Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Plan

The Plan: Appear at Queens Park with this demand: "Budget a few hundred million for volunteer firefighters (you yahoos) or my henchmen will vote you out faster than you can say HST."

The Problem: every politician knows that my "henchmen" are imaginary. And even if by some miracle I could rally to the cause every acquaintance I know, our united front would be about as scary as a herd of rabbits picketing the local wolves' den.

Side note 1: I probably wouldn't actually call them 'yahoos.' I'd just think it . . . which is equally rude, but less satisfying.


Erinn visited the fire hall the other day. She eyed my office and said, "Promise you'll hire a cleaning person for our house if I ever drop dead." I can see her point. I don't want my kids living in between a conglomerated scramble of boxes, books, folders, and unfinished paperwork either. So, I promised.

Every messy person has an excuse. Here's mine: I'd do better if the evil anti-volunteer syndicates didn't take up so much of my time. But Erinn doesn't understand that. Or maybe she does understand, and knows that they will always take up my time, and therefore I won't ever be a tidy, organized person.

Besides, tidy, organized people are less efficient and less productive. Honest. I read it on the Internet, so it has to be true. Here's proof. And did you know that penicillin would never have been discovered if Alexander Fleming hadn't been a messy person that left an old, mouldy Petri dish laying around?

I love the Internet.


Our venerated leaders know that the volunteer service isn't a voters' Garden of Eden that bursts with political support, so they pause for a few seconds to thank us for saving Ontario a billion dollars, and then gallop off to greener pastures like health care and unemployment and homelessness.

So here's Plan B. Instead of calling them yahoos, lets threaten that the greener pastures will dry up if they ignore us. Health care will languish because of dwindling first responders. Unemployment will soar because of damages to business establishments, due to insufficient firefighters. Homelessness will increase because more houses will burn down.

The only problem is that the politicians will want facts. Darn.


I'm not a totally hopeless slob, you know. I do wash the trucks once in a while, and sweep the floors occasionally. And a few times a year, I attack the clutter in my office with the fervor of a Tasmanian Devil on a caffeine high. I just have other priorities that cut in on the time I allot for janitorial and organizational duties.

And did you know that tidy, organized people are less efficient . . . um, I used that argument already.


Moving on to Plan C . . . I could concede that health care and unemployment and homelessness are indeed valid issues that require lots of money. I could acknowledge that our country owes gazillions of dollars to the Chinese (who don't care a fig about volunteer firefighters). Instead of threats, I could talk to my local MP like the civil, semi-organized person that I am, and educate him on the issues we face, and maybe, just maybe he'll try to help. He might tell me that the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs is lobbying for a $3000 tax credit for volunteer firefighters, and he'll see if he can light a fire (figuratively) under someone to get the legislation moving.

Side note 2: Go to the above link or click here for a page that will give you the opportunity to support this initiative. It won't cost you anything but a few minutes.

He might even say that he'll work on a private member's bill in support of volunteer firefighters at the federal level. He won't offer much hope that it will be passed, but he'll say that it will at least bring the issue to the forefront and possibly lay ground work for a successful bill in the future. And he'll definitely say that I should go after those provincial politicians as well (who are not of his party) and hold them to account. They are the ones that have the real ability to help.

For the record, I did have the above conversation with MP John Rafferty, along with several other fire chiefs. While the outcome wasn't a cheque in the volunteer bank, it was at least more productive than calling all politicians yahoos. I think.

MPP Bill Mauro is next on the list, but I haven't been able to secure a meeting with him yet. He's probably busy dealing with health care and unemployment and homelessness. I may have to work on a Plan D.

To finish this unorganized post, my latest article for Fire and EMS Quarterly is available over at Firefighting in Canada. Click here.

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