How many bureaucrats does it take to keep the GG from changing a light bulb?

“Climate change is the greatest all-round threat this country faces,” he wrote Oct. 16, “and … my nation’s government should not let us down with half-measures, a curtsy to junk science or a sell-out to the tar sands.” Independent MP Garth Turner.

“We don’t think that energy efficient lighting is appropriate for Official Residences.” So sayeth the all-powerful National Capital Commission. Last spring I tried to schedule a photo shoot at Rideau Hall with the Governor General changing a bulb at the Head of State’s Official Residence on Sussex Drive. And why would that be so crazy? After all, it’s a home in Ottawa, and we have a mandate to deliver a bulb to every home. And she’s supposed to be a leader and a representative of the people.

It took nearly 6 weeks to get a reply to the request. The communications folks at Rideau Hall sent me to the National Capital Commission. Then I had to talk to someone at Canadian Heritage in Protocol, who sent me back to Rideau Hall. Apparently, the Governor General is not even allowed to change a bulb herself. That would slice through so many layers of bureaucratic and union red tape that it would be considered revolutionary, even republican. No, the GG can’t change a bulb. I am not amused.

So OK, maybe it’s a stretch to try to get the GG up on a ladder on her regal porch to change a bulb. I’d be happy with a photo of her holding our CFL — like the PM, David Suzuki and others have graciously done for our web photo gallery. Nope, that’s not possible either. Jeffrey Chapman, Communications rep at Rideau Hall told me today that he didn’t think environment or energy efficiency were among Mme Jean’s “priorities” and that if we got her to hold a bulb they would open themselves up to all kinds of questions. I said, “It’s a light bulb, not the tar sands.” Still, it seems that Rideau Hall would like to duck the looming climate crisis and miss the chance to connect with the ordinary folks. If she can’t change a bulb, though, is she really one of us? Perhaps the NCC has a plan to reinstall kerosene gas lamps and coal furnaces for that authentic Rideau Hall experience.

The thing is, I think Mme Jean would like Porchlight. I think she’d smile with a bulb, if I could get past her quaking conservative peons. After all, Her Excellency grew up in Haiti. It’s the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. And they’ve been using energy efficient bulbs for decades. The fact that she came from there to here really is excellent. I just wish her handlers could see the light.

“Enough about me; let’s talk about you for a minute. Enough about you; let’s talk about life for a while. The conflict and the craziness and the sound of pretenses falling all around. All Around!!”
Alanis Morrissette

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