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Weekly Commentary  

Kafka lives

Well, okay, Franz Kafka died back in the 1920's but the absurd bureaucratic situations he painfully described in some of his short stories live on.

One of those types of situations was recently (this week) recounted in a media article. For privacy reasons I can't get into the details of the case however it deals with an elderly woman here in the Okanagan trying to get the government to realize that she exists as a citizen.

I know that sounds a tad bizarre, but it appears to be true.

I have tried to follow the tattered threads of her frustrating journey through the cloak of government operations. It has been a bewildering task for me in the last few days and for her over a period of years.

Each time I arrive at what appears to be the logical end point of the problem I discover not a solution, just another cul-de-sac.

Complicating the whole process is that there genuinely does not seem to be one person at fault, nor one clear department of responsibility.

In my own pursuit I have encountered tales of highly detailed investigations, interwoven with unreturned or misplaced calls placed to the offices of well meaning departments, opposition MP's, foreign diplomats and even family members.

My own office has a pretty good record of unraveling nightmare scenarios for individuals at their wits end. Unfortunately, nobody ever made us aware of this one.

The first we heard about it was from a hard working reporter that has spent quite a bit of time on the file. Her genuine interest and professional handling of the case may well be a key factor in its eventual resolution.

All of this to say 'yes', Kafkaesque situations are alive and well even in the most erstwhile of government operations.

There is no excusing them. We need to always remember that processes were designed for people, not people for processes.

The journalistic references to Kafka are doubly ironic. Kafka's own contemporaries debated whether he was an existentialist or not. And here we have a situation where some appear to argue whether this dear woman exists at all.

Stay tuned for what I hope will be a common sense resolution.

On something not as murky, my colleague Ron Cannan and I announced this week the funding for helping people get through another well known maze - the traffic.

Working with provincial and municipal officials we are funding improvements in the bus transportation system. Using high tech and new buses the enhancements will mean more rapid and efficient movement all the way from the Westside through to UBC Okanagan campus out by the airport.

Let me tell you, if you haven't taken a bus ride recently you really should. Along with some of the friendliest drivers, you'll see comfortable and high tech enhancements that you would not have imagined when you were going to school or work ten years ago.

Here's one my granddaughter would say 'waaay cool' to. The bus we were on the other day actually has an electronic signal which can control the traffic lights at an intersection. The driver can shorten the time of a red light or prolong a green one! (Hey, where can I get one of those?)

My schedule this week will be similar to what it's been most of the summer. I'm here for a few days and at meetings around the province for a few.

This week I'll be in Vancouver, Nanaimo, Bella Coola and of course, right here in Paradise. Call anytime for an appointment.


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