The mole­hill that would be a moun­tain

The Western Star - - EDITORIAL - Rus­sell Wanger­sky East­ern Pas­sages Rus­sell Wanger­sky’s col­umn ap­pears in 35 SaltWire news­pa­pers and web­sites in At­lantic Canada. He can be reached at rwanger@thetele­gram.com — Twit­ter: @wanger­sky.

I just wish peo­ple would be al­lowed to say what they think.

In the ul­ti­mate of tem­pested teapots, the new Gov­er­nor Gen­eral, Julie Payette, found her­self in hot wa­ter when she gave a speech about the value of science to that reg­u­lar hot­bed of in­ter­stel­lar con­tro­versy, the Cana­dian Science Pol­icy Con­ven­tion.

Her re­marks in­cluded, “Can you be­lieve that still to­day in learned so­ci­ety, in houses of gov­ern­ment, un­for­tu­nately, we’re still de­bat­ing and still ques­tion­ing whether hu­mans have a role in the Earth warm­ing up or whether even the Earth is warm­ing up, pe­riod?” and “And we are still de­bat­ing and still ques­tion­ing whether life was a di­vine in­ter­ven­tion or whether it was com­ing out of a nat­u­ral process let alone, oh my good­ness, a ran­dom process?”

Be­cause there wasn’t any­thing else to do that day, there was much swooning and fan- ning of faces.

Oh my good­ness. The Queen’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive, a com­pletely tit­u­lar ap­point­ment, ac­tu­ally has an opin­ion. You’d think she’d split apart and an alien had hopped out from her skin, for all the fuss.

There was even this lec­tur­ing re­sponse from Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall: “Your Ex­cel­lency, I am con­cerned re­cent com­ments you have made did not meet the stan­dard of con­duct that comes with your po­si­tion. Specif­i­cally, I refer to your sug­ges­tion that it is sim­ply ris­i­ble some Cana­di­ans would sub­scribe to a view of cre­ation that is rooted in the di­vine.

“Many in Saskatchewan ob­ject to your com­ment. Your Ex­cel­lency, I want to as­sure you that you will be wel­comed on your first and sub­se­quent vis­its to Saskatchewan. But when you come to our prov­ince, I would en­cour­age you to avoid den­i­grat­ing or mock­ing the many ad­her­ents of faiths that be­lieve in a Cre­ator.”

He fin­ished up with, “I would ask you, as our Gov­er­nor Gen­eral, to sup­port us as we so en­deav­our by re­spect­ing all of our peo­ples, in­clud­ing peo­ple of faith.”

(This, of course, from a premier who in­sists that a Chris­tian prayer should start his prov­ince’s high­est assem­bly, de­spite pub­lic com­plaint: “There are a few peo­ple that would like to re­move the prayer from the start of the leg­isla­tive pro­ceed­ings or my Christ­mas mes­sage, but I don’t think they’re re­flec­tive of the ma­jor­ity of the prov­ince,” Wall told the CBC in 2016. “I don’t want to see the prayer changed. And I would work against see­ing the prayer re­moved from the leg­is­la­ture. I think it is im­por­tant and it should con­tinue.” Any­way, on­wards.)

Let’s parse this lit­tle chest­nut. What Wall is ap­par­ently say­ing is that, if you oc­cupy a po­si­tion such as Payette’s, you should say what you’re ex­pected to say, rather than what you think.

One could make the same ar­gu­ment for pre­miers — so, is Brad Wall’s re­sponse his own, or, is he sim­ply tak­ing his own ad­vice and say­ing what he wants peo­ple to hear?

Re­gard­less, it’s all ei­ther a slow news day or else a case of the thinnest skins imag­in­able.

We’re all dif­fer­ent peo­ple with dif­fer­ent be­liefs; no need to man­u­fac­ture out­rage from the cheap seats.

Wall et al need not have wor­ried: on Thurs­day, Payette ap­peared in New Brunswick with a speech that was re­portable only — and even then, only barely — be­cause of the brouhaha over the other speech.

“Our val­ues are tol­er­ance and de­ter­mi­na­tion, and free­dom of re­li­gion, free­dom to act, op­por­tu­ni­ties, equal­ity of op­por­tu­ni­ties amongst ev­ery­one and for all,” she said.

One vice-re­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive, safely put in her place.

Maybe we could just re­place Payette with a robot, pro­grammed to plant trees, shake hands and smile. “I AM SO GLAD TO BE IN …… (checks ro­botic in­ter­nal en­try) … REGINA….”

Smart, opin­ion­ated and hon­est peo­ple need not ap­ply — un­less they’re speak­ing from the ap­proved lex­i­con.

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