Tuesday July 29, 2014


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You are the government

Last Angry Man

The great thing about readers responding to my column is that it often gives me new reasons to get angry.

As you may recall, last week I wrote a column about our unrealistic expectations of the Oil and Gas Commission that persist largely because we generally refuse to engage with that government agency in a meaningful way.

The gist of the column was that we created a mythical monster and now we do everything we can keep that villain alive.

I promptly received an email from a resident of the area Ė I wonít mention your name Ė who rebuked me in the following fashion:

ďThe BC Oil and Gas commission was created by our governments and the oil and gas industry for the purpose of rubber stamping the give-away of our fresh water to the oil and gas industry and facilitating the massive, unconscionable, unregulated extraction of our resources in any other way they can. Everything else about them is facade to give them an air of legitimacy. They do not deserve trust, recognition or respect, nor do our irresponsible governments or the greed driven fossil fuel industries. I believe that is why people avoid them as much as possible.Ē

I am not about to say that the OGC or the oil and gas industry are infallible. And I would never dream of saying that about the government. But the sort of attitude shown by the individual who sent that email infuriates me.

First, I donít like supposed statements of fact with no factual evidence to back them up. If you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the OGC is an evil puppet of an evil industry, I will believe you. Until that time, I prefer to be just as skeptical of you as I am of government and its agencies, not because I think you and they might be liars and cheats out to get me, but because I donít have perfect faith in the methods and practices employed by either of you.

Second, no government entity is ever going to deserve your trust, recognition or respect if you donít show them what your trust, recognition and respect are worth or how they can be won. If you prefer avoidance over discussion, you are ensuring that they will never even know that you have an issue with their practices, ensuring that they will never know that earning your trust, recognition and respect is both a possibility and a desirable result of their actions.

Basically, unless you are ready and able to launch a massive Russian Revolution-style uprising, by refusing to meaningfully engage with government and its agencies you are only causing your own insignificance.

At least in terms of public policy.

And I know this sort of situation isnít unique to you and the OGC, but occurs again and again with everything from BC Hydro to the premierís office.

It seems that we have forgotten that we are the government. The OGC and BC Hydro and every other ministry and crown corporation are our employees. And you want to be a boss who never talks to them? If that is the case, this isnít a business that is likely to succeed.

If youíre the boss, you have to lead. You have to know the facts and figures. You have to be able to determine the right thing to do in any situation. And you have to know how to delegate those responsibilities.

And you have to remember it isnít only up to the employees to earn your trust, recognition and respect. You have to earn their trust, recognition and respect, too.



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