Candidates should take lie-detector tests

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Candidates should take lie-detector tests

VOTERS BEWARE: Lots of people shouldn't be running for office

 
By Jon Ferry, The Province November 14, 2011

 

Given all the untruths voiced at election time, should candidates for political office be forced to undergo lie-detector tests?

Well, it would certainly weed out the more sly and manipulative people in this current municipal campaign.

But I fear so many contestants would be eliminated that the election might become a case of the last person standing wins.

Lying (as in "I did not have sexual relations with that woman") or overpromising (as in "I promise to end homelessness by 2015") is as common among campaigning politicians as predicting doom and gloom is among climate scientists.

Sadly, voters have shown over the years they prefer to be told anything but the truth. And candidates discovered spilling their guts invariably go on to commit political hara-kiri.

Look no further than Vancouver Non-Partisan Association candidate Jason Lamarche, caught being candid about his date-rating habits.

I mean, does anybody think that, if the B.C. Liberals had told the truth about the HST before the 2009 provincial election, they'd have been reelected? No, they'd have been deer in the NDP headlights.

So how do we separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to picking mayors, councillors, school trustees and parks commissioners?

With great difficulty. But Richmond resident Merrill Muttart, a retired teacher, provides some pointers.

"My criteria for choosing candidates to vote for are fairly simple: upright character, a well-trained mind and an attitude of being a servant of all the people, free of prejudices and detached from self-interest," Muttart told the Richmond News.

Certainly, I like candidates with character. But if I lived in the City of Vancouver, I wouldn't be voting for mayoral candidate Darrell "Sax maniac" Zimmerman, who goes around waving a toy lobster. I'd worry what other fetishes he might have.

I'd also be suspicious of those who'd had troubles with the law, despite their insistence that they'd turned a corner in their life.

For example, if I were a Surrey voter, I'd probably rule out candidate Kuljinder Singh Gill (Gill 22 on the ballot), who has a criminal record for mischief and uttering threats and currently faces charges of impaired and dangerous driving.

I'd likely reject Gary Robinson, who served for years on Surrey council only to become snowed under by a serious cocaine addiction. I'd always wonder when the highs and lows of political life would trigger a relapse.

No, I like candidates without too much baggage: Those who are independent-minded but law-abiding, pleasant but not oily . . . and calm, but not robotic.

But I don't want to get too personal here, as I realize running for civic office is very tough. You have to have the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, the hide of a rhinoceros . . . and the flexibility of a snake.

Should political candidates have to take a polygraph test? In an ideal world, maybe.

But in the real world, it's up to Lower Mainland voters to do their own due diligence - and use their own tried and true bull detector.

jferry@theprovince.com

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