Into the fray

by Andru McCracken, Editor


Politics is an intriguing field. Why do people sign up for it?

The perks are not what you would expect. The pay is miserly, the hours are awful, people seek you out when they are angry. They don’t often make a great effort to reach out and say great job when everything is going okay.

When I get a soup and sandwich from the local cafe, I thank the people who make it. I thank the person who delivers it to the table. If it’s great, I’ll call out a compliment. When I pay, I’ll add a tip.

When your block has been nicely plowed, your driveway open, water running, sewer working, garbage has been collected, do you ever call up public works and tell the crew thanks? Ever call up the mayor and say, “Geewhiz, Jeannette, great job today!”

“Thank you Loranne, I’m really enjoying my water and sewer this week.”

Ever try and tip on your taxes because you are so happy with the services?

No you don’t.

The work itself is often a real dilemma. It is easy to underestimate how challenging governance is.

When you apply to build your garage, you’ll be sorely disappointed to find out there is a maximum height that makes your little outbuilding useless for anything other than a smallish sedan with low profile tires.

When planning one’s garage, no one wishes for a bylaw dictating what seems to be an arbitrary maximum height. “Gee I wish we had a village council and a ream of bylaws that could help make this simple task extra difficult and quite possibly more expensive,” said no one ever.

No right thinking individual wants to be regulated. They want OTHER people to be regulated.

Your neighbour wants that bylaw (until it’s time for them to build a garage).

It’s not hard to see why politicians universally have a bad name.

Fundamentally, local government is about providing the most basic services. Water, sewer, roads, a few sidewalks, garbage collection. And governments typically do a great job of it. Really.

Compare what you pay for your cell phone against what you pay for water, sewer, garbage collection, and road clearing. You’d be opting for pay as you go, and it could get real awkward at the end of the month.

Fortunately local governments don’t use the profit model, they look for inexpensive solutions to the problems that we face as a community. They don’t always get everything right, but they do a pretty good job, current councils included.

The reality is when people come together to solve complex problems, you end up with some sort of government. Fortunately for us, some people step up. Next time you see them, tip them. Or at least tell them thanks.

And thanks!

Support local journalism by subscribing below.


Online subscriptions - cancel free within 30 days
Paper subscriptions