Editorial – Restarting things set aside

Jeff Burgar

We had a few ideas to pursue when 2020 opened a year ago.

As example, we mused maybe our local politicians would think twice on their junkets. They don’t call them junkets, of course. Instead, it’s seminars, conventions, meet and greets, networking and whatever other name they hope will look good to taxpayers and voters. Before you say we are being miserly, let’s mention a point or two.

First, we think it entirely appropriate elected officials take every opportunity to learn something. Gosh knows, some of them really need it. It’s actually often said in those lofty circles that sadly, the people who need teaching the most, never take it. And of course, it’s the same people who think they need such education the least.

It is also entirely appropriate volunteers of boards like libraries and museums funded by local governments also take every opportunity for learning and expanding horizons, at taxpayer cost.

And, like elected counterparts, they should be paid for meetings too.

All too often, a councillor or some such will prattle about keeping an eye on the spending. Then be the first to vote themselves a raise, a bigger expense account or a “important networking” trip to Madagoosecow. Pinching pennies when it comes to improving the capacity of volunteers is shameful.

We don’t mind trips. We simply don’t like paying for glorified adventures and holidays to places like Victoria, Halifax, Quebec City or in fact, any place outside of Alberta. Peace River, Valleyview, and Falher, to name only a few, are fine and dandy as far as we are concerned. COVID lockdowns have a silver lining. Suddenly, there are no more such junkets even to Banff or Jasper. Tsk!

It’s good to know taxpayers will be saving a few dollars, each and every one of us. Right?

Moving along, a year ago we considered the upcoming year of 2020. We had no clue Covid was already working its way around the planet. So, we had hopes Alberta would, finally, see a recovery from low oil prices. Little did anybody know, in a few months, around the world, there would be stock market collapses, oil prices in negative territoty, and countless businesses and industries forced to lock their doors.

Make no mistake. 2020 was a catastrophic 2020 for so many. We have lost our jobs. We have lost friends and family. We have lost events, celebrations, reunions and so much more. Even with vaccines being rolled out around the world, it isn’t over yet. As was demonstrated so vividly in 2020, the future really can be unpredictable.

Many say Covid will accelerate trends already happening, but happening so slow we did not really appreciate their significance. Online shopping. Working from home. Changes happening in retail. Gatherings and travel. Immigration and demographic trends. The future of Alberta’s energy industry. It might indeed take another year, or more, to see where these roads all lead.

2020 was a year of doors closing. We have hopes 2021 will be a year of moving forward, recovery, and new doors opening for many of us.

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