Get Off My Back!

The municipal election has come and gone and by now we are all aware that 3 out of 7 Councilor positions have been replaced here in our County. Best wishes to the new ones – may you never forget why you chose to run and why you were supported in your endeavor.

Prior to the municipal elections in Alberta this 2013 I came across an article in BEEF illustrated, written by BJ Smith, which absolutely hits the mark. With the kind permission of both Garth McClintock, publisher/editor of BEEF illustrated and BJ Smith, we pass on the article to you.


Leo Tolstoy said it best: “I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means — except by getting off his back.” We’re about to face a local election and I sincerely hope that my friends (& foes), neighbors and acquaintances remember what has occurred since the last election. Particular attention should be paid to the decisions made “in camera”. That term, in itself, is an oxymoron. If a council is held in camera, trot out the pictures and give us the information. Justification of this closed door process is insulting. The powers that shut the door on their electorate claim they have to protect us from the media or from knowing about who they’re hiring or firing. Come on! If the matters are so terribly delicate, that’s all the more reason to bring them out into the open and let them air out. Every year, without exception, our taxes have gone up and we have a legitimate right to know who we’re carrying and why.
If history remains consistent, our citizens will stay away from the ballot box in droves. This illustrates the frustration felt when we have little or no influence in the decisions required to fulfill an objective. Those who make and debate critical decisions have been transformed, since taking office, into superior beings, who are in a better position to regulate our lives and commerce. It doesn’t seem to matter whether this power trip manifests itself in a community, a county, a province or a country. Feeling victimized by our elected representatives is so common place that too many of us accept it as a matter of course. It’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ve never sat in your local coffee shop and heard the “wise men” discuss wonderful road repair and building, health service, bureaucrat efficiency and service, access to problem solving and generally feeling they’re getting their money’s worth out of their taxes. No way! The talk swirls around wasted projects, endless trips, long waits for services, expenditures beyond all common sense and lack of respect for the politicians. In our immediate area we had a blue ribbon panel discuss closing our two rural schools. We could have kept our schools another year without this foolishness, but no we lost them. Now, we’re funding a $250,000 study an whether to amalgamate the county and the town. Another huge blow for the rural electorate, who’s fewer numbers will have even less impact on our council and expenditures. I’ve no doubt our frustration is mirrored throughout the rural communities.
Optimism is an essential part of a stockman’s DNA. Were it not, we couldn’t face the hardships of our chosen vocation. There is always hope that stalwart and honest people will come forward and shore up our political institutions. Unfortunately, most of us are carrying such heavy loads that adding public service is beyond our capabilities. However, turning our backs and neglecting to vote, allowing misuse of public funds without howling in protest, re-electing the same tired hacks or worse allowing them to retain their power through acclimation is NOT an option. To use an analogy: if every Jew in Nazi Germany had answered the terrible knock on the door with a loaded gun and used it, history might have recorded a few less Jewish deaths and definitely would have eliminated a few SS bullies. If every politician knew that his voting record, his use of public funds and his personal ethics would never be a secret, history might record a few less politicians lying and conniving and definitely would eliminate bullying their constituents.