Good reasons to resist amalgamation

Mesachie Lake – It would seem that Conservatives are simply unable to learn from experience. Despite the disasters that amalgamation has visited on larger population areas like Toronto, or on the local health and education systems, the ubiquitous Joe Sawchuk insists it would be a benefit to the Capital Regional District and presumably in the Cowichan as well. He further alleges that the reason so many other interested parties oppose it is to protect their own jobs.

Mr. Sawchuk does not seem to realize how insulting that is, or perhaps does not care. It probably will shock him to learn that it is possible to disagree with him in good faith without becoming an evildoer. Nonetheless, many of us have gone through the amalgamation process in one form or another only to discover that the supposed savings in bureaucratic costs are never realized. The managers, in fact, expect to be paid more because their empires have become larger. Further, the larger organization needs more levels of management at even higher wages, which are usually funded by reducing the number of workers actually providing the services our tax dollars pay for.

Don’t believe me? Just ask a hospital worker. They are 20-plus years into their amalgamation process. Ask someone who started working there before 1990 if amalgamation has been a good thing. Ask a teacher how it has worked in the classroom. The truth is that any supposed savings have been absorbed by the cost of constant reorganization.

Now I would like to address the most important cost of all, which is the lack of accountability. The larger the constituency the less important a single voter becomes, and the less possible the election of an independent candidate. To a dedicated Conservative like Mr. Sawchuk this is obviously not a factor, but to the vast number of mere voters this loss of influence strikes at the power of the individual. What does the reader consider more important, imagined administrative savings or actual personal influence? Finally, I would like to protest the assumption that people oppose amalgamation for personal gain. How unworthy to suggest that those who disagree with the writer do so only because of their own interests! Forgive me for stating the obvious, but most public servants are dedicated to public service. They rose to elected office after years of volunteer work and endless unpaid hours on the board of their union, chamber of commerce or other community groups. If money was their driving factor they would never have chosen politics as a career. Attacking them is easy, and usually a sign that the attacker has never actually participated in the process.

Mr. Sawchuk likes to write letters to the editor, and evidently has lots of time to do so. It would be crass and unjustified to assume he is paid to do so, rather than simply doing it as a form of political self-expression. Hopefully he can understand when his blood pressure spikes at the suggestion that this is exactly what he does to others when he impugns their motives and integrity. These people simply believe, for the reasons I have suggested above and others, that amalgamation would not save money and would reduce their own accountability to a more remote electorate.

So, when we send in our letters in support of bad ideas or good can we please show a little more respect? We can all do abuse, but this makes achieving a compromise we can all live with far less likely, and that is how democracy works.

David Lowther

Mesachie Lake