Meet the Mayor
September 26, 2013
UBCM 2013 is history and we are all back on the job. Did we come back better equipped to do the job for which you elected us? I’ll try to answer that question. In the meantime, you can be certain of one thing: attending UBCM was definitely not a holiday; up at 5:50, breakfast at seven; sessions start at 7:30 and continue until late afternoon when exhaustion has set in. It was good to be there but better to be home.
Probably the more productive work happened when we sat down in separate meetings with five of the government Ministers who hold, if not our lives, at least some details of our futures in their hands. They have the power to say yes or no to our petitions – and usually they choose the negative. Not because they are stingy or niggardly do they use the no so frequently. It is just part of the process.
Perhaps you are curious about the process. Meeting a Minister is nothing like meeting the Mayor. My door is open to Chetwynd. To get an audience with a Minister requires prior contact with his staff to name the people attending and to list the one or two topics to be discussed. When the big day arrives (at UBCM) we approach the door and press a button on the intercom to announce our presence. An aide will admit us to the waiting room.
At precisely the right time the previous delegation exits and we are admitted to the Presence. A few moments of introductions and light chatter leads to the business. The Minister opens the discussion usually by asking the Mayor to speak to the point of the visit. He or she may ask for clarification from one or more of the staff in attendance, who are all familiar with the topic and the processes, and the Mayor may ask the CAO or members of Council in attendance for further details. At precisely the right moment the door will open as if by magic and the time keeper will usher us out to make room for the next delegation.
Intertwined in all this is the background politics of big government in a big, multi-ethnic, multi-jurisdictional, multi special-interest province where to say yes to one request might compromise the range of responses to requests from other municipalities. Ever wonder why government gears grind so slowly (though they grind exceeding small)? That’s why.
But we have seen the face of the Minister and she has seen ours and heard our petition. Now it is up to the staff to work on the details and let the Minister know if we are just blowing in the wind or if we have a request that might work.
And with us, supporting us, and remaining for us in the faces of the Ministers is our hard-working, smiling MLA, Mike Bernier.
Are we better equipped for the job with sharper tools because of UBCM? Definitely yes.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor