Politicians from different levels of government shouldn’t be allowed in the same room together because they’re apt to engage in a silly little show of one-upmanship—with taxpayers’ money at stake.
That’s precisely what happened Friday during the BIA’s annual luncheon when Mayor Glenn Witherspoon promised $500,000 of town money towards renovations at La Verendrye hospital if local MP Robert Nault would commit $500,000 of federal funds to getting a dialysis unit here.
Of course, Mr. Nault couldn’t back down—and now both men are left having to go back to their respective corners (the Civic Centre and Ottawa) and come up with the cash.
Trouble is, at least in the case of Mayor Witherspoon, town council doesn’t know anything about this. Talking to some councillors this morning, the question of contributing municipal funds—of any amount—to the hospital hasn’t come up (behind closed doors or otherwise).
Yet suddenly, the town’s on the hook for $500,000.
To be fair, Mayor Witherspoon no doubt made his pledge with good intentions (as did Mr. Nault). And seeing the town chip in on our health care, given the money it spent recently on the Townshend Theatre and new arena, likely warrants applause.
But let’s have the proper debate, study, and public input first. The last thing we want—or need—is another arena mess that stems from off-the-cuff promises made by an elected official.
They tend to come back and haunt all of us.