Keep your powder dry

Expectations for elected people are often unrealistic. They have a lot on their plates and most of their work is not done in public. The part that involves showing up at community events is insignificant in the big picture. Just because you don’t see your MLA very often, it doesn’t mean he/she isn’t working on your behalf. Conversely, just because you do see your MLA at a rodeo or charity event, it doesn’t necessarily mean he/she is doing a good job.

Let’s go even further. Just because a new MLA appears uninformed on certain subjects doesn’t mean he/she doesn’t care or isn’t interested. Municipal leaders have been blasting the Lesser Slave Lake MLA lately for perceived inaction or lack of presence. It does seem a bit on the harsh side. The guy is a political rookie, finding his feet. He is learning what the job entails. Give him a year or so. On the other hand, keep your powder dry, because after a year if he isn’t returning phone calls to reeves and mayors and such, he deserves a few blasts.

But there are hot issues that can’t wait. One is the provincial foot-dragging on promised dialysis service at the High Prairie Hospital. High Prairie town councillor Michael Long let Pat Rehn have it with both barrels on the issue at an Aug. 27 council meeting (see more about this on Page 9).

Rehn and his colleagues in the new provincial government are in a sticky position. All indications are that the Kenney government’s first budget is going to be one of austerity; i.e. spending will be cut. So making promises on health care, flood relief, highway upgrades and such is tough to do when the likely scenario is going to be reductions on those and all sorts of other things.

That budget is expected next month, and it is expected to hurt. So Mr. Rehn is doing the right thing if he isn’t running around making lavish promises he can’t deliver on.

On the other hand, he needs to listen and get to know the issues in his constituency well. He needs to answer phone calls, make visits, get to know the people and the problems and do what he can to help. It’s not anything like a normal lifestyle, but that’s what you get when you seek and then achieve public office. You may have your own and your party’s agenda locked down; you may be tight as anything with a particular group of supporters; but you are now representing everybody and you’d best be paying attention and doing your homework.

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