When I was a younger man I wanted to make the world a better place.
I still do.
My first professional foray into that endeavor was through social work, and then politics.
Recently, I uncovered notes I had written over a two-day period, while working in an Ontario MPP’s office – in an attempt to decompress.
I was a Senior Constituency Assistant back then -in other words a troubleshooter, of sorts, for our constituents. It was exciting, rewarding and different everyday; it was heady work, but a great job.
These tales and insights won’t be for everyone, but if you’ve ever wondered what the inside of the body-politic is like, or a constituency office, you may find these notes interesting.
It’s a game. A factionalized struggle between powers and personalities. The goal? To garner as much as they can, for themselves and their own. Parties vs. parties, unions vs. stakeholders, … all vying for attention, for the public’s eyes and purse. No one ever claims they are sated, or content, for that would disqualify you from a further future share.
Inter-party politics and non-partisanship, those great co-operative efforts, falter in the attainment of acclaim, and one-up-man-ship. It’s symptomatic of the system.
Everyone is polarized and partisan, objectivity is lost.
There are powers at work that seek to bend us to their will: government, the press, etc., all trying to sway us into agreement or compliance. Consent is what is sought, … but not always. And sometimes people consent to stupid things.
Influence is clout; it is a measure; a standard, a frame-work against which we knit.
However, never forget that the government that was elected is also comprised of people like you, or your sister-in-law, or your brother. Good-hearted and bright people.
Anyways, the budget dropped yesterday at 4pm . Baird kicked the shit out of us. The Liberal Caucus did a good job getting the goods into our hands immediately after the lock-down.
Brutal day. Some organized rabble-rousers, and some really irate walk-ins. An anarchistic recipient of ODSP, with a heart for the poor, and a corporate hate-on, came in and railed. He took advantage of our professional demure to brow-beat. Loud, abrasive and antagonistic. I talked him down. We had more in common than either of us thought.
Probably 70+ public inquiries, expressions of concern, valid grievances, some diatribes -not counting faxes, e-mails or walk-ins.
A lot of work for two full-timers and one part-timer. Our ‘policy wonk’ was a no-show! We could have used his skills.
Also, no advance notice on Citizenship Court. Speech to write and give in two days.
Interpersonal skills were maxed out today and huge hits and demands on our knowledge base. From pit-bulls to premiums. I have plenty of holes in that base. The amount of knowledge that one must attempt to master in doing constituency work, and campaigning -which is what a Budget is about- is vast.
I am jealous of M.C because the claim is, “he has an answer for everything.”
My day and J’s seemed to entail a lot of commiseration. People have a valid, the most valid, reasons to complain. The McGuinty Liberal Plan for Ontario hurts right now. It hurts the constituents -our friends, enemies, family, and the administrators -which is us.
You do well in this job if you can continue to care, empathy makes you vulnerable. But, empathy is the most authentic way to relate.
This is what my job is about, and what our government should be, and is. It’s a slow triumph. I mean do the wealthy, the powerful need representation to get their points across? No, they do not. They are already doing quite well at that.
If you can be the voice of just one body, you should be the voice of the voiceless, or less dramatically, the under-represented.
End of Part One. Please feel free to comment.