"When you get in public life, you take the good and you take the bad. So people will say what they want about the people who are in public life. The challenge is when the things that are said about me are visited on my nephews, my nieces, my sons when they were growing up. That is not good for public life." That's what Gordon Campbell told reporters last week during a news conference following his decision to resign. And he's right - "We all have to raise our game...And we have to learn how we have discussions about things without personalizing." But I have deep concerns about where this particular line of thought begins and ends.
Too often, I think, many politicians bemoan the state of public discourse not because of its ocassional ugliness but because they dislike the scrutiny that comes with being an elected official - having their motivations questioned and their backgrounds investigated. But that's democracy. And, in a democracy, even the righteous can and, indeed, must be tested.
Moreover, let us not pretend all those who occupy higher office are there for higher reasons. Because while it's true many are, there are many who are not and still more who have no reason to be there - except as the next step in their career or out of despite for their opponents. And let me clear: that applies to both sides of the political aisle in this province.
As such, we should be wary of being too quick to heed the advice of the scrutinized when it comes to determining what is acceptable in public discourse and what is not. Because, for them, that advice may not solely be in the service of the public interest. It may also be in the service of their private interest. And to ignore that duality is a dangerously establishmentarian position to take.