If only some people would listen

This week's reporter column looks at political rhetoric missing out on the real issue.

Lately, it seems like people are only talking, yelling, screaming or simply blasting their opinions out into the public with no regard for the consequences.

Oh, and when they do that, they can’t take the time to listen to any other opinions, views, options or alternatives lest they be seen as weak or learn something that could lead to a compromise. Worse yet, they could be wrong completely.

A pair of recent examples have exemplified and amplified the rhetoric surrounding the contentiousness of these issues those being pipelines and Alberta’s minimum wage policy.

As a reporter, I’m not one to take sides, just simply present the facts as it is known along with concerns and comments, no matter how inflammatory or biased they may be, that each side wishes to put forth.

So, in the interest of starting things off easy, here goes with the minimum wage example.

Last week, the provincial government approved new regulations within the Employment Standards Act that formalized the process that unless they are later revised or removed by a subsequent government will see Albertans earning a minimum of $15 per hour.

While the NDP has been quick on the draw since they were elected about how it’s meant to benefit workers, especially those in the lowest paying industries, they’ve been even more insistent recently that they are going to move forward with their promises and plans come boom or bust.

Flip over the proverbial coin, and you see the Wildrose and rest of the opposition clamoring over each other to grab the public’s ear in order to explain why the current economy, job market and attitude of businesses make the decision so terrible.

Unfortunately, all they’ve done is spout off partisan statistical information or issued rhetoric instead of attempting to come up with a solution to the widening gap between those that have and those that will likely never have in this province.

What neither side has taken into account though is the real root of the problem the significantly increased cost of living in Alberta. Both sides are too busy focusing on their agendas and trying to one-up the other in the public relations game to wonder why a better wage is necessary or what could be done to keep costs down. Rents and property taxes continue to rise, utility rates are as stable as an active volcano and if you’ve ever had to pay out of pocket for medicine, dental or eye care then you know the pain many Albertans face all the time.

The big problem is, they can hear it all, but they just don’t seem to listen.

The second example involves something that would certainly take the pressure off Alberta and its politicians and that is pipelines.

The only difference between this and the first example is that only one side is willing to listen, while the rest try to level the ‘evil oil empire’ through protest, civil disobedience, alleged criminal acts and outright lies.

Sure, the oil lobby hasn’t made it easy either what with claims about how much more safe pipelines are than rail, the lack of transparency on leaks and spills, inadequate responses and a sense from many Canadians that they will just barrel through with whatever they want anyway. But, at least they have been willing to be at the table listening to concerns, even looking at changing plans to better suit various provinces’ regulations.

Makes me wish I had hearing aids and could simply ‘tune it all out’, wishing they could hear just how silly each other sound.

But that is…just an observation.


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