Opinion

Column

Time to cut out-of-control bureaucracy

By Jim Merriam, Toronto Sun

Ontario's Legislature on March 29, 2011. (QMI Agency/MICHAEL PEAKE)

Ontario's Legislature on March 29, 2011. (QMI Agency/MICHAEL PEAKE)

Most folks interact with government through bureaucrats rather than politicians.

It’s these bureaucrats who set the rules and regulations and enforce dotting every i and crossing every t.

In an ideal world, bureaucrats would be accountable to us through our elected politicians but as often as not, it works the other way around.

Let’s look at a couple of totally unrelated examples of blind bureaucracy at work in our province.

First turkey hunting.

After being reintroduced several years ago, wild turkeys are everywhere. In our area just look out the window. If there’s no rafter, or flock, in view wait a minute.

So for farmers and experienced hunters, it would seem natural to harvest Thanksgiving dinner from the back 40 with one shot.

Not in Ontario.

Before you can hunt turkeys you must complete the Ontario Wild Turkey Hunter Education Course and pass the exam, in addition to adhering to all other hunting regulations.

No matter how experienced you might be with a firearm, no matter how many domestic turkeys you might have butchered for your neighbours, you have to take a government-sanctioned course before you hunt.

In rural Ontario the course is just another opportunity to part with hard-earned cash.

A different example involves the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

This arm of government is behind the plan to yank slots from racetracks, thus striking a mortal blow to horse racing.

They’re also working on a casino for Toronto as they try to get you to part with more cash to help Ontario out of the Dalton Gang’s black financial hole.

But what about smaller communities, the ones that would barely survive without the service clubs, churches and volunteer organizations that fill all the gaps left by inadequate government services?

A new organization with such a lofty goal might decide to raise funds for the local pool by raffling off a turkey (legally hunted of course). To do so, it faces enough paperwork to choke a mule at harvest time.

First you must provide copies of letters patent, constitution and bylaws, current budget, past financial statement, lists of directors, latest report to public guardian and trustee, a bunch of stuff if you’re applying as a registered charity, detailed descriptions of the organization’s activities and a copy of the annual report.

Next step is filling out a questionnaire about your organization that includes everything from how long it’s been around to a list of the specific services provided and associated costs.

Then the group has to open a lottery trust account. A plain old bank account simply won’t do. After all that, the group can begin filling in the actual application and repeating a lot of the information previously provided.

If the organization can stomach all that paperwork and goes ahead with a lottery for that turkey, then the final act is to file a detailed report after the fact.

None of this includes the 11-page list of stifling rules (Lottery and Gaming calls them “terms and conditions”) that must be followed. These include possible audits of the lottery.

In summary, it’s a dog’s breakfast of bureaucratic gobbledygook to simply sell a few tickets to raise funds for the community.

Any political party that undertook to clean up such bureaucracy would get the votes of countless frustrated citizens.

jmerriam@bmts.com


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