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Posted: April 6, 2019

What’s in a name?

Letter to Editor

What’s in a name? If someone were to run for politics, would the voters be more impressed by a family name and the accomplishments of great grandparents/grandparents or by the candidate’s personal achievements and competencies?

A fine family name is all well and good but it’s not enough. Our own personal reputations speak to who we are, what we stand for, what we have done and what we can do. They showcase our skills, competencies, morals and values. It’s important we vote for people who have made their own names; built their own personal reputations. In any type of government, we need qualified, skillful people who can give evidence of achievements and community service.

Of course politics and business are replete with examples of living off of someone else’s name. But that doesn’t make it right. Consider the following.

Did Justin Trudeau win the prime minister-ship on his own merits and achievements or on his father’s? What role did his father’s reputation play? Consider the Ford brothers in Ontario. Would most people have voted for Doug Ford if he didn’t bring with him the notoriety of his brother, Rob? Maybe, maybe not.

How much influence did husband Jack Layton’s political reputation have on the election of his widow, Olivia Chan? In B.C. we had Premier W.A.C. Bennet followed by his son, Bill Bennet. The father had a very strong, reputation and numerous achievements under his belt. Did that assist the son?

Granted, at least these examples give evidence of people’s backgrounds in political families that might facilitate what the job entails. But is that enough? Is that adequate? No.

Think about this … if I was from a long line of lawyers, would I be qualified to be one? No, of course not. I would have to achieve much personally and uniquely along the way to prove I’m qualified. My family couldn’t do this for me. Politicians can’t either.

Relying on a family’s reputation of wealth, influence or achievement rather than one’s own can be risky, too. It runs the chance of developing enemies, suspect of how a position was obtained. Perhaps you’ve heard people complain about how co-workers got hired or promoted ‘because so-and-so is his/her father’?

Or they might have complained, ‘oh, that person just got voted in because of their family name.’ This certainly suggests, right or wrong, fair or unfair, that these positions were not achieved on personal merit! And perhaps this type of thinking also suggests that a person with a family reputation can get ahead in life more easily, with less skills and competencies; that they don’t need to be self-made.   What do you think?

We’ll be voting again this year and next. While personal and family reputations will certainly play a part in how we measure a candidate, I hope all of us will make our choices based on the individuals – those who’ve made positive names for themselves on their own and who are qualified to represent you in various positions in government.

So going forward, don’t ask candidates about family history. It’s irrelevant to the job. The family is not running in the election! Ask him/her instead about personal accomplishments, skills, and commitment to community service. The achievements of forefathers/mothers are theirs alone, not the candidates!

Melodie Hull,


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