Do the right thing

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I don’t like to complain unless I have some inkling of a way out of the plaintive situation, but here we are, sliding slowly into a comfortably numb world, and I come up short of ideas about how we can safely redirect the glacial movement of government. I’ve seen how councils work, and the responsibilities they face, with limited resources and recourse. The prevalent interests of municipal councils are infrastructure, snow clearance, the fire department, and waste management.

Each month, new requirements are presented, meaning that the council has to squeeze more money out of a finite tax base. “It’s OK” we are told; “We can get a grant for that.”

However, we do recognize that grants from the provincial government come from provincial taxpayers, namely us? So the government collects taxes (non-negotiable) and sets out new directives, with which municipalities and MRCs are required to conform (non-negotiable). Grants are provided, but the grants are never 100% of the cost of doing exactly what regulators have remotely ordained. The majority of Quebecers live in cities or suburbs, and that’s where legislators get their votes, so the laws and regulations have no flexibility to adjust to rural situations.

Compliance is mandatory, but implementation and oversight are the burden of local bodies, ill-equipped to police the countryside seeking out crimes that used to be just how people did things.

Even so, I just came upon a bumper sticker’s worth of wisdom on this situation: “Do the right thing before it becomes law.” Hope this helps.

Robert Wills
Thorne and Shawville