Well-de­served thanks for Guy

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - STEVEN WARBURTON

Per­haps one of the most telling com­ments to come out of Guy Lau­zon’s re­tire­ment din­ner was that the vet­eran politi­cian has at­tended so many com­mu­nity events over the past 15 years that see­ing him in pub­lic is no longer a nov­elty. Eric Dun­can put it best when he said that Mr. Lau­zon, the Con­ser­va­tive MP who has rep­re­sented Stor­mont-Dun­das-South Glen­garry over the past 15 years, no longer gets the red car­pet treat­ment at var­i­ous church sup­pers or county fairs. Peo­ple here tend to see him more as an or­di­nary guy than they do their elected of­fi­cial.

That’s prob­a­bly the way Mr. Lau­zon – or Guy, as he likes to be called – prefers it. Over the past decade and a half that I have been work­ing at The Glen­garry News, I es­ti­mate that I have seen him at more than a hun­dred dif­fer­ent events. He’s al­ways quick to re­turn my phone calls, even if he’s driv­ing to or from Par­lia­ment on the 417, and he’s never shied away from con­tro­versy. Of all the politi­cians I have writ­ten about over a 20-year news­pa­per ca­reer, Guy Lau­zon was the most vis­i­ble.

Yes, you could say that part of the rea­son is ge­og­ra­phy. When I worked in Al­berta, for ex­am­ple, I could hardly ex­pect our MP to have a com­pa­ra­ble pres­ence in his com

mu­nity. He didn’t have the lux­ury of hav­ing a home rid­ing less than an hour’s drive from Par­lia­ment Hill.

But I am not that cyn­i­cal. Mr. Lau­zon would likely ad­mit that his prox­im­ity to home en­abled him to at­tend so many events, but that’s not what mo­ti­vated him to keep get­ting out there. He was mo­ti­vated by a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity, that he held his po­si­tion not through some mis­placed sense of en­ti­tle­ment but, rather, through the good graces of his sup­port­ers.

On Wed­nes­day, Mr. Lau­zon con­fessed that some­times, when he’s driv­ing home, he thinks about his ten­ure in Ot­tawa as a dream come true. He spoke again and again about his bat­tle with al­co­hol – a bat­tle that most peo­ple lose – yet he, some­how, came out of it rel­a­tively un­scathed and even grad­u­ated to be­come a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment.

I will take some space here to thank Mr. Lau­zon for his 15 years in Ot­tawa, for his com­mit­ment to deal­ing swiftly with the me­dia, and for treat­ing his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer not as a right but as an enor­mous priv­i­lege.

One won’t do; we need two

Here’s a thought that’s bound to be un­pop­u­lar with all the peo­ple clam­or­ing for one amal­ga­mated school board in Glen­garry: “One won’t do. We need two.” I agree that four boards are too many. We have way too much du­pli­ca­tion of ser­vices with that many boards com­petitng for our stu­dents, but that’s not to say that com­pe­ti­tion isn’t a bad thing.

Com­pe­ti­tion sure works in the pri­vate sec­tor. We’ll give our busi­ness to who­ever gives us the best deal.

Doesn’t it stand to rea­son that the same might also work with ed­u­ca­tion?

If Board A won’t give you the French im­mer­sion cour­ses you want, haul your kid out of there and send them to Board B.

If Board B can’t pro­vide your spe­cial needs kids with the ser­vices they need, then send them to Board A.

You could ar­gue that with one all-en­com­pass­ing board, there will be enough fi­nan­cial re­sources in place to en­sure that every child’s need is met. That may be so, but the pos­si­bil­ity of los­ing a child – and the pro­vin­cial grant that goes with him – could also prove to be a pow­er­ful in­cen­tive.

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