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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 13, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta I _ THE IEIHBRIDGE HERALD Monday, November 13, 1973 Election a vote on Trudeau not policy By Bruce Hutchison, special commentator for Publications Insuring government vehicles An opposition member of the legis- lature has raised the question of whether the government should call for tenders when buying insurance on its motor vehicles, which it in- sures at present at a cost of in premiums. The inquiry is a proper one, but there are much more fundamental questions concerning government purchases of insurance protection. Someone should ask them, because even in an age when it is virtually automatic to insure life, health, house, car or almost anything else that is subject to loss or damage, there is a real and serious question a government or any agency with very extensive insur- able property holdings should buy insurance at all. Simple arithmetic shows clearly that car owners collectively pay more to insure their cars than they ,can ever get back in claims; if the insurer does not take in more in than he pays out in claims, .'he goes bankrupt. But even though most drivers realize they "lose" money on insurance, they know they must have it; quite apart from any legal requirements, they cannot risk having to meet the ruinous costs of a major accident. The insurer, by collecting from a lot of drivers who don't have accidents, is able to pay for those who do. With three or four thousand vehi- cles involved, there is no way of predicting how many accidents there will be, or how much they will cost. Fortunately, the government doesn't need to. All it lias to do is go back over its records, year by year, add up what it has spent in premiums and what it has received in claims payments, and compare the two totals. If it has spent more than it has taken in and the odds are overwhelming that it has then it has been paying more to insure against accidents than the accidents themselves have cost, which is not only silly, but a waste of the tax- payers' money. The federal government, along with an increasing number of large corporations, acts as its own insurer, and saves a lot of tax dollars by doing so. It may be time for _ the provincial government to consider doing the same. Blowing the whistle Sports may stand close to the sacred so far as vast numbers of people are concerned but that guar- "antees no immunity from the veto prompted by pocketbook protection. That was demonstrated by the citi- .zens of the state of Colorado who voted against the proposition of de- voting public funds to stage the Oly- mpic Winter Games in 1976 in Den- ver. The people of Colorado can hardly be blamed for blowing the whistle on the Denver project. During the plan- ning period alone the estimated cost of the Games rose from the initial million to S35 million. Most big under- takings seem to wind up costing greatly in excess of the estimates, so naturally the taxpayers in Color- -ado envisaged an escalation of till- taking of excessive proportions. There is little doubt that if tax- payers in Montreal, in the province of Quebec, and throughout Canada .had an opportunity to vote on the -staging of the 1976 Summer Olym- .pics in Montreal, Mayor Jean Drap- eau would discover that his optimism about financing the extravaganza reasonably and without resort to pub- lic funds is shared by few. The anx- iety at the prospect of having to bail out Montreal is compounded now by renewed activity on the part of Van- couver promoters to get the Winter Games transferred from Denver to their Garibaldi site. A double drain on public funds is threatened. No diminution in attraction to sports is implied in the objection to public funds being spent in their promotion. There is a growing realization that sporting events today involve a large business component and should not be more blatantly subsidized than other commercial enterprises. Even so-called amateur competitions have become so tainted with commercial- ism that they are widely tagged with the cynical designation of "shama- teurism." It is bad enough for the tax- payer to have to build arenas and stadiums for the entrepreneurs in the sporting world but to expect the public also to back the counter-, productive political rivalries fostered by the Olympic Games is asking too much. If enough of the backlash seen in Colorado can be registered, the Olympics like other competitions will be forced into becoming open- ly commercial where a buck takes precedence over nationalist ballyhoo. Middle-class losing ground Why do so many middle-class people be- come alcoholics? I'll tell you why we be- come alcoholics. Because we feel unloved, that's why. I am a case in point. Half a case, actual- ]y, since the party. Like so many other middle-class persons I am extraordinarily sensitive. When I read in the newspaper about the concern being felt for the poor, the special measures of the government to aid the indigent, I feel left out. At the other end of the income scale, Howard Hughes and rkh men like him en- joy the attention if not the esteem of so- ciety. No income group really expects to be admired these days. The best we can hope for, as a class, is a certain amount of 1 envy. The wealthy are deferred to, because everybody knows that they are smart enough to be getting away with something we wish we had thought of. But the middle-class person is nowhere and losing ground. Where is the royal commission on the status of the bourgeois? When was the last time you heard some- body praised as an honest burgher? They are even taking away our baby bonus a form of class genocide. No wonder we meet in dimly-lit bars, to get stoned out of our middling minds. We of the middle class are held so low that university faculties of commerce find few young people choosing a career that carries with It the stigma of the white- collar worker. Despite our pitiful adop- tion of shirts collared in other hues, we fool no one. Peacock feathers stuck into a Eteamcd pudding. I confirmed this last week when I bought a new pair of shoes. My black lurtleneclf sweater and need of a haircut notwith- standing, the young clerk spotted me at once as old Average Home Owner, the guy whose taxes go up the most but whose place in the community remains a suburb of Oblivion. "I want some I told him, per- haps a shade too defiantly. I wanted to impress him with my potential for loafing. I sprawled a little in the shoe-department seat, as if on welfare, a party of sub- stance. The young clerk noclded, impassive, went to the stockroom and returned with a box of middle-class loafers. Manufactured in Britain the Midlands. I tried on the right loafer, quietly curs- Ing myself for not insisting na the left. The shoe fitted. Perfectly. "How much are I asked. He told me. It was in the medium-price range. I walked around in the loafer, stud- ied it in the mirror. It suited me. Nobody would even notice me wearing it. I hated it. "Show me something more I told the clerk. He looked wary. My face was flushed, I knew, but there was no turning back now, though somewhere in the building an alarm bell was ringing. The clerk brought me an expensive pair of loafers. I tried one on. On me, it smack- ed, audibly, of ostentation. It savaged my heel. I said: "I'll take them." Why? Because I am a member of the lost tribe of the 20th century: the middle class. Caught in the mnlian between past and future. Let's go someplace for a drink my feet are killing mo. (Vancouver Province features) Authentic demonstration By Doug Walker In 19G8 it was said by many reporters, including this one, that a man like Pierre Trudeau could not have won the na- tional election unless the char- acter of Canada had basically changed. We were wrong, but that was normal and did little harm, since no one paid anv attention. The real harm was done by Mr. Trudeau when ho made the same error and en- sured his own tragedy in 1972. Of course, the nation had changed, and is still changing, but not nearly so fast as he, and we, supposed. Building on an exaggerated assumption, striding far ahead of the Ca- nadian common denominator, living in the stratosphere, talk- ing as a philosopher rather than a politician inspiring half the people and infuriating the other half, Mr. Trudeau electrified the nation but failed to master it. Tragedy is not too strong a word for such a failure when, by the measurement of intellect imagination and even charm, as he turned it on' and off at will, Mr. Trudeau, I venture to think, is unique among our modern prime ministers. In the power of his mind he lacked nothing. But at the final crunch he lacked the one es- sential power, the mysterious X factor, the non-intellectual, intuitive sense of the mass mind, the visceral hunch, call it what you please. That lack, and only that, brought him to his current, desperate pass as suitor at the euphoric court of David Lewis. For a proud and brilliant man the humiliation must be bitter indeed behind the television smile. Here we see, at a prelimin- ary stage, an almost exact par- allel to the tragedy of Arthur Meighen, another man of su- perb intellect. By every visible measurement he should have destroyed his lifelong rival, Mackenzie King, but King de- stroyed him. That race between a Conservative hare and a Lib- eral tortoise is being repeated now, though the party labels are reversed, and we shall see, not long hence, whether Mr. Stanfield can destroy Mr. Tru- deau. How, one may well ask, could the conquering Titan of 1966 have reached, in only four years, the nadir of 1872? The explanation can be found, per- haps, in a casual remnrk by King, some three decades ago, tn the late Grant Dexter. "I see a thing King said, "or I don't see it at all." Then, pointing across the Ottawa River to a distant church steeple, he added: "If I want to get to that church, and have no boat, I may have to go by a long, roundabout route, but I'll get there." He meant, as I understood his meaning, that in moment- ous decisions he relied absol- utely on his instinct and first hunch. Or, if the comparison "Maybe now the government will know what it feels like to be in a minority." Political system lacks stability By Anlliony Westell, Toronto Slar commentator OTTAWA The only clear message which emerges from the mess of the election returns is this: The political system is not working very well. It is not giving us either of the things we should reason- ably expect in a democracy: (A) Fair representation o! the political opinion across Can- ada and or (B) Stable government. It used to be argued in de- fence of parliamentary elections that while they might not be fair, they were at least effec- tive. They tended to squeeze out the dissenting voices or minori- ties and elect the major par- ties. How much better, wo used to say, to have a stable, two-party system than one of those messy European arrange m e n t s in which all sorts ol minority groups could win representa- tion. After all, they were al- ways having political crises; it was almost a musical comedy to see their governments con- stantly changing. How could jou expect to run a country on that basis? So who's laughing now? We have had seven elections in 15 years and there will surely be another within 12 months. On the average, one general elec- tion every two years. And we certainly don't have fair representation. On the basis of the popular vote, the Liber- als should have 102 MPs instead of 109. The Conservatives 93, not 108, the New Democrats, 47, rot 31, Social Credit, 20 instead of 14 and others three instead of two. Party representation should also be spread more evenly across the country. Thus the Tories got 18 per cent of the vote in Quebec which should en- title them to 13 seats instead of a miserable two. The Liberals won 27 per cent of the vote on the Prairies, which should have been worth 12 seats instead of three. The NDP won eight per cent of the vote in the Atlantic region, worth two scats instead of none. Letter Praises teenagers The planning committee for this year's CGIT leaders' conference in Red Deer ask- ed Klspclh nnd Bcv V'icbc to put on somo kind of demonstration skit for the edifica- tion of tho other lenders. "Bcv End I have decided what to do in our Elspeth told us nt dinner ono day. "We'ro going to demonstrate a typi- cal CGIT telephone she said. "Can they really afford to give you nn hour or twn for that sort of I asked incredulously. I am an adidt and pride my- self in being ultra conserva- tive. I resist change like Hie plague and have buill up a sclf- justified barrier against most teenagers. I resent their unkept clothes, loud music, altitudes and especially their long and oflimes unkempt hair. But an incident happened in my life recently to restore my faith in the worthintss of young people. In my hurry lo leave the cily the other night I piled TV, suit cases and purse alongside my car which was parked on a busy residential street. It was Retting quite dark and aflcr unlocking my car I neglected to pick up my purse containing nil the cash i receipts from my business for that day. My next stop was on the outskirts of the city. I checked in at B business estab- lishment nnd only then ciimc to the horrible realization that I had left rny purse on the curb. I quickly retraced my steps but hunted in vain. I was sick, shak- ing and dcsparate. Just then the phone rang and the police said that two teen-age boys had turned in my purse and I could pick up the some by signing for it at their office. I located the teenage boys later nt a bowling alley. They had turned my purse into the police without so much as dis- turbing a single paper. These were the boys I had formerly categorized as "those long haired tecn-sgcrs." Thanks Randy and Brian for helping me lo analyse myself and get my thinking straight. I'm .sure that most young people aro just ns mornlly good nnd honest today as they were when I was young. Perhaps moro so. It took two honest teenage boy' in flnral Jonns nnd long hair lo teach me n valuable lesson. Thnnk.-i again boys, TIIELMA Raymond There would be an argument for putting up with this unfair- ness if the present system showed prospects of retuTning lo the so-called normal and re- suming production of majority governments, but that is most unlikely. The NDP is deeply entrench- ed in the political life of the country and while it is not in- creasing its popular support, it obviously is not going away. Many observers and pollsters expected Social Credit to de- cline in Quebec in this election, but instead it improved its posi- tion. The fact seems lo be that this federation is too big and too diverse to express itself politi- cally through only two major parties which have to impose firm discipline if they are to survive in Parliament. The re- gional attitudes and minority points of view, which cannot find expression through the major parties in the Commons, seek other vehicles. While these minor parties exist, as they show every sign o[ continuing to do, minority government will be the rule rather than the exception in Ottawa. And so we have a system which is neither fair nor effec- tive. The regional nature of nation- al politics in Canada is clearly evident in an analysis of the vote. In the four provinces of the Atlantic region, the Literals won 39 per cent of Ihc vote, Conservatives 49 per cent, the NDP eight per cent. In Ontario, the Liberals and Conservatives got alxmt 38 per cent each, and the NDP 21 per cent. In Queljcc, the Liberals got 49 per cent, the Conservatives in per cent, Social Credit 24 per cent and the NDP seven per cent. In the three Prnirie prov- inces, Hie Liberals got 27 per cent, the Tories 47 per cent, the NDP, 23 per cent. In British Columbia, the Lib- erals got 29 per cent, Ihc Tories S3 per cent, the NDP 35 per cent. The totals do not round out to 100 per cent hccnusG there wero fringe candidates in all provinces who collected a small shnro of the total vote. If there wore any genuinely national issues in Ihc election, (hey appear lo havo hncl a dif- ferent Impact la lie different regions of Canada. It is danger- ously misleading, therefore, to talk about the English Cana- dian vote as if it were mono- lithic. For example, French Cana- dians who see the Increase in Conservative vote as proof that English Canada has rejected a French Canadian prime min- ister, and his policy of estab- lishing the French Fact in Ot- tawa, should look a little more closely at the vote. In terms of popular support, the Tories were only a fraction ahead of the Liberals in Ontario, and they trailed In Metro Toronto. In British Columbia and in the cily of Vancouver, Ihe Tories ran second to the New Demo- crats. Obviously, there was some English Canadian backlash in some areas, but it was by no means decisive in the election. There is, of course, another obvious defect in the present political system. Our politics are increasingly built around national leaders: Most people talked during the recent cam- paign of voting for Stanfield or Trudeau, ralher than for the parties or the local candidates in the riding. And yet our lead- ers are actually chosen by party conventions, instead of by the electorate at large, and the pub- lic never gets a chance lo vote for the man who symbolizes politics and democracy for them. Anybody who invented a sys- tem of democracy which was (.1) unrepresentative; (b) inef- fective; (c) unable to express regional interests and (d) pre- vented people from voting for Iheir leaders, would be regard- ed as lyialic. Yet that is Iho system we suffer loday. How many elec- lions, crises, deadlocks and frustrations do we have to have before we decide to sil down and work out a better arrange- ment? doesn't seem too absurd, he obeyed what Socrates called his inner daemon. Having glimpsed the church steeple, the political goal, he might wander for months or years, apparently without aim, but he always knew where he was going, or wanted to go, even if the goal was wrong, and even if he didn't always reach it. Meanwhile his hired hands could Invent the public reasons, and document them in hideous- ly boring speeches, to justify the secret judgments that King had made all at once, in a flash. Mr. Trudeau, as we can see now is restrospect worked, as Meighen did, by the opposite method, the method of sheer in- tellect and symmetrical logic. The corps of thinkers in tha back room, the task forces, studies in depth, blueprints and flow charts, the whole groan- ing apparatus of government and the brief myth of partici- patory democracy produced some excellent results, which history will recognize. But in terms of practical politics It failed because it was too in- tellectual, too logical, too mech- anical, too philosophical and just too perfect to fit the im- perfect Canadian nature. On the other hand, when Mr. Trudeau worked by hunch only, by sudden impulse and mid- night courage, in the Quebec crisis of 1970, he succeeded magnificiently and the nation knew it. Why that lesson was forgotten in the October elec- tion we may never know. To be sure, Ihe average Can- adian at the polling booth didn't see the Trudeau government in such terms, was never told what il really intended to do with his affairs, and hardly un- derstood the prime minister at all in Ihe total fiasco of the tel- evised, hot-lined, jet-propelled campaign. The average English- speaking voter, it not the voter of Quebec, saw Mr. Trudeau in much simpler terms, often in unfair terms, always In confus- ed terms, and finally decided that he didn't like what he saw. This, clearly, was Ihe mean- of an election which, by Mr. Trudeau's crowning strategic error, was allowed to become a plebiscite not on his policy but on him. Or, to put it bluntly Mr. Trudeau rescued Mr. Stan- field from defeat, outside Que- bec, when all the experts and Iheir computers were sure of precisely Ihe opposite outcome. Irony had hatched its master- piece in the back room. However things turn out In the wrenching days immediate- ly ahead, and whatever addi- tional strains Confederation must endure in a grimy parti- san poker game, we know now, or ought to know, that the na- tional character as a whole is not what it appeared to be four years ago. Scratch the average Canadi- an, in both the nation's two cul- tures, and you do not find I philosopher, an idealist, a mys- tic, a revolutionist or even i very passionate reformer. You find a square, a decent, intelli- gent man of goodwill, as good as they come anywhere, but square. Tragically for Mr. Tru- deau and his experts, they fail- ed to scratch deeply enough and were deceived by a- super- ficial flush. They relied on logic instead of bunch, on mind in- stead of heart, on computers in- stead of human antennae, on blueprints instead of people. That is always a mistake in public as in privcte life. For in both the great decisions are made, with later rationaliza- tion, by a process that can nev- er he foreseen, blueprinted or explained. The emperor who lores his clothes can survive naked, if necessary. Losinp his daemon, he loses everything. 'Crazy Capers' We would prefer you lo leave by Ihe bnclc door, if you don't mind, The Lethkidge Herald 504 7lh St. S., Lethbridgc, AlberlH LETHBRIDGE HERALD TO. LTD., Proprietors and Publisher! Published 1905 1954, by Hon. W. A. BUCHANAN CUIl M9II Registration No. 0012 Mtmbtr of ThB Canadian Prtsi and lh> Canadian Dolly NlwipiMT Publishers' Association And tha Audit OureAU ol Circulation! CLEO W. MOWERS. Editor ana Punllshtr THOMAS H. ADAMS, Mnnlqer DON PILLING WILLIAM HAY Managing Editor Assochlc Edilar ROY F MILES K. WALKER Advertising Manager Editorial Editor THS HERAID SERVIi THI ;