Barack Obama: a ray of light for responsible, effective government

Editorial

While hundreds of millions of Americans were rejoicing following the inauguration of newly-elected United States President Barack Obama last week and prophesizing it as one of America’s greatest days ever, it could very well end up being one of Canada’s greatest days ever as well because finally and definitively, we are witnessing first-hand what leadership – true leadership is all about.

Furthermore, we are fortunate enough to be seeing what the role of government actually should be – that being first and foremost, transparent. No – not the lip service type of transparency that we’ve seen time and time again here from both the provincial and federal governments that campaigned on it in both of last year’s elections and ending up to about as transparent as trying to drive through a good old Alberta blizzard.

After all, as John Stewart put it in a recent editorial in the Red Deer Advocate, “An unwillingness to communicate fully suggest a lack of trust – and a certain arrogance of purpose – that doesn’t make for good government. It does, however, make for growing alienation.”

Hmmmm, doesn’t that sound familiar?

But rather than wasting any more ink dwelling on the ineptness and anti-Obama type of government we’ve seen out of Ottawa, let’s compare it to some other rather inept forms of government starting right here at home.

Besides, according to talk coming out of the opposition parties this past weekend, the soon-to-be-former prime minister won’t be around for much longer anyway.

On his first official day of work as the new leader of the free world, President Obama immediately stepped up to the plate and implemented a wage freeze on White House staff earning more than $100,000 signaling a commitment to fiscal restraint while lessening the effects of the current recession.

On the other hand, Alberta’s leader, knowing full well, or at the very least should’ve known full well that a serious economic crisis was coming as long as a year ago, decided he and his cronies were fully entitled to dig into the public purse and give themselves raises that would be the envy of the mass majority of residents in this province while further squandering hundreds of millions of dollars leaving Alberta where it is right now – teetering on the brink of going belly-up.

On his first day on the job, President Obama implemented strict new ethics rules aimed at severely restricting the role of special-interest lobby groups and has forbidden any member of his administration from receiving gifts from anyone with an outside agenda.

Meanwhile over in Alberta, Ed Stelmach paid out millions of the taxpayer’s money to a handful of his and Ralph Klein’s buddies in the form of severance packages following the abysmal management of the previous heath boards, then formed a new ‘super board’, again filled with his former colleagues and cronies, only to see it drowning in red ink to the tune of $1.3 billion just a few short months later.

Further, instead of putting the health and well being of residents in Alberta first, Stelmach instead opted to continue to put the health and well being of big oil first despite repeated outcries from the public. And if that isn’t bad enough, Uncle Ed’s new plan to save Alberta – if you can call it a plan, is to go to Washington and try to talk President Obama out of his pledge to distance the United States from using ‘dirty’ oil.

Good luck with that one Ed because you’re not dealing with George W. Bush anymore.

For years and years while living back in the old country, all we heard about was how rich Alberta was and how they had gotten all their problems under control. By the sounds of it, there was no unemployment, no homelessness, no poverty and no food banks in Alberta and they had a massive nest egg in the hundreds of millions – maybe even billions of dollars stashed away just in case the province hit the proverbial wall.

In fact, the province was so rich the newscasts would tell us, that Alberta could afford to give each and every member of their three million-plus population, a cheque in the mount of $400 for every man, woman and child.

Yet, here we are just five or so years later and the same ruling party is warning citizens to brace for huge cuts in education, health care and their standards of living as tens of thousands of jobs go down the tubes.

Oh, and don’t blame it all on this ‘unforeseen’ economic crisis either because as above, every economist worth his or her weight in salt knew this was coming long ago which begs two obvious questions: where did all that money go? And why weren’t we better prepared for the economic collapse?

While the new government of Barack Obama may very well turn out to be a beacon of light for all others to emulate, it has also gone a long way in showing just how sorely lacking the leadership – true leadership has been lately in both the provincial and federal governments.

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And while leadership may be something we rarely see, there is a bit of good news on the issue of justice in that the British Columbia SPCA has ruled that Edmonton-based lawyer Frank Mackay will not be getting his horses back.

In case you missed it, it was Mackay who abandoned two horses in the mountains near McBride, B.C. for the better part of four months to fend for themselves. Luckily, a group of snowmobilers found the starving and frostbitten horses and after a week of hard work in bitterly cold temperatures, led the horses to safety. While there was no word whether Mackay will face criminal charges, he does have the opportunity to appeal the ruling.

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Over the past number of months, regular readers of the Rimbey Review have most likely noticed a substantial increase in the number of locally-generated letters to the editor that have appeared here, and as Martha Stewart says, “That’s a good thing.” After all, if you the reader take the time to write a letter, we at the very least, should ensure that all our readers have the opportunity to read it.

Having said that though, in a lot of cases the letters are getting longer and longer and as a result, it puts more pressure on other pages in the paper. While all your input and opinions are greatly appreciated, now is the time to remind you that we would prefer if you could keep your letters around the suggested length of 350 words.

It’s understandable that in many cases, the topics of the letters require more than that amount of words to properly convey the point, but we would ask that if possible, submitters try to ensure their comments are kept as brief as possible.