Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 6, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
I THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD Monday, November Disciplines of universe guide to life Easing up unjustified A bill before the present session of the legislature proposes that the man- datory license suspension for im- paired driving be cut from six months to three for first offenders. Minister ol Highways Copithrone, who is responsible for this bill, at- tempts to justify it by saying that, there have been "many complaints" apout the law as it stands, that first offenders are often unaware of. its severity until they actually encoun- ter it, and that B.C.'s law, which seems to work very well, requires only a one month suspension. Surely there needs to be better justification than this for tampering with a law intended to discourage drunken driving, indisputably even by those who champion freedom to di-ink any time, anywhere the greatest single cause of accidents and death on Ihe highways. To say a law should be changed because those who break it "com- plain" about the penalty, is the height of nonsense. Almost equally absurd is the notion that a law must be soltervd because those who flout it are not always aware of. its sever- ity. Citing the B.C. law as a shining example is hardly to be taken more seriously. Differences in highway set- up, population distribution, tourist requirements and years of entirely different laws respecting both high- ways and alcohol, make any compari- son between B.C.'s laws and our own almost completely meaningless. If there must be a change in laws to control the drinking driver, Swe- den would be a far better example than B.C. In Sweden, the penalty for driving while impaired is not a fine, nor the suspension of driving pri- vileges; it is imprisonment. There are no exemptions; anyone convict- ed, high or low. familiar with the law or not, goes to jail. And almost needless to say, since the enactment of this admittedly tough law the in- stance of impaired driving and of death on the highway has drop- ped dramatically. Perhaps this province's first of- fenders don't know much about traf- fic laws, their intentions and their effects. Our minister of highways should. No municipal ombudsman The idea of a municipal ombuds- man has been proposed in two sep- arate places lately. It was mention- ed during the recent convention of the Alberta Municipalities Associa- tion, and also put forward by an opposition member in the current silting of the legislature. The AUMA noted the idea with interest. In the legislature, it was "talked as they say. It will come up again. At first, the idea seems a good one. No one can doubt its complete and shining success at the provin- cial level; since his appointment in 19G7, Provincial Ombudsman George McClellan has not only rendered ex- cellent service to the people of Al- berta, but has clearly demonstrated that his office is very important and very necessary. With such a fine pre- cedent, and the notorious weakness for imitating anything that gains public acceptance, it is hard to vis- ualize any serious opposition to ex- tending the idea. Nonetheless, it must be pointed out that even an excellent idea can be limited in its application. Demon- strating the need for a provincial ombudsman does not automatically establish that the same need exists in every city, town, village and ham- let. There well may be a case for such an office in Edmonton and Calgary. Each of those cities boasts a popula- tion in the half-million range, sev- eral times that of Prince Edward Island and approaching that of New Brunswick. Each is governed by a great array of officials, boards, com- mittees and councils, and a massive assemblage of administrative ma- chinery in which the bewildered cit- izen is easily caught up and mang- led. Elsewhere, however, even in small cities like this one, the bureaucratic labyrinth is not yet loo complex to be negotiated by the average citi- zen. Public officials, elected and ap- pointed, are still generally approach- able, and can be reached by anyone with a problem and a modicum of persistence. Thai being so, it is doubtful (hat ombudsman appointments should be made in the smaller communities. The role demands a very special type of person, who must be provid- ed with a highly trained staff in order to operate effectively. It is a most exacting operation, and by no means a cheap one. If it is to be done badly, or inef- fectively, it is far better that it not be done at all, both for the sake of the taxpayer, who has enough to manage without making appoint- ments that are fashionable rather than necessary, but also for the sake of the office itself. It could only be downgraded if the title of ombuds- man, which should be a most honor- ed one, is conferred unwisely. i The undecided voter WASHINGTON It was election day and Stieglitz, who was undecided on how he was going to vote, woke up at 7 o'clock. His wife asked him what he wanted for breakfast. "I don't Stieglitz said. "Do you want eggs or do you want cer- "I like Stieglitz said, "but I also enjoy cereal." "Well, what about "I hadn't thought of Stieg- litz said. "That really does make the choice hard." "Would you please make up your Stieglitz' wife asked. "Let's see. Eggs, cereal or pancakes? You forgot wattles." "Do you want "I don't think so." Stieglilz' wife brought him a cup of cof- fee and a hard roll. Afler breakfast they got into his car lo go to the voting polls at the local public school. "How arc you going to get SUcg- litz1 wife asked. "It I go down Fojthall Road I'll run into a lot of traffic. But if I go down MacArthur Boulevard I'll hit a lot of lights." "Do you want me to Slieglilz' wife asked. "That's an interesting Sticg- lilz said. "I don't mind driving, yet if you drove I wouldn't have to decide which way T wanted to go lo the public school. Yet I don't sec why you should drivo since it's my car. But then again, you've driven my car before. Of course you haven't driven it when we were going to vote." "Oh, for heaven's Stieglitz' wife screamed. "Will you do Slicplilz started the car. As thoy arrived nt the public school they discovered many other voters had arrived nlrcndy and Stir-glitz had difficult time finding place to park. "What about over his wife sug- gested, pointing out a space next to the playground. "It looks like a good Stieglitz agreed. "But maybe after I park there somebody will park behind me and I'll have difficulty pulling out." "Well, park over there behind the red car." "1 could park over there, but then I might be sorry I didn't park by the play- ground." "What are you going to "I think I'll drive around the block a few times. Then someone will take one of the spots, and I'll have no choice but lo take the other." Stieglitz finally parked and he and his wife walked into the school. The lady be- hind the table gave Sficglitz a slip of paper. "You may go lo any one of the three booths that'are cmply." "Any one of the "Yes, they're all alike. It doesn't make any difference which one you vole in." Stieglitz just .stood there and stared. "Please, the lady said, "you're hold- ing up the line. "I don't know which boolli to fio Stieglitz demanded. "You snid they were all alike." "All right, fio into the second or third one if you want to." "Why nol the first The Indy called over n policeman, ''llnrry, we've got another undecided voter over here." The policeman came over and said, "Okay, Mac, I've had it up to here with you people. You gel your tall in one of those iMolhs nnd pull the lever or I'll split jour "1'ull the asked. "Up or (The Los Angclci Times) Bruce Iliilchinson, special commentator for FP Publications The first blizzard of autumn hit our country lane today a non-white, mulfi colored Pa- cific coast blizzard, warm and jocund, a blizzard si might out of Keats' famous ode and close bosom friend of the maturing sun, a rather un-Canadian bliz- zard to tell Ihe Inith, a pale imitation of Ihe real tiling. But the old gardener thought il would do well enough, lacking better. Brown oak leaves streamed down in the gentle ocean breeze. The wine of the Japa- nese plum trees and the arte- rial blood of the native dog- woods flowed across a lumi- nous sky. It was a blizzard all right, even if most Canadians would hardly recognize it, and this meant extra work, a month's work at least, for any patriotic gardener. Unfortunately all gardeners in our region of Canada, and elsewhere, are not patriotic. In- credible as it may seem, many of them burn the leaves, the perfect fertilizer, the food of vegetable life and, after neces- sary processing, the food of men as well, the nation's nutri- ment. Already the aged conserva- tionist, who did not claim that title but had dealt witn 50 pre- vious blizzards and never wast- ed a single leaf, could see the fires along the lane, and sniff the sweet, smoky perfume, the familiar autumnal incense of- fered to the pagan gods of de- struction. Still, it was a free country, he supposed (though he sometimes wondered) and its citizens had the legal right to deplete its most precious asset, the soil. He was tempted, every year he was tempted, to plead with his neighbors and rebuke their thoughtless crime against t h e planet, but he had done worse things himself and, like all men, could not cnler the court with entirely clean hands. So he held his peace and, grasping his rake and pushing his wheelbarrow, went to work, a hopeful penitent. And as he raked the leaves into the bot- tom layer of lu's new compost pile, it seemed to represent, in pathetic microcosm, the final dilemma, Ihe life and-dealh question facing his species. Per- haps the hope, too. Everywhere men were using up the planet's wealth at a fur- ious rate, with attendant pollu- tion, inventing substitutes for their impoverished materials, counting on science lo save them from their folly. Doubtless they would invent superior syn- thetic leaves one of these days, artificially perfumed, penma- nenlly attached to plastic trees and requiring no work in the autumn blizzards. Yet surely something would be lost even if civilization man- aged, miraculously, to survive the inventors? The crisp touch of nature's inferior leaves would be lost anyhow, the subtle, dry fragrance of a year's growth and, when a man strode through them, that brave, swishing sound like waves on a sea beach, that tidal motion in ail things of mind and matter. Something else, now, under way in the compost pile, would be lost also, something invisible but vital to all living creatures on the earth, the toil of their minute and secret allies, the bacteria. They, and they alone, had reduced last year's pile to rich black treasure which the gardener, an earth-miser at heart, would distribute frugally where hungry plants most need- ed it. Again the bacteria were on the job, as he could tell by thrusting his hand into the pile and feeling its first touch warmth, the innocent, flame- less fire of fermentation and rebirth. That work would go on throughout the winter, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with- SORRX- JT'S RECALLED out overtime pay, union con- tract or unemployment bene- fits. Oddly, Statistics Canada never took account of it but the essential substance of the Gross National Product was here in the compost, silently symbolic of the grand dilemma and the human hope. Civilized men might, yet relearn the lesson that their ignorant ancestors had always known. Thus absurdly meditating, be- tween wheelbarrow loads of affluence more valuable than all the green paper in the Bank of Canada, the gardener heard the children coming up the lane from school. He liked children, with certain private reserva- tions on their modern man- ners. He had employed his own long ago, at pre-inflation wages, to help him in the leaf harvest, and now remembered certain voices heard no more. He could even bribe his grandchildren, now and then, at wildly inflated cost, to jump on the pile and press it doivn for the conveni- ence of the bacteria. But these boys and girls who came laughing and shouting past his field, what did they know of the dilemma and ths hope? Not much, he guessed, when their elders and political governors were pleased to call the permissive society and the illimitable standard of living. Such phoney new disguises for an ancient hedonism, and a sure method of winning democratic voles, annoyed the gardcnsr until, on second thoughts, he laughed at himself. It was use- less to preach and hard enough to practise. Nevertheless, observing the sunny blizzard, the half-naked trees, the earth once more en- riched in timeless cycle, he knew that there was nothing permissive in the whole scheme of things, from the toil of the bacteria to the flaming'orbit of the farthest star. On the con- trary, there was nothing In the) universe but stern disciplines, crimes and punishments, from the physical law of gravity it- self to the mental laws of a strange human creature still more mysterious. The children's shouts faded at Hie end of the lane. The garden- er, too old for jumping on the leaves, slowly trod them down and accepted his tiny morsel of discipline for another au- tumn. And while there would not be many more for him, the dilemma would remain, and perhaps also the hope. 'Outsider' Americans urged to vote tomorrow By Carl Rowan, U.S. syndicated columnist George McGovern says he is on the verge of "the most unexpected political victory in history." "Most unexpected" it would be, for all the polls and other political indicators say that it's all over but the President Nixon will win reelec- tion by a huge margin. This prospect prompts me to do what I have never done be- fore: to address a column to a specific segment of American society that is, to the "out- to those who face hung- er, harassment, discrimination, and who may feel that there is nothing- in Tuesday's exercise for them. So to America's poor, blacks and Puerto Ricans, her Mexi- can-Americans and Indians, I say: I understand how little hope you place in the political pro- cess. I am aware that even BERRY'S 1RLO under the most heartening o f circumstances you arc loss likely to vote than other Amer- icans. I know that the very fac- tors which keep you unaware of and indifferent to the politi- cal and social issues that cir- cumscribe your lives. I sense that ordinarily you live at the brink of despair, thus it is impossible for you to believe that genuine hope lies in anything as full of hokum, crookedness, meanness as a presidential election campaign. So, when the pollsters tell you tliat the decision no longer is in doubt, you are tempted on a frosty election morning just to say, "Ah, what the and roll over and go back to sleep. But let me plead with you to vote, no matter what candidate you prefer. So much is at stake in any presidential election that no American can afford to wal- low in hopeless surrender.