“Good afternoon,” began a recent email from an assistant deputy minister to government employees of the humbler sort who don’t get to travel first class to faraway places but who may need to use a Government of Alberta vehicle now and again in the course of their duties.
You know, the type of employees who have been rewarded for the loyalty and hard work by being made subject to the unconstitutional vagaries of Bills 45 and 46 and having their pensions undermined by the Government of Premier Alison Redford.
“I want to touch base with you on the topic of using fleet vehicles to transport non-GOA individuals,” this little billet-doux, which arrived on Valentine’s Day under the heading Fleet Vehicle Use, began. GOA, of course, is bureaucratese for Government of Alberta.
“Transporting children or spouses is deemed to be ‘personal use,’ and thus not permitted under any circumstances,” it went on.
Now, please understand that I am not complaining about this prudent policy.
I suppose one could make a case – as some have in similar circumstances – that if the vehicle was going that way anyway and there’s no additional cost, what’s the harm or problem with taking along an extra passenger or two. Especially, you know, if one wishes to spend a little extra time with one’s child or spouse, something we can all understand.
Indeed, Deputy Premier Dave Hancock made just such a case in the Legislature yesterday, telling the opposition: “If you’re an MLA or cabinet minister or a premier, one should not have to abandon their family to do their job.” If you are a civil servant, however, apparently you will.
Nevertheless, while inconvenient, this is a perfectly reasonable rule for a large organization like the Alberta Public Service to insist upon. It eliminates all possibility of misuse of government property for personal gain, and it ensures that not only is the right thing being done, it is obvious to the public that it is being done.
Readers will note that this approach precludes the possibility of the government employee offering to pay afterward if he or she is caught driving a spouse or child in a GOA vehicle. On the contrary, I expect, discipline would be a certainty.
What is so galling about so-called Conservative governments like the one headed by Premier Redford, as has been observed all to often before in this space, is that the rules for some are not the rules for all.
If they were – given then natural human propensity to keep just a little back for ourselves – a lot of political and personal grief could have been avoided, both for the premier herself and her evidently unravelling government.
It goes without saying that Canadians could and would have more respect for our leaders if they applied the same rules to their own conduct as they demand from the rest of us. Unfortunately, it appears increasingly as if we are going to have to have another government entirely to see this happen in Alberta.
Speaking of Ms. Redford, unconstitutional laws and different rules for different classes of citizen, I note with interest that those who wish to leave comments on the premier’s Facebook page are precluded for saying anything that, among a long list of other exclusions, “are contrary to the principles of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
What would happen, I wonder, if one were to add a comment saying: “strongly support Bills 45 and 46, especially the bans on free speech for all Albertans and the right to assembly for members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees”?
They’d have to delete it for being contrary to the letter of the Charter, not to mention its principles, presumably.
The rules for commenting also ban contributions from labour organizations, but I suppose that will have to be a comment for another day.
Writing blog posts about the Alberta premier’s first-class flights of fancy in dreary hotel rooms is going to have to stop – thank goodness! – with my scheduled return from the nation’s capital on the morrow. I do not expect to be flying first class, more’s the pity, or even business class. This post also appears on Rabble.ca.
Outstanding work Mr. Climenhaga. It’s almost like you were there in the coffee room with us, except that we don’t have one (or coffee either for that matter).
The politician breaks the rules; the bureaucrats are punished. Ah, life on Planet Government.
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