“A politician should have three hats. One for throwing into the ring, one for talking through, and one for pulling rabbits out of if elected.” — Carl Sandburg (1878-1967), American poet
Forget the Blue Book. That’s just a blueprint of intentions.
Vote for me instead and I’ll spell out for you exactly what you can expect. I’ll tell you what’s in it for you and I’ll be perfectly up front, transparent and accountable.
That’s my mantra, right?
If you make me your elected representative, here’s what you’ll get.
For the first few years of my mandate, I will lavish you with gifts, paid for with your own hard-earned money.
New playground equipment? Check.
New fire truck? Check. (Or should I say cheque?) And I’ll even deliver it to your town in person, so be sure to have someone on hand with a camera that day.
Water system upgrade? No problem.
Bridge need repairs? We’re on it.
Pavement? You won’t even need to ask.
Wellness grants. Employment assistance programs. Job creation projects. Water bombers. Brush-cutting. Home heating oil rebates. New hospitals and long-term-care facilities. Whiteboards — better yet, Smartboards! — in every school, and brand new roofs for those schools that need ’em. Beefed-up security systems at court? Yes sir. What the hell — we’ll even throw in a wheelchair ramp for the Appeal Court building. Equal access to justice, and all that.
We’ll recruit more doctors. Train more police officers. We’ll improve dialysis units. We’ll chip in money for “Republic of Doyle” — people seem to really like that show.
We’ll fix up Confederation Building, too.
And we’ll plot strategy: a youth retention strategy; a moose management strategy; an anti-poverty strategy; an immigration strategy. You name it, we’ll come up with a strategy to throw at it. Well, either that or a task force.
What’s that? Prisons? Cramped conditions?
Well, HMP got a new ventilation system recently, but we haven’t got a fortune to be doling out on a bunch of prisoners who’ve got nothing better to do than whine about the pen psychiatrist.
It’s certainly not a spending priority.
And anyway, money’s starting to get a little tight now. Maybe we went just a tad overboard on the goodies.
And, hear that? That whooshing sound? That’s the sound of the price of oil plummeting.
Uh-oh. I didn’t see that coming.
But don’t you worry about it.
Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m all about keeping you in the loop, remember?
I’m going to have to tighten a few belts. Cut back a bit.
Let’s see now … the Department of Justice is pretty big.
“Second largest employee staff in government,” I believe I heard Felix Collins say last year.
Well then, they can do with a few less lawyers, I’m sure. A few less clerks. A few less probation officers and corrections staff and sheriff’s officers.
What about conservation officers? Librarians? Teachers?
Cut ’er back.
Let me let you in on a little secret, while we’re having this frank discussion; do you know how much time and money are sucked up by employees in government having to respond to people making requests for information? It boggles the mind.
One of the first things I’d do is make it harder for people to request stuff; give them fewer things they can ask to see.
That’d save a bundle in paper and black markers, alone.
Now that I think about it, the Human Rights Commission could do with a little trim. Who uses that anyway? People who are hard done by. Cry me a river.
There are no sacred cows as far as I’m concerned. And I will look to my own house, first, as it were, to save money. It’s only right.
I’ll get rid of a few hundred public servants. No one will miss them if I cut a few from this department, a few from that one. Lowest on the totem pole? Out you go.
And, do we really need as many school boards as we have? Think of all that duplication — all those extra staples and printer cartridges and computers.
Let’s roll them all into one big super school board. We can ensconce the staff in one central location — Atlantic Place. After all, why should the townie school board officials be the only ones allowed a million-dollar view of the harbour?
And, speaking of education, why should my crowd be providing adult basic education? Sure, the private colleges are already doing that. Let them have all the work.
I’m all for free enterprise.
What I’m not for is free rides.
The dental program is way too posh — why should you and I pay if someone doesn’t have sense enough to take care of their teeth?
I’d slash that to the bone.
And The Rooms! Can you imagine how much that beast costs to heat? Until it can rent itself out for enough events to pay for itself, I’d say we shut ’er down now and then. Reduce the hours.
After all, there’s only so much time people want to be spending looking at stuffed birds and arrowheads and whatnot.
You’ll see, once I implement my “fiscal restraint measures” (no one likes to say “cuts” — ouch!) and a few hundred bankers’ boxes have been hauled out of Confederation Building, we’ll be on the road to fiscal recovery. You’ll see — it’ll all even out in a year or two.
That’s a promise.
Pam Frampton is a columnist and The Telegram’s associate managing editor. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: pam_frampton