They were lying. We knew they were lying, even while they were still telling them. We voted for them anyway.

 

Some of us may have secretly hoped — for our children’s children’s sake — that, not only were they lying, but also that they understood they were lying so they wouldn’t then feel obliged to translate their little lies into big policies after those lies had finally accomplished what they were designed to do in the first place -- helping them get elected.

 

Now that they’ve had to admit — without actually admitting, of course — that they lied to us, can any of us truthfully say we’re surprised? Or, more importantly, that we think they should stick to their lies and hurtle us further down the highway to hell in our handcart of an economy?

 

I thought not.

Welcome to politics in the 21st century, where we listen to lies and hear truths, and where no good lie goes punished.

At least not in the short term.

Late last week, Premier Darrell Dexter’s blue ribbon panel of economic experts officially diagnosed what ails us. We face a future filled with lower government revenues, the panel explained, thanks not so much to the current recession — which we seem to be weathering better than expected — but to more significant structural problems like declining offshore revenues and equalization payments, which, unfortunately, we can’t simply spend our way out of.

The panel’s Buckley’s Mixture of get-well-slow solutions: Increase taxes and decrease services.
Dexter’s NDP government, with seemly haste, embraced the report and effectively declared all its key recent election campaign promises — remember the balanced budget with nice new programs and no bad new taxes — null and void.

The interesting thing about all of this is how little it appeared to surprise — or upset — us.

That may be because we’d already decided, long before last spring’s election was called, that Tory Premier Rodney MacDonald — a young-old, good ole boy reincarnation of spend-and-spend-some-more John Buchanan — had to go.

And that earnest new Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil — while he might very well be telling the truth about the financial situation and might someday be premier — wasn’t quite ready for prime time.

Which left us with sensible-shoes Darrell Dexter, who seemed smart enough to tell us what we wanted to hear yet wise enough to know we didn’t really want him to do what we wanted him to promise he would.

So now here we are. Coming to terms with truths that dare not speak their name. Welcome to politics in the 21st century indeed.

Stephen Kimber, the Rogers Communications Chair in Journalism at the University of Kings College, is the author of eight books.