We need a law against lying in politics

Of all the lies she’s told throughout her political career, Danielle Smith’s latest might be the biggest yet. After insisting that it was the Alberta Electricity System Operator (AESO) that “asked us to pause” renewable energy development last year, it turns out that AESO’s CEO was actually opposed to it all along. In an email that came to light through a freedom of information request of the narwhal Drew Anderson, AESO executive director Mike Law, indicated he “did not support” the idea. “A ‘closed for business’ message to renewables will be a major challenge to the province’s reputation,” he wrote.

This is already having a number of potential negative outcomes for Alberta, from the independence of its supposedly independent electricity market operator to the damage this decision is causing to investment in the province. This week only, TransAlta announced the cancellation of its 300-megawatt Riplinger wind farm in Cardston due to new provincial regulations and suspended three additional renewable energy projects.

Unfortunately, this probably won’t negatively affect Smith’s popularity. We have come to expect our elected officials to lie to us, and they have been more than happy to meet (or not) that standard. When Pierre Poilievre and his conservative MPs Telling blatant lies, whether about carbon tax or the drug treatment in BC (they have been decriminalized, not “legalized”), most of us (journalists and non-Conservative MPs included) have almost gotten used to them by now.

To be fair, the same applies to lies told by those on the other side of the House of Commons, even if they occur much less frequently. We are all increasingly desensitized to the cost of these lies, big and small, and the corrosive impact they have on our political discourse and the decisions that flow from it.

Of course, this is not unique to Canada. Politicians lie everywhere. But at least one politician is willing to do something about it. Adam Price, Welsh MP and former leader of the centre-left Plaid Cymru party, recently presented an amendment to that country’s broader electoral reform law that proposes making it illegal for an elected official or candidate to “intentionally mislead parliament or the public.” Opinions, beliefs and other non-factual statements would be exempt from this bill which is supported by the Welsh Liberal and Conservative Democrats.

This isn’t Price’s first rodeo here. He Become famous for trying to oust former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for lying about the Iraq War, and clearly still believes in the importance of politicians telling the truth. “If a doctor lies, they are fired,” he said. said CBC How does it happen. “If a lawyer lies, he is disbarred. And yet we seem to have tolerated a democratic culture in which politicians can lie with impunity. Well, that has to stop.”

Donald Trump’s arrival on the political scene in 2016 and his well-documented status as the world’s most voracious liar created a permission structure for other would-be liars to test their own limits. So has the decline of the mainstream media and the rise of a right-wing news ecosystem that disregards the truth almost as contemptuously as the journalists who attempt to report it. And while those tendencies are most visible in American politics, where everything (including lies and liars) is bigger, they can also be clearly seen in ours.

Such a law may very well not pass constitutional muster in Canada, although, if Poilievre is willing to preemptively invoke the charter, then perhaps Justin Trudeau could do the same here. But perhaps as a first step, his government could appoint a parliamentary official tasked with cataloging hoax crimes and identifying the politicians responsible for them. yes ex toronto star American reporter and fact-checker extraordinaire Daniel Dale is looking for an opportunity to return home, this could be the perfect job for him.

Cynics will surely suggest that this would have no significant impact on our political discourse, let alone the natural inclination of politicians to twist the truth of any given situation to their advantage. Maybe they are right. But at a time when misinformation is more widespread than ever and when democratic institutions are increasingly under attack, we should at least have the courage to find out.

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