers indicated that a majority of respondents thought that North Bay council did not do enough to reduce taxes during the budget process.
A recent informal poll of readers indicated that a majority of respondents thought that North Bay council did not do enough to reduce taxes during the budget process. It would be interesting to know if these same people followed the pre-election campaigns of the current council because I do not recall any of them saying they would cut taxes. They all claimed they would look closely at any increase, which I believe they did.

What were the expectations of the voters as they voted heavily in favour of our mayor and the top five councilors? After the first 100 days, this council has demonstrated that elected officials sometimes do keep their promises. In fact, I think they have exceeded the expectations of many.

We have become somewhat jaded in our expectations of politicians. Many citizens do not vote because they no longer believe in the political process, claiming that promises made during the election are never kept. They don’t even follow ‘politics’ anymore. Personally, I would just as soon these people did not vote – it makes my vote all the more powerful!

Certainly the Dalton Gang in Queen’s Park is having credibility problems. But then, my expectations of them were very small as anyone who did the math had to know that they couldn’t keep their promises.

At the Federal level, scandal after scandal seems to be the norm. From the Human Resources to the Gun Registry to the latest at DND and HP, our civil servants and politicians muddle along, wasting our money, just as we expect them to. The fact that most days our government services roll smoothly along gets lost in the media hype of wrong-doing.

Despite what many consider the abysmal performance by our former Prime Minister, there is every indication that we will vote the Liberals back into power in the next election. Is it because we have small expectations of our politicians?

When a new fresh face like Belinda Stronach appears there is a brief flame of hope, but this is soon extinguished as the naysayers claim she will be the same as all the others if she is elected. After all, she is from the business sector and we all know how big corporations act for the public good. Large corporations such as Enron, Worldcom and now Hollinger make the headlines as their financial machinations come to light and we are not overly surprised.

Did we expect anything more from Lord Black? Did we think that he was earning all those Director fees? Did we think that the non-compete deals were in the best interest of the small investor who bought Hollinger stocks as part of their RRSP portfolio? No, our expectations for him were as small as we have for our politicians.

Now we are examining our hockey heroes in light of the latest on-ice violence. Why do we have higher expectations of them than we do of any other entertainers? Hollywood idols, TV personalities and musicians stumble off their pedestals quite regularly and only meet our small expectations of them. Why should we expect more of our politicians?

What are your expectations when you go shopping? Are you one of those people who opens the egg carton to see if all the eggs are whole? Do you check the seams on the garments you are about to buy? Are you upset when the car you bought needs some adjustment? What are your expectations that you will be cured of your ills after one visit to your health care provider? And yet we have higher expectations for our politicians.

As we begin the run up to the Federal election, we are going to build our expectations of the candidates. The candidates will be forced to out-promise their opposition in an effort to lure votes, but do we really expect them to keep their promises? If the candidate has charisma, flashy ads and runs a great campaign, our expectations may move from the small to the great category.

But we will find, like Pip, that reality puts a damper on great expectations. Perhaps it is better to have small expectations and be pleasantly surprised once in a while.

Bill Walton

About the Author: Bill Walton

Retired from City of North Bay in 2000. Writer, poet, columnist
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