Right in the centre - Gotta love the facts when you can find them


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

Facts should be the basis of most decisions, at least one would think so. It should especially be true with politics and public policy. Recently the provincial government decided to look for proposals for the air ambulance service. Seems like a reasonable idea to see if a private company or companies can get the job done. Apparently, there are 100s of flights per year.

Some of the air ambulance doctors said they will quit if the service goes private. That concern definitely bears looking at. After all, gathering facts from those who do the job would seem the prudent thing to do. I am sure the province will check out their concerns. It is also coming out that the government-owned planes aren’t the only ones being used already. There aren’t enough government planes and government pilots to handle all the flights, it turns out. It has also been stated that the government planes are getting old and more difficult to maintain and so are making a smaller percentage of the flights each year. The STARS air ambulance is privately owned as well.

I have no idea how much more there is to dig out on this issue and I don’t have the time and resources to dig it out. I do know that there is a real need in all these situations to get to the bottom of the matter and make an informed decision. The question isn’t whether privately owned or publicly owned is right or wrong, it is how to get the best service for public safety.

Here’s another “let’s get the facts” scenario. To vote in a municipal, provincial or federal election, one is required to be a Canadian citizen. That makes sense. There is a problem though. Nobody checks to see if a voter is a citizen. Who carries their citizenship papers with them to go and vote? For that matter, who has citizenship papers? A person can be sworn in and they don’t have to show they are citizens and besides, if you born here, you don’t have papers anyway. Now that the matter has been raised, it may become a requirement to prove you are a Canadian citizen. For newcomers who have recently become citizens, they will have a certificate, but I certainly don’t have one. The vast majority of people don’t have a certificate. Maybe I am missing something here, but it could be a major problem.

Electors lists have been so neglected in recent years they are a bit of a joke. I am not sure when was the last time voters lists were updated with a proper enumeration process. It’s been a while around here anyway. Municipal officials do the best they can with tax rolls and water bills and such, but it isn’t an enumeration. I don’t think there has been a proper enumeration in a long time. It’s costly, time-consuming and it’s hard to get people to do the job.

Like I said at the outset, you gotta love facts when you can get them. Otherwise, decisions are just guesswork.

Disclaimer: The writer serves as a volunteer president of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association. The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being  the view of the MCNA board or Banner & Press staff.