Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Lee Richardson does not speak for me

As some of you may have heard, we've had quite a bit of rain here. It caused flooding just about everywhere between Edmonton and Lethbridge (separated north-south by more than 400km). Many people's homes have been destroyed (see Dust My Broom for pics of what's probably the worst area in the province); countless more have suffered property damage and/or were evacuated.

When you can't find an upside to a crisis, you can generally at least find a learning opportunity, and I believe that's the case here. In short, disaster response and management is a pretty good model for where the responsibilities of the various levels of Canadian government should lie. Usually, the federal government is concerned with things like how fast my hospital can provide me with a CT scan, and what I should be allowed to put in my kids lunch, whereas local governments address issues like what to do about nuclear weapons, and whether various pesticides are scientifically justifiable. It makes no bloody sense at all.

When a flood or other disaster happens, and plans & decisions need to be made promptly, we see local governments, or even voluntary associations in communities, manage direct action. Of course! People who are right there, and the politicians responsible directly to them, are the ones most able to prioritize and address the right needs immediately. Provincial, and less so federal, governments provide financial assistance after the fact.

Note that this division of responsibilities has nothing at all to do with the importance of the issue. Stuff like evacuations and emergency sheltering are literally a matter of life or death for some, and yet we don't see Anne McLellan elbowing the Mayor of High River aside saying, "This is serious--I'll take over from here." (Gallows humour sidebar from Mrs. Aldini's brother: "Surprising to see a flood in a place named High River". Ahem.)

I'm quite aware that the desire to have the remotest level of government provide most services is inseparable from the plausibility of believing that "someone else" is paying for it, but I wish people would look at situations like the one in Alberta now and think, "You know, maybe 'national standards' are not self-evidently superior".

P.S. This whole rant was, errr, inspired by Calgary Southeast MP Lee Richardson (CPC) in today's National Post:
"The real question is: where are the feds?" said Tory MP Lee Richardson, whose Calgary riding includes the overflowing Bow and Elbow rivers and is among the worst-hit areas.

"If this was happening in central Canada, the Prime Minister would have been there 20 minutes later."

Oh, shut up. Alberta makes a terrible victim - and that suits me just fine.


At 7:00 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the point is the show, or lack of show, of moral support. Maybe he did not articulate it well enough, but the fact is that dependant on the situation the "faces" will be out when they think they can benifit from it. Liberal "faces" in Alberta, no benny, Liberal "faces" in Quebec or Alberta, bennies. Personal gain, no more, no less.

At 9:07 p.m., Blogger MapMaster said...

Here in central Canada, Alberta's flooding is already out of the news — lasted a couple of days, tops. You don't need us, and I bless Alberta for that reason.


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