COLUMN: Santa’s sleigh filled with symbolic gifts this year

Peace Arch News columnist Frank Bucholtz hands out items to politicians across the region

It’s that time of year again, where Santa gives a sneak preview of the gifts he has for the high-profile people who affect the lives of the rest of us.

Santa had to change his list dramatically this year. So many of the people he had gifts for were summarily dumped by voters in October, and that didn’t give the elves much time to retool.

He knew that Linda Hepner had planned not to return as Surrey mayor. But he had prepared a fine scale model of the Surrey LRT line from Newton to Guildford, complete with advance traffic signals, separated pedestrian points and everything. The cancellation of the project caused him to think about something else for her, but he went ahead anyway. She did love LRT so.

The man who pulled the plug on LRT is Doug McCallum. Santa didn’t know he would come back as mayor after 13 years, but he always has backup gifts that can be pulled out at a moment’s notice. He thought McCallum might get a kick out of an old IBM desktop computer – the kind that was supposed to stop functioning on Jan. 1, 2000 because of the phenomenon known as Y2K. He figured McCallum would be the only person in the new Surrey city hall with one.

Delta Mayor George Harvie is new at his job but, as longtime administrator, is familiar with how the city operates. Santa thought an appropriate gift might be an immersion course in local politics, but then the province announced it wasn’t even going to come up with a plan to increase traffic flow at the Massey Tunnel chokepoint until 2020. He figured Harvie is fully immersed. Instead, he plans to give the new mayor a number of decommissioned ferries so commuters can (very slowly) cross the Fraser to Richmond.

These can be used (symbolically, of course) to urge Premier John Horgan and Transportation Minister Clare Trevena to stop dithering.

Santa also decided on another anti-dithering gift for Horgan and Trevena. He’s replacing their smartphones with the clunky, brick-like cellphones of the early-1990s. These, too, will be symbolic – to remind the pair of the need to allow this province to join the rest of the world and adopt ride-hailing services. Santa uses Uber himself to ensure all gifts arrive on time.

New White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker is rather soft-spoken, so Santa has given him a megaphone. He wants to be sure everyone can hear him at council. He has also brought him a timer so that the many citizens who take advantage of the restored question period stay within time limits.

Surrey school board chair Laurie Larsen simply wants new schools. Santa is going to help by giving tents to all the students who don’t have a classroom to learn in. He’s arranging a campout on the legislature lawns in Victoria, just to let politicians on this side of the pond know that new schools were needed years ago.

Santa also wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas.

Frank Bucholtz writes Wednesdays for Peace Arch News.

frank.bucholtz@gmail.com

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