Spring Cleaning

It is that time of year where I try to get an hour or so in deleting, shredding etc of the stuff I don’t need anymore.  There was a time I was an employer and as an employer you have a legal responsibility to maintain employment records for a certain period of time.  So I have them organized into shredding years and March tends to be my shredding month (tax time).  It’s a Friday afternoon, overcast with a very grey sky and I’ve just thrown a load of laundry in.  Might as well do a data cleanse.

The upside is I can eliminate hoarder from my list of possible disorders (OCD is still there but with a question mark).  The downside is you wind up reviewing things from the past believing “wow look at what we accomplished”.  But that was seventeen years ago and all we have to do is watch a Republican presidential candidate debate to realize how little those accomplishments have been.

A 1999 national strategy to fight racism and where are we today?
A 1999 national strategy to fight racism and where are we today?

In 1999 a swell of anti-racism was sweeping the labour movement in Canada.  The Canadian Labour Congress had provided a nation wide recommendation in the pursuit of anti-racism.   Anti-racism awareness training was a busy industry.  I know, I was involved in all of it.  I was involved in policy development, trainer/advisor, consultant and consumer.  Being a consumer was important as the whole process was being self determined, not imposed by a body of individuals with no personal knowledge of the issues.  We were building a better world, or so we thought.

Racism is stronger in Canada today than it was in 1999.   Where did it go wrong?  In my opinion, and from my observations, the consumers have slowly been being removed from the consultation process.  There has been a slow erosion of consumer involvement in community decision making going on for the last ten years.

In a variety of punitive ways, the Harper discouraged consultation by moving against NGOs, independent agencies, watchdog groups, and tribunals who showed signs of differing with his intent.  Jason Kenney coined the phase “defunded” as the adjective associated with “shutdown” and spread enough public fear to create the “charity chill“.

The targets of such tactics included Rights and Democracy group, Elections Canada, Veterans’ Ombudsman Pat Stogran, Budget Officer Kevin Page and many more.  Another casualty to this mentality was David Suzuki.

The whole concept of removing consultation or, at the very least, not structuring consultation has slowly trickled down to the level of local governments.  The larger cities like Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and so on were much more prepared to handle this shift because they already had a bureaucracy.  The Swift Currents, Medicine Hat’s and Nanaimo’s of the country weren’t ready for this shift.  The same old boys who had been doing the same old thing, with all good intentions, for so long that it has been difficult to move towards this more accountable and transparent way of doing business.

If we have learnt anything from our history it should be that silencing dissent does not lead to positive outcomes.   Every level of policy makers and governments need to move back to the consultative model rather than relying on 20 year old policies.

I was recently at a City of Nanaimo City Council meeting where they discussed consumer input.  I went a couple of days later to the City website and looked around for committees to get involved with.  I will spend hours researching a topic or examining a process and it took me almost that long to navigate myself around their website.  I don’t believe the average citizen would take that time.  The City needs to be a little bit more proactive on their committee recruitment process by making it more user friendly for those wanting to join committees.

It is only by everyone sitting down and talking (not PROTECTING) that advancements can be made that accommodate all citizens.  Maybe, by returning to a true consultative approach, the ability to use common sense may start to filter its way back up in this world!

Just one man’s opinion!




One thought on “Spring Cleaning

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