Government struggles with spring fever

By John Devitt

The seasons are changing as we all know and many of us become afflicted with what is known as ‘spring fever’.  Although spring fever often displays through symptoms including weariness, irritability, dizziness and headaches, we have commonly associated spring fever with general goofiness.  Look no further than our various levels of government to see evidence of goofy spring fever in action.

Locally there are many, many examples that leave you shaking your head.  After years of developing a Unified Development Bylaw, complete with its own website, YouTube videos, public meetings, high priced consultants and mountains of staff time… City Council decided earlier this month that they don’t want to do it anymore and have cancelled the project. Why not?  It only cost a measly $126,000, not including the cost of staff time of course.  And heck, its only money right?  There’s always more.

If shaking our poor citizens by their ankles doesn’t work, continued threats to cut snow removal might work.  This has been a favoured mayoral strategy for the past few years.  By threatening to remove an essential service such as snow removal, fear motivates the taxpayer to accept wasteful spending in all other areas.  Since slashing snow removal is the only solution the mayor can provide to better manage the budget, he is clearly stating that everything else is more essential than snow removal.  Creativity would be too expensive.

For example, if you’re sitting with a massive liability such as the golf course on your balance sheet that will require hundreds of thousands of dollars of investment to repair, does throwing it a $45,000 band aid at a cost to all tax payers really make sense?  At what point will the City open the door to business, sell the golf course and allow private investment to do what they cannot?

Provincially we are finally witnessing the demise of the HST, which has had ‘goofy ‘written all over it since the very beginning.  What took mere months to implement, has taken years and a provincial referendum to undo.  While there may have been many unrealized economic benefits to the harmonized tax system, goofy politicians mishandled it from the beginning and a measure that could have helped consumers is forever tarnished by the ‘stab in the back’ felt by voters from provincial Liberals.  As we near election time, will voters remember?

While our municipality appears to take the cake for obtuse spring fever-itis, our federal Conservative government wins.  Headlines around the world brightly exclaim Canadian Government Votes Against Science!

In a March 21st vote in the House of Commons, with resounding cheers from the 157 Conservative members of parliament, including our own David Wilks, the Canadian government voted against a motion that would effectively enshrine the importance of scientific evidence in formulation of public policy.  That sound you hear is the collective face-palming of the entire nation.  To read the entirety of the brief motion click here.   Just picture the oak paneled hallways of our parliament, rich in democracy, filled with backslapping Conservatives, “Hooray we beat science guys!”

Sigh.  Suggesting that we could leave the planet together would be an option, but since our government doesn’t believe in rocket ships (science), the plan may prove difficult.

Good news:

Next Federal election = October 19, 2015

Next Provincial election = May 14, 2013

Next Municipal election = November 15, 2014

Mark your calendars.