Northumberland politicians can let Americans keep dogma-driven politics

Forbes predicts the decline of American economic superiority within a generation, only to be followed by the rise of China and India as global superpowers. The world has undergone a seismic change that reach right into Northumberland County.

The loss of the coveted AAA credit rating by the agency Standard & Poor’s, there cannot be any doubt the political paralysis in Washington is to blame. The debate over the raising of the debt ceiling between Democrats, the White House, Republicans and Tea Party members demonstrates without question how the ideologically driven politics of our day is an abysmal failure. It is this style of politics that appears to be gaining popularity within Canada.

Sadly, the fallout does not punish the perpetrators. Instead the global economy is sent into a tailspin inside the winds of uncertainty. Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty insists Canada is in good shape to stave off the turbulence created by the American crisis. Still, as he also points out, Canada is not an island and could be negatively affected.

But, there is also a political lesson inside this mess. The dangers of the current political environment cannot be overestimated. Certainly, local politics is nowhere near the paralysis of the Americans. Yet, there are signs of this type of intransigent bull-headedness.

One only needs to look in Hamilton Township to see the acts of mismanagement and stubbornness have hurt the reputation of the entire municipality, but will also cost taxpayers dearly for decades when it comes to the payout and settlements over the dismissal of the chief operating officer as it works its way through the court.

But, there are other examples. There is the arrogance of councils when politicians fail to heed public outcry. The recent debate over policing in Port Hope shows how decades of hardheaded politics have robbed the town and Cobourg from dramatic savings while town council goes shopping with the OPP.

It will also be important to watch as Cobourg council begins its budget process in the coming weeks. Deputy Mayor Stan Frost has promised for months to take a hard look a spending this time round. And, with an early start, he may be able to slide cuts through when most people are not paying attention due to summer plants, back to school and a fall provincial election to distract everyone.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his populist politics of slashing government spending, which swept him to office nearly a year ago, are proving to be a house of cards. His message resonated with many disenfranchised people looking to lash out at politicians and bureaucracies for what appeared to be gross inequities. However, it now appears the emperor has no clothes.

It is this kind of dogma that wins the praise of neo-conservatives. Just look at how Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave Ford a huge endorsement at a recent barbeque to see how this agenda is working at all levels of government. Voters should be taken the same care when making decisions come the provincial election currently being fought across Ontario.

Let’s hope taxpayers can squash any further examples of obstinacy before this trend finds its way further into Canadian politics. Let the Americans keep their broken system to themselves.