Guest Commentary

Hon. Doug Young

The Case For Term Limits

(Editor’s note: Doug Young is a former leader of the New Brunswick Liberal Party and two-term MP who served in the federal cabinet. In an October 14, 2011 interview with Blacklock’s publisher Holly Doan, Young stated the case for mandatory term limits on politicians. Following is a transcription of his remarks)

I believe in term limits. I never believed in politics that winning is everything. Doing the right thing is what it’s about, and paying the price. Term limits would eliminate a lot of crap. Today I don’t know if there is leadership that’s prepared to pay the political price and take the chance.

One of the most dangerous elements in democracy is the person who wants to get re-elected. Once they’re in office they will say or do anything to win re-election, as opposed to doing the right thing. That is a much bigger danger to democracy than low turnout by the electorate.

My kids used to tell me there was something seriously wrong, that here I was in politics, the most disliked profession in Canada, the least respected. Today I find now that even people who do vote are not happy about it. Politicians play to a particular group of people, but you have no common view. You say what they want to hear, as opposed to doing what you think is right.

Traditionally, Canadians had a feeling about people in high-profile leadership positions in their community, their province and their country. That no longer holds true. I think it’s up to people who aspire to leadership to perform in a way that gains the respect of the people. When they lose it, that’s not the people’s problem.

The responsibility for voter turnout lies with people who have what it takes to lead. That is the point with low voter turnout. If you can’t get people into the rink to watch your team, what do you do? Do you go around and say they’re not good people because they don’t come to see you play hockey? We’re in a democracy. People have a right to vote, or not to vote.

Politicians win because there is no opposition, or what opposition exists is so fractured it can’t mount any kind of reasonable campaign. That’s what Mr. Chretien was faced with. Ordinary Canadians are walking around saying, “These people can’t get it together internally in their own little organizations; how are they going to really take care of the problems we consider important?”

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