Thursday, July 1, 2010

of bureaucrats and politicians

It's odd how a stop-you-in-your-tracks story evaporates when the media decides it's lost its market value. The Wandering River Fire Department story generated a hurricane of opinions from a wide range of people. There were boneheads that understand volunteer firefighters less than BP understands oil well capping. There were government officials that care as much about recruitment as a moose cares about a mosquito. In between were the volunteers who know the issues better than Ed Stelmach, Hector Goudreau, and Stephen Harper put together and multiplied to the 10th power. That's a lousy comparison, by the way. Zero multiplied ever so many times still equals zero. The volunteers really do understand the issues, in all of their nitty, gritty, relevant details.

After all that kerfuffle, you'd think there would be follow up stories about politicians brainstorming a solution, or bureaucrats putting their heads together with the municipality, or at least Ed Stelmach flying over Highway 63 to view the unattended car wrecks, but there is nothing. The news is as devoid of Wandering River as Parliament is of good manners during question period.

These volunteers deserve to not be swept under the rug. Not because they are better or nobler or truer than other volunteers (although they may be). This issue deserves attention because it is indeed the tip of an iceberg. Most of Canada is serviced by volunteers. Our elected leaders pay lip service to their hard work and dwindling numbers, then ignore them at budget time.

I feel an article coming on. Time to write furiously.

Before I do, let me say that I met a nice politician last evening at Upsala's Peripheral Edge of the Universe fireworks display. No, I'm not even being sarcastic. John Rafferty is the NDP member of Parliament for the Thunder Bay-Rainy River riding. He was touring his domain yesterday and landed in Upsala at dusk.

John was a teacher by profession, which makes me like him. That's no reason to support someone, I know. The guy could be an ax murderer in his spare time, but I like him because he was a teacher? But there's more. My wife likes him, and she's a good judge of character even if I'm not. His party is also introducing a volunteer firefighter tax credit as a private member's bill, which is a good reason to like someone. And the clincher: of all the places that MP Rafferty could have been last evening, generating lots of support and shaking lots of hands, he chose to stop in Upsala where there were more mosquitoes waiting than loyal constituents.

Of course he could have had ulterior motives. He may have divined that I would say nice things about him in my blog, and that my readers would read those nice things and support him in the next election. But not likely. He was a teacher by profession, not a politician, so he's smart enough to know that as many moose read my blog as Thunder Bay-Rainy River constituents. And moose have not yet won the right to vote. Yet another cause for me to champion.

By the way, my letter to Mr. Rafferty (link to template included in my last post) was supposed to be in the mail today. He personally encouraged me to send it. But the weather was hot and sunny, and my family was all home, and the lake called, so we went boating and tubing and knee boarding instead. The letter can wait until Monday. I'm sure the issues will still be there waiting.

And now, it's time to write furiously.

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