In this country we have three levels of government and the politicians that represent us in them. Although all three are somewhat different from each other the politicians are essentially the same in their goals and objectives and that is to get elected and stay elected. Not a bad gig with a pretty good pension provincially or federally. With that in mind let's look at the three levels.
For most people who are getting into politics their first step is usually municipal. Sitting as a councillor or mayor gives you an insight into what your community is all about and what the hot button issues are for your fellow ratepayers and also what you're getting yourself into. The issues can range from property tax rates to why did so and so get his street paved but I didn't. With municipal politics you tend to get an idea of what is right and what is wrong with the community. People will tend to tell you what your doing wrong rather than what your doing right and that is simply because human nature dictates things like that. If you want to be a municipal politician than you better have thick skin and be able to roll with the punches. If you're into it to make everybody happy then be ready for a reality check, especially if someone phones at 2 a.m. to complain that the snow plow hasn't gone down their street yet. If your into the job for the money then you have to realize that the pay for municipal politician isn't all that great except if you live in a major city and the reward seems to be the job itself.
There seems to be two benefits in running for provincial politics. The first is the money isn't bad and secondly you are usually in the legislature far from your constituents which makes it harder for them to berate you on what a lousy job your doing. Also you represent a political party and sometimes that party does something that your voters aren't too happy with. Who do you side with? I've asked that question a number of times through the years and believe it or not the majority of those running have said the party. There's something to think about come next election. There is a benefit to this type of logic though because someone else does the thinking for you and all you have to do is put your particular shine on it. One other benefit is that most politicians have aides who do the interception for them when a particular constituent wants to see you about something. They get the flack and get to diffuse the situation long before you get to talk to them. The amount of time you actually sit in the legislature is also a draw as they tend to spend less time than students get in school and we know how much tome that can be. Also I've seen the debates some politicians have had and it seems sometimes the students are better behaved. Perhaps they need a nap time but If I remember correctly some have had experience in that field. One of the main goals of any provincial politician, especially if your party is in power, is to get money off the federal government and usually they aren't too willing to part with it and that brings us to the third level of politics.
Usually by the time a politician makes it into federal politics they gave become seasoned at ducking questions and fluent in "politispeak," my word for saying a lot and meaning nothing. How many times have we seen a politician asked a simple question and 10 minutes later we still don't have an answer and they're still talking. There should be some kind of buzzer hooked up to a tester and after a certain amount of time you get to jolt them for an answer, You might not get the answer you want but you'd get a few laughs as a reward. When someone gets elected to sit in Parliament they are even further away from their constituents and unless it's an election year their appearance isn't guaranteed unless they are handing out federal dollars or they are being honoured for whatever reason. The pension for retiring as a federal politician is rewarding if you get elected a couple of times and a lot of them become consultants or lobbyists and that's a pretty good gig as well. It also comes as no surprise that a lot of politicians were and are lawyers and we all know how popular they are.
So there you go if you want a job that requires little sweat, little risk and aren't afraid of the limelight and don't care that you haven't a private life then perhaps politics is the road to choose.
Well-known raconteur Len Podbisky is a former Thompson Citizen and Nickel Belt News reporter and former news director of Arctic Radio CHTM-610 AM who now lives in The Pas