The mind of officialdom, as I’ve said before, can be mysterious and downright creepy.
In Nova Scotia, the provincial government is attempting to boost tourism on April 14 and 15, the 100th anniversary of the most famous sinking of all time. Fascination with the Titanic is understandable. Using that deadly disaster to hype Nova Scotia as a tourist destination is ghoulish.
“Visit the port where bodies were brought ashore!”
“Come see victims’ graves!”
“Stand on land on which they never did!”
The Titanic’s sinking was a historically significant event, and its anniversary should be marked. But, as with so many things, the involvement of commerce is questionable.
The Titanic tale has drama, of course. But seeing as how the sinking caused the ghastly and painful deaths of 1,500 people in icy waters in the middle of the night, Nova Scotians might want to ponder the appropriateness of using “Titanic” and “tourism” in the same sentence.
Officials at the Royal Canadian Mint should take similar note.
The mint is putting out three commemorative coins to mark the 100 years since the Titanic sank. A silver coin, depicting the Titanic approaching an iceberg, will sell for $64.95. Only 20,000 will be printed, ensuring its attraction for collectors.
People with less cash on hand, or who are too slow in whipping out their wallets, will have to settle for a silver-plated commemorative coin selling for $34.95, or a copper-nickel coin going for a bargain $25.95. Those are the steerage-class coins.
There is something subtly despicable about this. Perhaps it’s the mixing of trinkets and death.
It brings to mind those tacky TV commercials urging viewers to call now to purchase a limited edition “Twin Towers” commemorative coin. Fiery and horrific death for almost 3,000 people — get your souvenir!
Ah, the mind of officialdom. It is so content in its comfort and power that it can feel no shame or embarrassment.
Take, for example, Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s actions this week. She is so self-assured that she is seemingly unaware she has become a walking, talking specimen exemplifying George Orwell’s famous concept of doublethink — the ability to simultaneously hold two beliefs that directly contradict each other.
The province’s financial position is apparently so precarious that government departments — with several exceptions — have been instructed by the premier to cut three per cent from their budgets.
The great cult of “efficiency” dictates that such cuts are necessary. It is always possible to be more efficient. Efficiency is good. Never mind what the three per cent cuts might entail. Content isn’t important. Ideology is.
Cutting $100 million out of the government’s $7-billion budget proves Dunderdale is serious about dealing with the province’s horrendous debt and unpredictable finances.
Then again, if the public bank account is so paltry, you must wonder — yet again — about the government’s stubborn determination to blow $4.1 billion on the
$6.2-billion Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.
Surely, if the province’s finances are so dire that three per cent cuts must be found across all departments, the government cannot possibly afford to put $4.1 billion into a megaproject which — it must again be pointed out — private enterprise has refused to touch with a 10-foot investment.
The government’s financial situation is either dire, or not. Both cannot be true.
Some people are probably tired of arguing about Muskrat Falls. Get used to it. Your children and grandchildren will likely argue about it, too, as well as pay for it.
It comes down to this: the government is determined to push ahead with Muskrat Falls based not on wide-ranging facts, but on ideology.
Stubbornly sailing full-steam ahead can be disastrous. There are commemorative coins to prove it.
Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org