Editorial – The ice was getting thin

Jeff Burgar

Are you a glass half-full person? Or the same glass half-empty? Do you believe you will attract more flies with honey than with vinegar? Decide.

Then look at some municipal government councils in the region over Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn. Rehn is one of the UCP government people caught travelling out of Alberta, or out of Canada. That, after Jason Kenney “asked” people, sort of, he says, to “Stay Home Save Lives.”

In fact, Rehn had a post saying exactly that on a social media page under his own picture. Then he boogied off to business interests in Texas. Then spent Christmas in Mexico.

Apparently, has not been seen, heard from since.

A very unhappy Slave Lake town council demanded he resign. A hardly as miffed High Prairie town council was critical, but said they would work with Rehn to improve the region. Big Lakes County by High Prairie was planning on sending similar words. Their words are secret, at least for now. The M.D. of Lesser Slave River hasn’t weighed in yet. No word from Metis Settlements or First Nations.

It’s kind of irrelevant now that Rehn is told to sit as an Independent by Kenney.

When any of us vote, we likely hope we will elect somebody with decent smarts. Also, fair. Having integrity. One who will treat all people equally. In practice, some hope their particular choice will give them some kind of preferred treatment over the neighbours.

Some never really want to say whom they will vote for, or whom they didn’t vote for. In particular, in any government anyplace that has a ward system, there is rarely criticism of a sitting local politician.

In rural Alberta, in counties and municipal districts, there are many people afraid of a backlash if they bad mouth their local guy or gal. It doesn’t take much for somebody down a country road, seeing their neighbours getting nice lifts of gravel and regular grading and plowing to think something is afoot. So they keep their mouths shut.

The sad part isn’t that some people are afraid what might happen. It’s sad in fact preferential treatment, good or bad, does indeed happen way too many times.

Businesses worry also. It doesn’t take much to lose a government contract. Or better, to win a contract with a low ball bid. Then see “add-ons and change orders” increase, and increase, and increase some more, much to the benefit of that contractor’s growing bank account.

Alberta’s over 120 newspapers were cut out of government business because some governments, argued correctly it was quite a burden on them to have many ad notices. For a city, a big expense.

But many rural politicians simply didn’t like criticism, fairly or unfairly, once in awhile. It was a long fight over many years and governments. Finally, Rachel Notley’s NDP caved in and changed the rules. Newspaper ads no longer required. Everywhere!

Some days, doing the right thing loses to plain old politics. Last week, it was all a toss up which local government was correct in dealing with Rehn. Honey? Vinegar? Thank goodness Premier Jason Kenney has now removed most of the temptation for an elected politician to start playing favourites.

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