Promises, promises

As Chilliwack voters listen, they should keep three questions in mind: Are these ideas affordable? Are they doable? Are they practical?

Elections are a great opportunity to explore fresh ideas about the way we’re going to move forward over the next few years.

But as Chilliwack voters listen, they should keep three questions in mind: Are these ideas affordable? Are they doable? Are they practical?

The first one seems obvious. Except that in every election – federal, provincial and municipal – we are faced with promises that candidates have no practical means of keeping. So here’s a suggestion for candidates who want our vote: Don’t just tell us that you’re going to fix every pothole in Chilliwack, hire additional classroom staff, or put a roof over the downtown. Tell us what it’s going to cost and how it will be paid for.

The second would seem obvious, too, except that in every election candidates float ideas that have no chance of success. That’s because some candidates apparently don’t understand the limits of the office they’re seeking. Municipal governments and school boards are creatures of provincial legislation. Their powers are clearly defined. And although those powers continue to evolve, they remain limited. Vision and ideals are important, but they need to be grounded in reality.

Which brings us to the third question: Are they practical? Candidates could promise to cut our tax burden in half, or hire twice the number of police officers and firefighters. But they need to demonstrate the implications of these suggestions. Even a freeze on spending implies a budget cut (or the need for alternative sources of revenue) because of factors like inflation. Want to sharpen the scalpel? Then tell us where we’ll bleed, or how the pain will be mitigated.

Elections are about ideas and dreams for a better tomorrow.

But those ideas need substance, or they become nothing more than empty promises.