Com­mon sense and con­nec­tions

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON

This year’s edi­tion of the Wil­liamstown Fair looked rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent than pre­vi­ous in­car­na­tions.

It sounded dif­fer­ent and it smelled dif­fer­ent too.

That’s be­cause there was no me­chan­i­cal mid­way. There was no Fer­ris wheel to light up the sky at night. There were no show­men (they don’t like be­ing called carnies) urg­ing dad­dies and boyfriends to pony up five dol­lars for a chance to win a two-buck stuffed an­i­mal. The smell of candy ap­ples was ab­sent.

That’s be­cause the St. Lawrence Val­ley Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety, the or­ga­ni­za­tion that over­sees the Wil­liamstown Fair, elected to go with an in­flat­able mid­way this year. Its rea­sons were wholly fi­nan­cial; it sim­ply couldn’t af­ford the ask­ing price of the fair’s long­time mid­way provider. In­stead, the so­ci­ety hired Ru­namok Amuse­ments, an Ot­tawa-based com­pany that spe­cial­izes in pro­vid­ing in­flat­able play struc­tures. Ap­par­ently, the so­ci­ety was so pleased that it of­fered Ru­namok first re­fusal for next year’s Wil­liamstown Fair.

If the so­ci­ety per­ma­nently re­places the me­chan­i­cal mid­way with in­flat­able amuse­ments, it will be a de­ci­sion that is both fru­gal and op­ti­mistic. Fru­gal be­cause – hey – it saves money. Op­ti­mistic be­cause it pre­sumes that long­time fair­go­ers can quickly ditch the emo­tional con­nec­tions they have with Fer­ris wheels, roller coast­ers, and carousels.

And let’s not deny that there is an emo­tional con­nec­tion. There’s a let­ter to the ed­i­tor in this week’s News where a whole lot of peo­ple echo that very sen­ti­ment.

It’s hard to fault the St. Lawrence Val­ley Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety which, like every or­ga­ni­za­tion on Earth, is not made of money. Mid­ways are fun but they’re not worth bankrupt­ing your­self over.

Of course, it’s hard to fault the mid­way providers too. They, like a whole lot of other em­ploy­ers, sud­denly saw a hike in ex­penses now that the min­i­mum wage has gone up. Like ev­ery­one, they know that money has to come from some­where.

And most of the time, it has to come at the bot­tom line.

Ad­vice for po­lit­i­cal hope­fuls

For the first time ever, I’m go­ing to use my col­umn to give some ad­vice to a whole lot of peo­ple. That’s right. There’s about two dozen peo­ple out there who I am di­rectly tar­get­ting with what comes next. Take it with a grain of salt if you want. I’m no Dear Abby. I’m no Anne Lan­ders. I’m not nearly as good look­ing as those two. All I am is a small town news­pa­per manag­ing ed­i­tor who thinks he has a few pearls to dis­pense to the var­i­ous cit­i­zens who are vy­ing for spots on North or South Glen­garry coun­cils.

Soon, ladies and gentle­men, you will be in­vited to at­tend all-candidate meet­ings, which will give you an op­por­tu­nity to meet the pub­lic and to dis­cuss the is­sues.

Those last three words are im­por­tant. Dis­cuss the is­sues. Please do that. DIS­CUSS. THE. IS­SUES. If you dis­cuss the is­sues then vot­ers won’t feel as if they’ve wasted their time and, per­haps more im­por­tantly, small town manag­ing edi­tors won’t get frus­trated.

If you think I’m kid­ding, then you haven’t at­tended a whole lot of all-candidate meet­ings. At these af­fairs, each candidate is usu­ally given about two min­utes to make their pitch. So if you find your­self be­hind a mi­cro­phone this fall and you’ve got a brief pe­riod of time to make your case, then make it. Please please PLEASE don’t do the fol­low­ing: - Talk about how much you love Glen­garry. - Talk about how long you’ve lived in Glen­garry (“I’m a life­long Glen­gar­rian” means ab­so­lutely noth­ing at these meet­ings.)

- Talk about how long your fam­ily has lived in Glen­garry. - Talk about the busi­ness you op­er­ate. - Make mean­ing­less broad state­ments like: “If you vote for me, I prom­ise I will al­ways lis­ten to you and con­tinue to make Glen­garry the best place in the world to live.”

You know what? As a voter, I don’t care about how long you’ve lived in Glen­garry. I care only about what CHANGES you will make if you are in of­fice. If you think taxes are too high, SAY IT. If you think the wa­ter project needs to be scrapped or ex­panded, SAY IT.

If you think the town­ship needs to build a land­ing pad for fly­ing saucers, SAY IT.

In other words, talk about the prob­lems and then tell us how you in­tend to solve them.

One of the best speeches I ever heard at one of these events was way back in 2003 when John War­den was first elected to South Glen­garry coun­cil. He stood up at the old Mart­in­town Com­mu­nity Cen­tre and said the

fol­low­ing: “If elected, I will take money out of coun­cil’s pocket and put it back in yours.”

That’s all he said. Short and sweet and to the point. Here we are, 15 years later, and I re­mem­ber his speech ver­ba­tim.

It’s frus­trat­ing for jour­nal­ists to cover these all-candidate meet­ings when the can­di­dates don’t dis­cuss the is­sues.

The rea­son it’s so frus­trat­ing is be­cause we want to be ob­jec­tive and spill an equal amount of ink on every candidate.

But maybe that’s not a re­al­is­tic way of do­ing things. Maybe our sto­ries should fo­cus on the is­sues and maybe the can­di­dates who refuse to talk about them should be ig­nored rather than high­lighted.

Buck-a-beer

It’s no sur­prise that our craft brew­eries aren’t giv­ing stand­ing ova­tions to the Doug Ford gov­ern­ment’s re­in­state­ment of the buck-a-beer pol­icy. Both Beau’s Brew­ery in Van­kleek Hill and Rur­ban in Corn­wall have long prided them­selves on be­ing pro­duc­ers of qual­ity beer. As such, buck-a-beer has no sheen for them. If the gov­ern­ment an­nounced that mo­tor ve­hi­cles could cost a base price of $5,000, we’d hardly ex­pect Fer­rari to stoop to that level. They would un­der­stand, rightly so, that some con­sumers will pay a lit­tle ex­tra for qual­ity.

So power to Beau’s and power to Rur­ban and let us hope for con­tin­ued suc­cess to them in this new era of cheap beer.

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