I have to admit,” Grant Toews was saying as Andrew Jackson set a coffee cup on
“ I the café table and sat down in the last
empty chair, “that sometimes I’m not sure why I even bother to vote. I mean, why do we even have a government? Aside from wasting our hard-earned money what is the government good for?”
Andrew took a sip of coffee and waited momentarily for one of the other occupants at the table, Robert Harder and Charles Krupp, to reply, but neither of them did. Andrew put down his cup.
“I hear what you’re saying,” he said, “but the answer to your question is blindingly obvious. We need government for one reason. Say, just for instance, that we have a couple of years of unusually wet weather. Say the ground gets too saturated and the lake levels rise higher than normal. And then, say we get too much snow and then when spring comes we get too much rain and then the Assiniboine River floods at a one-in-300-year level and Lake Manitoba rises so high that every town within five miles of it has to be evacuated and farms have to be abandoned and cattle sold and cottages and houses end up in the lake and there is no guarantee that things will ever go back to the way they were before… here’s the question. If we don’t have a government, who are we going to blame?”
There was a brief pause.
“So what you’re saying is that the primary role of government is to take the blame for everything?” Grant sounded as if he thought that was actually quite plausible.
“They might as well,” Robert piped up. “It’s all their fault.”
“It’s absolutely true,” said Charles. “Governments make one bad decision after another year after year and then suddenly one day it rains a couple inches too much and boom, there’s hell to pay. Should’ve built that drain at the north end of the lake like they said they would. Should’ve done something about the native reserves so they could run more water through Fairford without drowning everybody. Should’ve realized that once every 300 years there’s a 300-year flood, and they should’ve had a plan for that.”
There was another pause. “Then again,” said Andrew, “sometimes it just rains too much.”
“True,” said Robert. “There is that.” “So you’re saying it isn’t always the government’s fault?” said Grant.
“Not always,” said Andrew. “But they still have to take the blame,” he added.
“Why?” said Grant.
“Because,” said Andrew, “that’s their primary function. Maybe even their only function.”
“Oh right,” said Grant. “You said that.” He paused. “So is that why Harper’s dismantling the Canadian Wheat Board?” he asked.
Andrew looked confused. “I’m not sure I understand the correlation,” he said.
“Well obviously,” said Grant, “as long as the wheat board has a monopoly on selling Canadian wheat, then they have to take the blame when farmers can’t make a decent living growing the stuff. But taking the blame is the function of the government. So basically as long as the wheat board exists, it robs the government of its reason to exist.”
“Actually,” said Andrew, “I don’t think Harper’s thought of that. But you make a very good point.”
“Speaking of good points,” said Robert, “how come every time a Conservative government gets a majority Manitoba gets shafted? I mean, regardless of the fact that no two people agree on what to do with the wheat board, ending the monopoly is going to cost Manitoba a whole whack of jobs, and maybe close Churchill down for good. So that’s bad for Manitoba, right?”
“Sometimes you have to make personal sacrifices for the greater good,” said Charles. “If taking apart the wheat board is better for Canada, then Manitoba has to sacrifice.”
“Right,” said Andrew. “And if it’s not better for Canada, then Manitoba has to sacrifice anyway because we elected a government that wants to try it to find out. I mean they told us they were going to do it and we elected them.”
“Aha!” said Grant. “So that’s how Harper managed to hide his real agenda!”
“Huh?” Andrew again looked confused.
“He hid it in plain sight!” said Grant. “He knew that nobody believes politicians are going to keep their promises, so he fooled people into thinking he wasn’t going to do things by promising to do them. But now he actually is going to do them and people feel shocked and betrayed. He fooled us all into thinking we couldn’t trust him and now it turns out we can!”
“Wow,” said Charles. “That’s brilliant.”
“Actually,” said Grant, “that’s just devious.”
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