Monday, March 3, 2014

Excuse me sir; Which way back to Canada?

Finally, after months of bombarding the government with letters people concerned about the situation with the Manolis L, correspondence is coming from the Minister, Hon. Gail Shea about her ministry's stance on the situation. There were no surprises there of course, a very standard form letter with very little substance or opinion with the original signed by her honour.  I'm not concerned about a form letter considering I've encouraged so many people to write to her that it might be a tad overwhelming for her or her staff to reply to them all.

However I do admit that I was creeped out somewhat by the part I've bolded below.

Ministerial Correspondence Control Unit / Unité de contrôle de la correspondance ministérielle
Fisheries and Oceans Canada / Pêche et Océans Canada
200 Kent Street, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0E6 / 200, rue Kent, Ottawa (ON) K1A 0E6
min@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Telephone / Téléphone 613-992-3474
Facsimile / Télécopieur 613-990-7292
Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada"


This department has a "Ministerial Correspondence Control Unit?"

Seriously?

I was so taken aback I contacted a Member of Parliament to find out if that was indeed a "thing."

It is indeed, a thing.

Is this new?  Do all ministries have them?  It is indeed and, well, yeah, every letter is made by this unit on behalf of ministers.  Creepy.

Am I the only one weirded out by the fact that it seems there is an entire department dedicated to controlling the correspondence that comes from the ministers to the citizens?

That we only get to read what meets approval by this "unit" and not the true feelings of the minister on the topic.

Are the ministers so incapable of forming valid opinions they can't write or be responsible for their own thoughts? Well it's either yes they can but aren't allowed, or, they are incapable.  Unsatisfactory.

Are they so untrustworthy they need oversight so they stay on message? Again, neither yes or no, satisfies.

I actually feel sorry for the ministers too.  The absolute indignity of it.  To be so incapable that your employer needs "control" of your outgoing correspondence. Or to be capable and unable to personally make people aware of that.  

It's frightfully undemocratic.  It's terribly insulting to the ministers.  It's creepy to those of us who like to have a certain flow of information between us and those we elect.

And it's remarkably un-Canadian.

Basically this "unit" is a group of individuals who sit and write letters all day using bland language designed to bore the constituent to tears halfway through with the hopes they will be so delighted their dear minister responded they won't notice that it came from the "correspondence control unit."

I feel like I've stepped through a crack in the time-space continuum, wound up in some parallel Canada where an alien force controls the democracy.  It's a place that gives the appearance of a smoothly efficient country where in back offices there are rows and rows of obedient and smiling workers tapping out letters on identical Dell computers.  

But peel back the rubber skin of the employees and you find some octopus-like creature slurping and slithering its tongue in the space between the ears of this empty humanoid, droning sentences like "we are monitoring the situation" and "we continue to engage" ad infinitum while their laser beam eyes suck your common sense out through your nostrils as tiny particles of light until you too are walking around with the same serious cognitive dissonance.

Quick, look away!

This department is there to control the message of course.  Because as is painfully obvious in the house of Harper, the message needs to be controlled. Why without such departments you would have Senators and MP's and ministers just saying all kinds of things and getting in all sorts of trouble with scandals happening left, right and centre. (perhaps the correspondence control unit prefer "right right and right"?) 

Oh...wait a minute...scandals and trouble?

This begs the question, How bad would it be if they didn't have these controls?

Ministerial Correspondence Control Unit.  Surprisingly, they didn't even get clever and call it the Fair Correspondence Unit or anything.  

Fake lakes, fake last-century wars, fake letters--can we please start using fake tax dollars for some of this stuff?

I think it's simply wrong for a minister not to have the opportunity to correspond without interference.  To perhaps even make a mistake.  Of course they will err, embarrass themselves on occasion and maybe have to answer to their leader but at least their actions will reflect who they are as people.  

And it's the people that were elected and appointed to their portfolios.  Or are they too one boiling pot of water from Calamari Fettucini like the "unit"?

I kind of feel sorry for these ministers.  Imagine being elected as a MP, then becoming a minister,  in this great country and when history looks at your correspondence in fifty or a hundred years they find it was all written by the unit instead of you.  

Your mark on the country would be devoid of any sense of who you were and anything you did because, well, you didn't do it, the unit did.

What mark would you  have actually made if all you did was sign the papers placed before you by the octopus people?  At least in the olden days the  executive in your office was someone you knew who drafted what you wished to say and you had input and a relationship with the person who sent the letter on your behalf so that a constituent could at least find themselves perhaps just once removed from their minister.

And you could be assured that at least the minister was the person who actually controlled the message.

Our parliament works under tight regulations(well it used to) that allows for participants to be human, to fail and to be righted through the debate with the opposition and that nifty little thing we ourselves have at our disposal to be part of the system called an election.

A Ministry Correspondence Control Unit  sounds alien and I think doomed to failure. Because all of us out here, we outnumber them and we're still very human and like to connect with those we elect.

We like our correspondence to come from people, not units.

Meanwhile I'm looking for that crack in the time-space continuum so I can slip back into Canada where ministers are free to write letters and create their own spin all by themselves.

I think it will appear next year, the date yet to be set but highly anticipated by those who like our octopus on the ice at a hockey game, not composing letters from the ministers of the country.

Then we'll slip back through into real Canada where our elected officials are permitted to be humans, fallible and authentic.

With something an octopus doesn't have.  A backbone.

Carolyn-

PS.--my aliens are not a gestalt race of telepathic beings who live in the 42nd century but a current breed of spineless octopi-like creatures disguised as humans from the present time universe parallel to this one.  They write letters. 

Any resemblance to Oodkind is purely coincidental.  Just sayin.





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