With all of what is happening in Canada and the world with politicians thinking they are better than the rest of us I got to writing down some of my thoughts about politicians and what I see as their role in serving us (and not us serving them). I may work on other things about politicians and post them here instead of my using Linux (and windows) topics.
I am not a political science expert, but, after decades of watching politicians at all levels of government I would like to put into writing things we the people should do to reform the political process and make it work for the people instead of the people working for the politicians.
First and foremost the politician's primary loyalty is to his or her constituents. If the politician is at the local level it is expected that they do not represent any political party. The provincial/territorial/federal level parties need to be reminded that the people elected the politician to represent the people of the riding and the decisions of the politicians should reflect the needs of the people over the needs of the party.
Every decision they make can be traced through their documents and communications and is stored outside of their control by the government and is open to the people for review. Some may not be available for a fixed period of time due to security, personnel, contractual issues, but, are eventually open to the scrutiny of the people.
It should be a given that all politicians keep current and accurate financial record of their running their office. All records should be kept at a minimum using GAAP. All electronic records should be stored in an open format and is available to all citizens upon request. All records should be available to the auditor general of that level of government upon request and the results are published and available to all citizens. All requests should be met within one calendar month, failure should result in the suspension of all privilege and duties of the politician until the records are supplied. If the records are not supplied within three calendar months then the position of the politician is declared open and a by-election must be held within sixty days.
All contributions to the politician should be from a person. Union and corporate contributions should not be allowed. Over the decades it appears that politicians are more responsive to the needs of large organizations and lobbyist rather than the needs of the individual constituent. forcing politicians to accept contributions at the personal level would force them to listen to the people and if the people don't like what the politician has done they can make their displeasure known with their wallets along with their vote. All contributions must be recorded as part of the politician's financial records, no exceptions! At the end of their campaign their records must follow the laws laid out and if not followed, a time-line similar to their finances of office are followed.
The pay for politicians are fixed for their term and cannot be changed until the next election. Outside experts will review the pay levels and make three recommendations. The first is that the pay remains at the same level. The second is to make a minor pay increase that is at the level of the lowest pay increase given to a bargaining unit during the prior term. The last recommendation is for a specific increase and document all of the reasons that lead to that recommendation. The three choices are part of the ballot in the next election. At no point can a government grant any special pay, bonuses or any special financial arrangements to themselves.
If the politician is asked to give a speech or help out with fund raising or a charity the politician cannot receive anything in return for performing that duty as they are compensated by the people to perform their job and this is part of their job. Travel, accommodation and other expenses will be covered by the politician and the expense is recorded according to the rules of the local/provincial/territorial/federal government they represent. All receipts detailing their expenses will be kept and stored as part of their financial records.
For their pension they should all be on a defined contribution plan and not a defined benefit. The main incentive is for the politician to serve the people and not to remain in office long enough to collect a pension at the expense of the people.
GIFTSIn the simplest terms, no gifts! Politicians are paid by the people to do the job they were elected to do. There are times that people, business or governments do provide a gift it should be held in trust for the people and not by the politician. All gifts should be recorded and the list including the donor is open to the people (and auditor) on demand. Gifts of tickets to events, travel, accommodation, conferences, etc. are not allowed!
All politicians can serve only a maximum of two full terms before stepping down for at least one full term. If the term they serve is less than one full term (depending on what a normal term is for the specific level of government) they can serve the next two full terms. For example at the local level a term is three years. If the politician is elected with two years left they can serve that term and the next two terms for a total of eight years before sitting out for the next three year term. This will force a turnover and allow new people and hopefully new ideas to serve. It will also hopefully force out professional politicians who know nothing, but, politics and allow talented people a chance to step up and serve the people. To put it bluntly, politicians should want to run for a limited number of issues they want to address and they have only two terms to get them done, or started, before leaving office. If the politician cannot get it done in two terms they probably could not get it done with unlimited terms.
All activities, meetings, discussions with a politician, or his/her staff is to be logged. Even a simple meeting with their constituents is kept in a log. If the person is acting as a lobbyist then the information on who they are working for is recorded. It is expected that the politician will keep an agenda of all activities and is submitted for archiving at a minimum every quarter. The politician must sign under oath that the records are true and accurate.
A record of all communications will be retained outside the control of the politician. If the communication is in hard copy format then where possible it is scanned and stored in an open format for archival. If not then the document is turned over to the government for archival and a note in electronic format documents this and where it is stored and the retention period. The Provincial Liberal party in 2013 deleting electronic communications demonstrates the need for a group outside the politician/party controlling and archiving communications. This also will apply to communication mediums that are not official government communications. If there are communications of this nature it must be forwarded to the official account and a note sent to the originator that all government communications must use the appropriate government account. Any politician or their staff violating this must turn over ownership of the account to the government immediately.