Listening to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta last week for three days waiting for Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk to drop a bill on the table related to the future of education in Morinville was a waste of time on two fronts. Seven hours into the exercise, we were alerted via Twitter that the Minister “hoped” to lay it all out for us during the last week of February. Although seven hours were wasted waiting for what we were all told would happen “shortly”, we were at least able to get some straight-from-the-mouth quotations on the new Education Act and its first reading. The rest of the hours were simply chocked up to the way the game is played. Hunters often sit in the bush for hours on end without spotting anything to put in the pot, and reporting is a lot like that.
No, we are used to wasting valuable time covering politicians for a story that may or may not unfold into something resembling news.
The real waste in time was listening to all the bickering and the disturbing low level of discourse between politicians already beating the war drums en route to another provincial election. The often clichéd jabs at the party in power from opposing parties looking to gain control and the retro repartee of out-of-touch with what’s funny MLAs looking to get re-elected was embarrassing. Often beginning with preamble as stale as four-hour-old coffee, and running full bore towards out and out snark, one is left with the distinct impression this province could do much better than the buffoons currently currying our favour through their shallow, politically-driven danse macabre that unites all parties into one greasy mass with the consistency of bile.
The painful reality is we live in a world of sound bites, headlines, and tweets. Most of us never probe past what is being said to what is really being said or even further into what is truth. Perception is reality today. If one party, simply by withholding or skewing the facts, can convince the public the other guy is going to sacrifice goats in the name of Satan if you give them your vote, you can be certain it will be done in this political environment.
Those of us old enough to have had a parent or grandparent tell us children should be seen and not heard will remember how strongly we disagreed. But in the case of politicians who act like children in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, hurling their witty rejoinders about the price of coffee or what drugs their opponent is on, perhaps there is some value to children being seen and not heard.
But if the past week in the Alberta Legislature is any example of the behaviour of those who would lead Alberta, it is best they neither be seen nor heard at least until they can grow up a little bit.