Futility

When Justin Trudeau first got elected, I wrote to him.  I don’t know him but I had connections.  He got the letter.

The letter was polite.  I did not call him names or criticize him because that would be counter-productive and, anyway, he had just gotten in and I was just ecstatic that Harper had been turfed.  I got a response.

I wrote something along the lines of the following only more formal and polite:  “Justin, I have no idea what your party platform is (the Liberals always have a spongy platform on a gelatinous base and they are flexible and opportunistic at all times.  The official platform means nothing) but I am gonna advise you on one critical issue.  Pipelines.  Especially Trans Mountain.  Parliamentarians think the world revolves around Toronto and Ottawa.  Your perspective is wrong.  The truth is that the world revolves around the natural environment and, in BC, that environment is extra loved.  British Columbians on the coast, in particular, will not accept seven massive oil tankers full of sludge every day plying the Gulf of Georgia.

“I know that you claim to be an environmentalist but you are also a politician with a nasty oil-province bastard in the family.  So, it will be hard.  But nothing will tax your leadership like pipeline issues.  Tread carefully and get creative.  Diluted bitumen will not be well received here.  Consider building a refinery in Alberta.  Consider going east with a different pipeline.  Consider going anywhere but do NOT use the Gulf of Georgia.  That will be your undoing.”

Of course, we know where that warning went eventually.  It went the way of almost all letters to government these days.  Round file.  But I had to write.  I had to do what I can.  And that one was so obvious.  I have written several letters over the past few years and it has only been lately that I am now convinced they are no longer read.  I used to get nice form letters back from some flunky but now I get nothing.

Which is too bad.  It seems hearing from the citizenry is not appreciated by government now – if it ever was.  But, even if ignored in the minds of the decision makers, the writer usually received some acknowledgement of their efforts.  Not anymore, it seems.  These guys are more unaccountable and unresponsive than ever.

They seem to think:  “To hell with ’em.  Let ’em eat cake or watch hockey or something…” 

The irony, of course, is that a failing environment sinks all boats.  To pollute, poison, savage and ravage and harvest all the trees, to rape the oceans and leave them unproductive, to continue to add carcinogens to our lives is really quite bad for even the oil business.  Who they gonna sell to if everyone is on chemo?  Why that doesn’t register with them is beyond me.

But that is the way it is in 2020.

For the record, I write to the Provincial Legislature, too.  Horgan.  Weaver.  I even write to Socred/Liberals, as well.  But no one writes back.  No one acknowledges anything.  Occasionally some hack Assistant Deputy Minister will grudgingly cut and paste a few form-letter paragraphs that miss the entire point I was raising.  But, generally speaking, they don’t care.   I confess that, when faced with a glacier of indifference, I eventually feel like giving up but well, it is not easy to stop writing.  So, I keep it up.

Futility, they name is Dave.

I wrote all that above so I could tell you about a recent exception.  Provincial Ministry of Transportation wrote back to explain to me what I already knew and had told them in my letter to them.  It’s about roads.  But this one is a classic in stupid responses: In the letter from Ms Cousens, she states, “If you are faced with downed trees on the old logging road, call the Mainroad Contracting helpline.  I know that road and have traveled it.  I also know there is no cell service on that road or even half that island.  So call them as soon as you get out.”

“Uh, Ms Cousens, if you know there is no cell service and you also know that people can NOT get out on the logging road due to fallen trees, how are they to ‘get out and make a call’?  Unless, like me, they actually take a chainsaw with them and take the trees away?

“And then, Ms Cousens, this may be hard to grasp from your office in Victoria, but why would I call Mainroad to remove trees I have already removed?”

I dunno…is it better to get no letters in response?  Is that worse than stupid letters in response?  Has the world gone entirely mad?  In every respect?

And, really, how much do we pay Ms Cousens for sitting in an office and coming up with that crap?

Yes, you are right, convalescing in Campbell River makes for disgruntlement.  Disgruntlement, for me, means taking it out on stupid bureaucrats.  At least they are not an endangered species.  Too bad. They should be.

 

19 thoughts on “Futility

  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly Dave. Politicians do not listen, unless it’s gone viral, and certainly not when common sense is involved! I do not know where they are taking us, but I do KNOW, it is stupid, it is NOT a good place AND that I do NOT wish to go!
    Convalescing???
    I must have missed something, but I sure hope you are well!
    Take good care D. David.

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    • Thanks. Convalescing refers to Sal. She had a total knee replacement surgery last week and is now recuperating, learning to walk with it and suffering the associated pains that go with such surgery. It’s hard but, as she says with a smile, “It’s OK. I am healing every day. And I am enjoying making you step and fetch. In fact, I may linger a bit….”

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      • well that is both good and bad news then!
        I’m glad you are well but very sorry to hear of SUPER Sal’s need for new parts. I wish Her a speedy recovery. Now is the season for it, no?, if it needs doing and CR seems a pretty fine place to do so. I 🙏 all will be just F.I.N.E. soon. Take VERY good care of Her… David.

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  2. The exercising of power requires consent. The exercising of power through coercion is a poor long term strategy. Coercion often leads to escalation then into violence as happened at Oka. Canada has levels of governments and levels of jurisdictions. Currently we have some Provincial police forces yet to enforce injunctions to remove protesters. But the failure of a Provincial Police Force to speedily enforce an injunction now sits on the Prime Ministers desk. How so? We have a constitutional democracy in Canada, how do failures of the Provincial governments real and imagined to act…morph into Federal problems?

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    • …..when they involve First Nations (the answer to your question).
      All the provinces ‘dodge’ First Nations confrontations when they can citing ‘Federal Jurisdiction’. To be fair, it is an impossible situation for everyone. First Nations are NOT a separate nation and yet, with some court decisions, they have been given the impression that they are….and that is just plain confusing.
      Twenty years ago, I was inclined to think that this bifurcation of the citizenry was divisive and would only continue the friction and separation of FNs and Canadians.
      Now?
      I am not so sure. It seems we get more ‘leadership and resistance to government bullying’ from the FNs than we do from the shee-ople. Especially over issues like rivers, oceans, fish and such. The average Canadian is too busy working two jobs and paying a staggering sum just to exist. They are NOT in a revolutionary mindset. They are just plain tired. FNs, on the other hand, have a less work-mortgage-new car motivation ethic/culture and they have been given ‘some kind of licence’ to oppose police that ‘we’ do not have.
      Our leaders are NOT real leaders…they are simply suck-hole followers of the party system. There is not a creative, courageous bone in a Conservative, Liberal and likely the other similarly run parties. Ya want a leader? Most of them are coming out of the FNs.

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      • Well….good question….is a hereditary leader a better leader than an elected one? I do not think the answer is a clear yes or no. The older FN leaders, hereditary or elected, which is better – even that is up for debate.
        But my observation is not based on their system vs ours so much as the fact that more FN leaders ‘stand up’, get counted, make noise and demand results. Our sheople don’t do that. We just obediently vote for one of the three choices offered to us by the system that is designed for perpetuating itself.
        Don’t misunderstand me…. El Chapo was a real leader. Hitler was a real leader. So was Churchill. So, to my great annoyance, is Trump. When a sheep doffs their wool clothing and stand out amongst the crowd, they are either ‘leaders’ or ‘deviants’. If they are leaders, the majority of the sheep follow. If the majority does NOT follow, they are called deviants. And deviants (with staying power) keep at it until the old leader fails and the deviant can say, “Pick me! Pick me!”
        According to studies (none of which I can refer to accurately) , in any group of six or more, there is a leader, a deviant and a group that follows. It’s a recognized human social dynamic.
        So, yes! FNs are producing more leaders and deviants than we are. We just create sheep.
        Keep in mind that ‘being the leader’ does not confer ability or anything noble or good but (probably) just some kind of charisma. And that applies to the deviant as well. So it is really the flock that chooses the leader.
        We, the sheople, have delegated choosing to ‘rigged’, clique-like party committees. We, the PEOPLE, have abdicated our power of choice. “We have met the enemy and he is us!!!!” (Walt Kelly. POGO)

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  3. You’re right, Dave. The flunkies are flunkies for a reason. They get told told what to do and say. Any attempt to duectly address the point of constituents, is a career limiting move on their part. So it is not so much a problem of bureaucracy as poor government. As an ex-flunky, I would think that though. In addition, unless your government is a particularly enlightened one, there will be fewer flunkies to go around to answer letters like yours. In addition, because you live in such a bleeding heart province, it is not likely that you are going to vote for a conservative candidate, right?
    Definitely futile. If your community is very lucky, you nay be able to get your local member to come to a community forum. Be wary of those organised by government though, because chances are invitations to these will be limited to those that are agreeable.
    So yep, futile. But, by writing, at least you can say that you told them so. You never know, one day the advice might be taken up, especially if you have important contacts and they can present it as their own idea.
    But who cares, right? A good idea is a good idea is a good idea.

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    • Yeah…there are a million good ideas out there. But getting them realized is the REAL issue, not our ability to talk, dream, be creative and have good ideas. Bottom line: Ya gotta DO, not talk.
      And, to be fair, I am an offender, a sinner, a talker, a dreamer and a lazy butt-head. But I am only all that wishy washy crap 9 times out of ten. Once in a while I actually DO one of my dreams. I consider that ‘planning process’ more like using a shotgun in life than a sniper rifle. Throw enough good ideas out there and one will catch on. With me, I think up dumb stuff all the time. Sal just smiles and waits a year…..if it is still coming up in conversation, she’ll say, “Well, you have been babbling on about that for some time. I may just have to start listening. A year of babbling makes it almost serious. You serious?”
      THAT usually sobers me up. I get outta my dream-state and start to REALLY think. “Hmmmmmmmm….am I serious?”
      And THAT is our ‘vetting process’.

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    • Voting for a socially conservative and fiscally conservative candidate since 1900 has been mostly the history of British Columbia. We have had many Conservatives. Currently we have a colalition of the Green Party and a left of centre party called the NDP. NDP is sorta like some Labour Parties. We do still send Conservatives of all descriptions to our Federal Parliament. The Conservatives tend to be Socially Conservative, pro carbon extraction and Climate Change Deniers.

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  4. What is your definition of leadership? Experience suggests that it is better to work within the constraints than to decry the existence of constraints.

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  5. Leadership that is based or premised on coercion is ineffective leadership. When treats, bullying, obstruction and cognitive dissonance are employed coercion escalates. An effective use of leadership is found through the use of influence. Many think that authority and its use is leadership but they are mistaken. Leadership is only effective if the actions intended have received consent. Refusing to give one’s consent for a decision and employing coercive actions to over turn it will similarly fail. Conciliation is the only path forward because coercive threats make for an ominous future. Dr Peterson suggests that “echo chambers or silos of belief’’ constraint or limit solutions.

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    • MY definition of leadership is DIFFERENT. I am sure of that. For most people it is the person or group that ‘tells them what to do’. That is NOT leadership to me. That is oppression, coercion, elitism, bullying and intimidation (not to mention constant brainwashing).
      My definition of potential leader starts with the person. Are they smart, independent, free-thinking and proactive? Do they have a vision, a cause, a good moral foundation? Is the quest they are undertaking noble and good for all, not just them? Are they unselfish and do they possess courage? Do they have a good plan? If they have all that, then I may follow them.
      But I might not. I am the chooser of my leader, the potential leader is not the chooser of me, the follower.
      I am also, by nature, more of a deviant/leader (more inclined to deviance, to be honest) than a follower-type bleating in unison and chanting slogans. I do not usually follow simply because the so-called leaders don’t usually have the above mentioned qualities. Our so-called leaders are simply NOT worthy.
      But, I followed on our community land purchase initiative because our local ‘leaders’ did have those qualities. I am not afraid to follow. There is simply a dearth of such good people at all the levels needed. And I know of none right now on the national or even provincial stage.
      \By definition, there are none in any party. Why? Because the leader has to ‘lead’ a hoary institution to control a larger and hoarier institution. There is nothing creative there, nothing courageous, nothing NOT selfish. Ours is a system of greed, elitism, and status quo-as-she-goes.

      A true leader (in my view) does not require followers. They see a better path that others don’t and they decide to take it. If people want to come along, great! If not, the ‘leader’ or free-thinking, independent person takes the path they discovered anyway (and puts on the ‘deviant hat’). If people follow later on, that is nice but that does NOT mean they then put on the ‘leaders’ cap. Only the followers can so anoint.

      Groucho Marx once famously said that he would not join any club that would have him. That is NOT leadership but it does manifest a lot of what I think leadership is…a rejection of the status quo and a choosing to walk your own path instead.

      I have often been put in the leadership position by my work (and sports). I am no better or worse at it than average but I did learn that the best tool I had was leading by example. That and telling the truth were the two traits I had to start with. Staff were onside if I did what they had to do, if I acted as I asked them to act, if I told the truth when called and if I put them ahead of me. “Being the boss is the worst job. You not only have to know how everyone else’s job works, you have to be able to do it. More to the point, you have to take care and support the the staff so that they, in turn, care for the operation. That means covering for them, helping them, teaching them and only putting the good of the operation ahead of them. The minute I thought to put myself first, I would lose them. Being the boss means being the lowest person on the workforce/team and the first person to take the responsibility.
      I am a bigger fan of deviance than leadership – the deviant can walk alone.

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  6. I agree that the use of the power vested in a person with authority is NOT leadership. School Principals are mistakenly called Educational Leaders. Such figures are vested with the authority of the School Act to discipline, to supervise, to hire and fire but having School Act authority does not make one a leader. Politicians have authority but to exercise influence a leader requires consent. Many articles discuss ‘Authority vs leadership.’ But these two forms of power continue to be wrongly conflated. The Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller has vested in him the authority of his ministry but he is not an indigenous leader! Mr Miller has learned to speak Mohawk and a remote possibility exists that he many be able to influence the present actions of the Mohawk protesters. Mr Miller prior to becoming a Minister of the Crown successfully mediated a dispute between two Mohawk groups. This successful mediation might have built some influence with the different Mohawk groups but time will tell. The group ‘Extinction Rebellion’ has no authority but is clearly able to show leadership by exercising its influence. I agree mostly with the claim that politicians are not leaders but there are notable exceptions such as Churchill. It is no surprise that those with proscribed authorities exercise such authorities without political influence. Authority is not vested in a person but in a role such as a Supreme Court Judge.

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  7. I can’t say that I disagree with what is listed above as to what is a good leader etc., I only see that the governors that we have, consistently, are poor, but I do not believe that that is their main failure as politicians. It is the fact that they fail to do what is ‘right’ (as I believe it to be), nor what it seems the People are wanting, and that they oh so often lie their faces off while doing it. There is not doubt that these politicians can not be so pathetically and impossibly bad at their jobs, but that they are cowtowing (sp?) to the corporations and not those that elected them to their very well (ie. over) paid jobs. Our system is F’d and one need only look immediately South to see just how badly our systems of governance are run, as far as suiting the will of the majority of the People.
    I wish Us all well!🤞🙏🤘

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    • We agree, Dave. And we share your despair.
      The thing I do NOT understand is how a good person (even a lifetime party suckhole) can be ‘in power’ in government and then NOT speak up, NOT rage against the machine, NOT be our inner protest to that which is so obviously corrupt? How can they so meekly submit to the ‘party’ or the ‘party whip’ or the ‘leader’? What happened to their OWN voice? Do they drug those folks? Is the pension and the privilege package so seductive, they just roll over and sell out? What the hell happened to them?
      C’mon….? I know that they are faced with resistance-to-change. I know that they are NOT the all-powerful leader. I know that they feel like impostors because they haven’t a clue as to what to do. I know all that. AND they KNEW THAT going in! But what is stopping a retired, rich lawyer or anyone over 65 from standing up, getting counted and speaking their mind? What?
      You telling me my MLA or my MP is 100% satisfied that all is right with this picture? They can’t ALL be that stupid. So why not SAY SO? WHY NOT SPEAK UP? Who are they afraid of?

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  8. Politicians propose policies to please their electors. Many Politicians are whiney little sycophants in fear of their electors. If their electors want socially conservative policies then you get a leader who refuses to walk in a gay pride parade and denounces LGBQ Rights. If your elector is a fiscally Conservative voter then you are obliged to cut services to veterans to balance the budget but still run a deficit for nine out of ten years that the party was in power. They are cowards because the voters to elected disingenuous MPs. It’s not the government that is corrupt it is the voters who want a politician to impose the voter’s minority views upon all Canadians. That is the real travesty. If the socially conservative do not approve of LGBQ rights then let them accept the law of the land.You know their motto, “Obey the Law.”

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