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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 16, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta 4-THE LETHBRIDQB February 1974 Followership crisis By Joseph Kraft, syndicated commentator mm WORLD Economic issue only After the public has been heard, city council will have to decide on the future of the city power plant. In view of the consultants' report the onus would seem to be upon those, in council or elsewhere, who would oppose the sale. As we cautioned earlier, there is no place for political dogma in arriving at a decision. Some people believe private enterprise is inherently evil and public ownership inherently virtuous, and in any choice between good and evil of course the city must choose good. Some others feel that anything that smacks of socialism is evil and must be spurned, forgetting that Lethbridge got along quite well for many years with a municipally-owned plant and that almost all of Canada's power industry is owned by provincial governments. The issues here are simply price and service. If Lethbridge can buy power cheaper than it can produce it, and get equally good service, then there is no reason for not buying it; indeed, not to do so is equivalent to penalizing the citizens. The service is a consideration. If by getting all of its power from the end of a 300-mile transmission line the city will frequently be out of power, then perhaps any price saving would not be worth the inconvenience. However the danger of frequent outages must be examined objectively, not emotionally. The provincial government has stated a fairly firm policy that natural gas should not be used for power generation in Alberta; coal should be used instead. Where would Lethbridge get coal? Any talk of reopening underground mines near the city is unrealistic; nobody could be found to work in the mines. There is WEEKEND MEDITATION strip coal in Southern Alberta but the city of Lethbridge is hardly in a position to build power plants at the coal sites. Calgary Power can and eventually will. The risk of Calgary Power taking advantage of the city by jacking up prices whenever it felt like it has been badly misrepresented. The company does not set its own rates. They are set by the Public Utilities Commission, a government appointed body. Its guidelines are the solvency of the company and the best interests of the consumer. If the commission were weak and subject to undue influence from the company there might be cause for alarm. But there is no evidence whatever that this is the case. In other words, the board would give the city of Lethbridge, as purchaser from Calgary Power, all the protection it needed. (It might be noted that the commission has no authority over the rates charged the consumers by the City of Lethbridge.) Alberta is the only province in which power generation is still mostly done by private industry. Everywhere else the provincial governments have taken over, and if there is a local municipally owned distribution system it must buy from the provincial hydro without the protection of any board. No doubt there will be growing political pressure in Alberta for the government to take over the privately owned utility companies. If that should ever happen it is almost certain the provincial hydro system would take over the city plant. In the meantime the decision facing Lethbridge is simply one of economics how can it get adequate power at the least cost. What do you see What you see in anything depends on what you are. One might say, that what you see depends on what you bring to it. A scientist looks at a situation and sees something quite different from the layman. A1 doctor looks at a sick man and his view is quite different from that of the untrained person. So it is in every field of life. "You see as you is an old saying. Michelangelo was found staring at a piece of discarded marble. "What do you friends asked him. "I see an he replied and from the rude, unshaped marble he made the sculpture of his famous David. A woman once remarked to the artist Turner that she never saw the sunsets he painted. 'But madam, don't you wish you replied Turner. This is the task of the artist, to make men see. Ibsen, the dramatist, said that his task was not to make men laugh nor to make them cry, but to make them see. The poet Browning said, "We're made so that we love first when we see them painted, things we have passed perhaps a hundred times nor cared to see." Everyone in this country has seen snow, but few have seen a snowflake. A scientist in New England spent a life-time photographing snow crystals. He found that there were no two snowflakes exactly similar. He also found the snowflakes were like the most exquisite lace in all kinds of marvellous patterns. To the person who has never seen them under a microscope it seems unbelievable. The snow crystals are formed of the most intricate geometric designs in amazing assortments of equilateral triangles, hexagons, and other formations. Jesus remarked once in stern rebuke, "Having eyes, see ye Jesus drew illustrations from all round him in the simple things that most ignored. When he wanted to illustrate God's care, he looked at the sparrows. When he wanted to il- lustrate the Kingdom of heaven he took a grain of mustard seed. When he wanted to describe a good neighbor he took the familiar scene of a man going from Jerusalem to Jericho. When be told of God's love of beauty be took the common lily of the Held. Always his illustrations were homely, something that people saw every day the prodigal son, the poor woman who lost a coin, the lost sheep. It is said that when Jesus went to Simon's home his wife's mother was sick of a fever and "Jesus noticed her." He had an art of noticing. A man once said of a friend of his in the loveliest of compliments, "One always went from seeing him with rechristened eyes." "Christen" and "Christ" are related. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see all things with the eyes of Jesus Christ? Paul writes to the Corinthians Corinth being a city of notorious evil that certain people had their minds blinded by the god of this world. Lust blinds people. Money blinds people. Power blinds people. Thus Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in bean for they shall see God." Rufus Jones wrote a book entitled New Eyes for Invisibles. How man needs them! This is the insight which comes from sincerity or singlemindedness, as Jesus put it, "If thine eye be single thy whole body shall be full of light." Pilate asked Jesus, "What is the Jesus did not reply because Pilate did not have the single eye which would enable him to see truth. Similarly Jesus was silent before the lecherous Herod and the self-seeking Caiaphas. These men neither desired the truth nor were capable of discerning it. Many a man goes to church and sees nothing in it while others go out overwhelmed with a sense of God's presence. Remember that you can look at a thing for 999 times and never really see it, then you look at it the thousandth time and see it. In one of Thornton Wilder's plays a girl begs her mother, "Please look at me as if you saw me. How many people look at or through others without truly seeing them? Aldous Huxley remarks on that in his book The Art of Seeing. He says that instead of seeing, men stare and thus damage their eyes. Making people see is a very difficult mat- ter. It's an old saying that there are none so blind as those who won't see. It was said of Moses that "he endured as seeing him who is invisible." Paul found here his strength, saying that be "looked to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are unseen are eternal." So the soul has eyes. PRAYER: Grant, O God, that like Job I may come some day to say, "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now miie eye seetk Thee." F.S.M. The leading countries of the advanced world, when gathered for the Washington energy conference, presented a sad and puzzling spectacle. Their governments are growing weaker without their oppositions gaining strength. In the absence of leadership, historic national diseases, born of the uncured afflictions of the violent past, are approaching fever pitch again. There is a crisis of followership. Great Britain presents the classic example. Galloping inflation precipitated a clash between the Conservative government of Prime Minister Edward Heath and the coal miners. Mr. Heath, having zigged and zagged on inflation over the past year, was too weak to compromise gracefully. When the miners stuck fast, Mr. Heath, sensing a chance to score points off the divided Labor party, called a snap election. Given Labor's weakness, the Tories are expected to win. But a Pyrrhic victory at best. For as the electoral campaign starts, there is a surge of the British disease class struggle which has returned after a remission of some 40 years. In France, the illness of President Georges Pompidou has precipitated a struggle for the succession. But the governing parties are split between the claims of a faithful Gaullist, former Premier Jacques Chaban- Oelmas, and a more orthodox conservative, Finance Minister Valery Giscard d'Estaing. The opposition is divided between the Communists and the Socialists led by Francois. Mitterand. The upshot has been a spread of the French malady the conceit (embodied in Louis XIV, the two Napoleons and Gen. de Gaulle) that the world can only be at peace when France is running things. Messrs. Pompidou and Mitterand have dates with the Russians coming up. Foreign Minister Michel Jobert, after cutting a number of bilateral deals with Arab oil producers, arrived in Washington asserting that France is only "restoring, as often as we can, conditions which foster world equilibrium with progress of peoples and for peace." In West Germany, Chancellor Willy Brandt has only just turned back a push against his leadership from within his own Social Democratic party. The Socialist insurgents could afford the challenge because the opposition Christian Democrats are in total disarray. But the in-fighting has been accompanied by a marked German reluctance to co- operate with France in money matters, with Britain in support of its depressed regions, and with the U.S. in paying troops costs. The German affliction the no foreigners are going to take advantage of us feeling is having a return engagement. In Japan, Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka has been buffeted by both inflation and the energy crisis. Though without serious challenge from the Socialist opposition, he has had to appoint his chief rival within the ruling Liberal Democratic party, Takeo Fukuda, to the key post of finance minister. While sorting out internal disputes, the Japanese have found themselves increasingly It's your wife she insists on ticking you off personally. pulled apart by contacts with rival outsiders the U.S. and Russia and China and Formosa and Southeast Asia and the Middle East and Europe. The Japanese disease mordant introspection about Japan's role in the world has made a comeback. When a leading European asked a Japanese professor about what role Tokyo would play in the future, he was told: "No role." In the United States, President Nixon has been crippled by Watergate. But the country has not, as all presidential polls show, gone over to the Democrats. Instead, the country truck drivers and all is blaming its troubles on a conspiracy among people in authority, whether in government, business or abroad. The American rash the know-nothing, levelling instinct known by its carrier as populism is back in vogue. Just why the atmosphere of politics throughout the advanced industrial world has soured is not clear to me. Perhaps the fault lies in the corrosive effects of inflation which is universal. Since the U.S. plays such a central role, it may be that troubles in Washington have had a ripple effect. Perhaps the ending of the cold war confrontation is responsible. Or perhaps all these conditions are at work. In any event, it is not surprising that the international energy conference yielded only modest results. The conditions are not ripe for large achievements by co- operation between this country and its friends and allies in any field. Great expectations are bound to be disappointed, and the best we can hope for is a long, slow uphill battle to achieve understanding in the face of what has now become a system of family squabbles. What are national interests By W. A. Wilson, Montreal Star commentator the na- tional interests must prevail over purely regional or local interests." These words occur near the end of a speech in which the secretary of state, Hugh Faulkner, was recently defending the government's proposals for coping with the oil problem. On the face of it, Mr, Faulk- ner's statement is simply a statement of the seemingly obvious, sometning any right- thinking Canadian could be ex- pected to accept without criti- cism. This particular concept, however, holds the key to much of the difficulty that arises between the central and the regional governments in a federal state such as ours. Mr. Faulkner's choice of phraseology is important "Mnst prevail over." This, of course, suggests a privacy of interest at one level that in some way contradicts or ex- cludes the interest of another level of the community. The words introduce a background implication of conflict, com- petition and ultimate triumph, if not by the most virtuous, then by the most powerful. This is really a misleading concept of the interplay of in- terests that is inevitable in a large and complex country. At least in peacetime, it is difficult to imagine a "national" interest that, in fact, excludes or must triumph over regional interests. In wartime this may occur, but even then it is more likely that one general interest of the country as a whole will have to be given priority over others, guns over butter. There is no difficulty in con- juring up regional interests that will conflict with each other and which will need tempering and modification so that they can meld together. We tend to agree that it is not very likely that a healthy community will develop if one regional interest "prevails over" other regional interests. There seems to me to be two sorts of "national" interest. One. like good postal service, is simply the fulfillment of a need common to the whole country, not significantly greater in one area than another. The other sort of national interest would wem to be made op of regional interests, if necessary, modified so that they will fit together more or less harmoniously. We have expended a great deal of energy in this country hi argu- ments over the melding of conflicting interests. Oil springs to mind now be- cause it is the current problem, but many of the same considerations were invloved in the long and often bitter arguments between men in Ottawa and in Quebec City over social policy. It is only very recently. In the last year or so, that there has been sufficient meeting of minds to permit a new approach in the field of family allowances. In the solution that ultimately was worked out, it would be very hard to say either that a national or a regional interest "prevailed over" the other. In the current problems created by the price of oil, it does not seem any more likely that a healthy community will emerge if there is a successful attempt to make one "interest" prevail over another than in the case of the arguments over social policy between Quebec and Ottawa. The need, on the contrary, seems to be to seek a meeting of minds and a melding of interests, so that in the end it will not be a case of one interest prevailing but of different interests meshing. In this particular case, there is no evidence that the effort to find a meeting of minds has even started. Any country needs skepticism when politicians start to talk about making one set of interests prevail over others. One of the more likely possibilities is that some individual in a position of power has taken up one regional interest, re-labelled it as a national one, and then set about trying to impose it on competing regional interests. There is a considerable part of Canada which believes that Sir John A MacDonald's national policy developed into an exercise of precisely this sort in which the regional interest of Ontario was successfully made to prevail over other regional interests. That is always one possibility. It is as likely to arise when the nation is concerned with oi! as when it is involved in arguments over tariff policy and in- dustrializstjon There is anoUrer possibility to watch for in the world of politics. The dispute may simply be over power, not over public interests at all. Many factors went into the long argument between Quebec and Ottawa over social policy. Among them, on the federal side, were a conservative reluc- tance to change established ways of doing things and a failure to grasp different ideas. But much of it was a struggle between two groups of politicians and their supporting bureaucrats in which every argument of national or regional interest was marshalled far less for reasons of public purpose than in the pursuit of political power. This may have been clearer in Ottawa than Quebec. One of the problems of the quiet revolution in Quebec was that the idealism it included tended to mask some enduring human realities. Pursuit of ideals is the perfect way in which to camouflage pursuit of power. Ever since Rockefeller's day. oil has brought struggles for power. It is naive to suppose that Canada will be exempt. Much of the federal approach to oil policy today is inspired by the same reluctance to share power that marked the social policy dispute with Quebec: strong men have power in their hands and wish to keep it there. Some of the federal attitude stems from Ontario politicians' fear of seeing great power suddenly develop in the hands of men from an economically subordinate region. The hard truth is that, so far, the federal gov- ernment's oil policy has been much less national than aimed at protecting the interest of Ontario. There is a possible irony in- volved in some of this. In the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, the world appears to be watching the replacement of oil company power by national power, leading to the prediction that, by the end of this decade, the great oil companies may simply be contractors in the production of oil, as they already are in Indonesia. One of the "national" interests that Mr. Faulkner was arguing must prevail was the proposed diversion of hundreds of millions of dollars of windfall finds from the public to the oil companies, a scheme that, of course, intrudes ruthlessly