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Stan Oliver: Identifying armchair politicians

Stan's Stance
Stan's Stance - Contributed

Some people call it armchair politics (a debate ordinary people have when discussing local issues) or armchair politicians (a person who seems to have a poorly based opinion on every public aspect, debates them all blindly and usually does it with very little to no research) to describe political pundits-individuals who observe from the sidelines - thus the phase armchair!

Armchair politicians are also usually not very informed on the details of the topic but have a very strong opinion on the issue at hand and don’t mind letting you know. I have to admit, that I love reading, watching, debating and sometimes participating in politics myself so I guess without insulting myself or anyone else - I am a self-professed armchair politician. So, my stance (opinion on this issue) is: we all have a voice and are entitled to an opinion. Are we not?

With all the media frenzy circling about regarding the recent happenings in the Provincial House of Assembly, even those who are only notionally interested in politics, can’t help but watch what is happening and have an opinion-one way or the other. 

More from Stan Oliver:

The facts are the facts

Effects go beyond

Thoughts of Silence

Looking forward

Each year and just about on each issue (specifically during a municipal, provincial and federal elections), I have an opinion. For a lot a people in Labrador, it is no secret that I have a long-standing history with the provincial Liberal party as an advocate and campaign organizer, but I also like to listen to the views of others. From time to time, my interpretation and view on a certain topic changes by new information and considerations/facts that others bring forward. Which I hope and recommend all elected officials should do.

I listened to MHA Paul Lane on VOCM, and I believe he said it best, “I sat in the House as a Liberal and a PC, there was bulling in both caucuses, but today that sort arrogances/attitude is not tolerated nor should it be.” (Not verbatim.)  

When I ran for public office as a town councillor with the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay (and was successful in being elected five consecutive times), I offered voters a picture of myself that wasn’t necessarily issue specific but instead I told them if elected, I would put people first and attempt to keep four basic questions in mind when making decisions: is it in the best interest of the community as a whole?; how would the decision affect the budget (meaning is it worth doing and can we afford it?; how would we go about implementing the decision in context of existing policies and procedures?; can you justify, rationalize and defend your decision to the general public? This, of course, is sometimes hard to do if the pubic does not have all the information you have.

It has been my experience, the armchair politician never ever got near a university door to a political science 101 course and when asked where they derived their so called political knowledge, it is clear, it is from political chasm such as formal media, social media, news print and of course the coffee shop rumour mill. Thus, it becomes pretty evident that and I would even go so far as to wager a bet to state that most armchair politicians have never had a seat on any town council nor have been a sitting Member of the Provincial House of Assembly or the Federal House of Commons.

More important, the armchair politician can be easily identified: they usually lack any substantial political credentials/experience while their real political wisdom has come from anything but political involvement. They are only equipped with political jargon and not the true facts.

What’s happening in the Provincial House of Assembly is most disturbing to say the least, and like many, I await the outcome of the commissioner’s report and subsequent recommendations that will hopefully improve the whole environment in the House.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, armchair politicians are easy to recognize, their message is mostly from a negative perspective and stand point, as they verbalize and sometimes write their message or view with an unmistakeable tone of misleading facts and incorrect information. They like to criticize those involved without offering any real useful and helpful advice.  Although, I am sure I speak for all of us when we say we are certainly appreciative that we live in a country such as Canada where all opinions can be heard without fear of government repercussions. But boys and girls, just learn to be respectful and play nice!   

Stan Oliver writes from Happy Valley-Goose Bay and can be reached at .

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