Should we expect promises to be broken?

Should we hold politicians to their campaign promises?


In his Globe and Mail column this morning, Toronto City Hall reporter Marcus Gee addresses this question. (

Gee reports on Toronto Mayor John Tory’s reversal of promise regarding the increase of TTC fares. He acknowledges that promising no fare hike was foolish. He questions whether anyone believed that to begin with. And he recognizes that “it is unfair to hold politicians to hold every one of their promises”, as things can change and some promises have to be jettisoned. But this was not one of those items. Tory knew the state of the transit situation, it was a major platform of his campaign. Now, in the midst of promising free rides for those under 12 years of age, he declares the need for a 10 cent fare hike.

So, should we hold politicians to their promises? Gee concludes: “If we accept that politicians are always going to go back on what they promise, it makes evaluating their competing platforms impossible. Worse, it makes voters doubt everything they say.”

We may be powerless in holding politicians, or anyone for that matter, to their promises. But we must acknowledge that credibility and integrity fly out the window when promises are broken. What is the point of saying you will do something if you have no intention of following through? In marketing and retail this is blatant false advertising. To excuse it in areas like politics or personal interactions is to render expectations irrelevant. This empties any relationship of the very foundation of trust.

We may be jaded from past experience, and believe no politician can be trusted. Who would blame you? But the old adage still stands the test of time: Don’t make promises you cannot keep.

Are you setting yourself up to destroy trust by making promises you cannot keep?

What promises have you made that you may need to revise?

 Expect cover 111

© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2015

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press –


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