• This is where the seniors’ talent pool has a distinct advantage, and a quick look at the above mentioned math clearly demonstrates as much:
-If the average age of a government consultant is forty-five, such a consultant likely has around twenty years of experience. Thus, if one hundred consultants are hired for eight hours a day
at $200 an hour for six months (125 working days), the cost is $20,000,000. Total experience purchased: two thousand years. However, if the average age of a “senior” consultant is seventy,
and one hundred ‘senior’ consultants are hired for eight hours a day, they’d likely work for a total of a hundred bucks per diem just for something to do. The total cost would be $1,250,000,
and the experience purchased: forty five hundred years!
-The comparative, cumulative brainpower is astounding, as is the cost savings. Not only that, added expenses would also be far less because they’re seniors. A senior’s coffee at McDonald’s is less than a buck, and an entire lunch at Tim Hortons can come in at just over six, including coffee. This is a far cry from liquid lunches at the QE Beaver Club in Montreal, for example, and a lot more work gets done.
-This standby force is available all across Canada, and readily contacted. Canadians of all races and creeds can be found in countless coffee shops all over the country. The best contact time
is ten a.m., or three in the afternoon. They are multi-gender, though when offering advice to the government that does not involve old age pensions and health care, women are generally in a minority. This talent pool bears various names, the most predominant being “The Daily Coffee Crowd.” Some members are dedicated to thepoint of being available seven days a week.
Their motto: Use it; you’re going to lose it anyway.
• Some sort of backup strategy should be in place if she was proven wrong. The pilot, as an apparent outsider, seemed to offer the best chance of—of what exactly, she didn’t know.
But setting up some form of communication “for if and when it was needed” had seemed like a good idea.
For the briefest of moments she’d been alone with the man and tried digging for more information, anything that might help gain an edge for later use. “Do you fly out of
Slave Lake?” Lorna whispered.
The pilot lowered his voice to a whisper as well, and at first she didn’t realize the man was toying with her. He pointed across the lake toward the Town of Slave Lake. “Yeah, the
plane’s based there at the end of the lake. Right at the airport.”
“Do you know who I am?” Lorna had hissed, looking over her shoulder to where her uncle was helping James McGregor onto the aircraft, even though James was probably
ten years his junior.
“I think so. Aren’t you Lorna St. Louis, the MP for Edmonton Centre?
”“Yeah, yeah, that’s right.” Lorna experienced a tiny shiver of pleasure at being recognized. “Look, when you get back here tonight, I wonder if later on, if I needed to send a few
messages, could you—”
“Whoa, whoa, slow down a minute,” the pilot had replied. “Do you know who I am?”
Lorna had hesitated, puzzled because she hadn’t really cared, as long as the flyboy did what she asked. Nonetheless, she took the bait. “Okay, who are you?”
“You’re not going to guess?”
“Why should I?” Lorna replied, irritated by the question, yet sensing the ground beneath her feet turning soggy.
“Exactly! Why should you, and who cares anyway, huh, as long as I can be of use? Well, my name’s Vern. And I’m the guy who drove the black Lincoln decoy after Willis turned off 124th Street and put you guys in the van.”
“You didn’t even know there was a decoy, did you?”
Lorna had simply sighed and turned away to stare blankly out at the aircraft bobbing gently on the water, as everyone continued to board.
• Albert shook his head. “You know, it bugs me to think that my doctor and dentist—who are nice guys, don’t get me wrong—are stashing investments away using income taxed
at fourteen percent, while their patients have to pay double that rate or more on earnings that are a fraction of what he makes. It’s not right.”
“So what do you think the rate should be?” Vern asked, his tone almost belligerent.
“I dunno,” Albert muttered, sounding mildly exasperated. “Using Willis’s example, it seems pretty disgusting to give any business, small or not, a tax rate that is less than that for a single mother raising her kids. In other words, it shouldn’t be any less than twenty-five percent. After all, if a company isn’t making a profit, it doesn’t pay the tax anyway, does it?”
• Willis had it figured that was perhaps a key reason Canada, along with other western countries, were in the mess they were in to begin with: politicians cannot follow their consciences and say what they think without getting nailed for their opinion and banished to the Netherworld. And since politicians, before being elected, were members of the general public—which meant that most must have held similar politically incorrect opinions—the general public
could never truly get its voice heard, all in the interest of nice-speak. So politicians were forced to lie, and as everyone knows, once you start lying, it becomes second nature.
• Lorna was torn. Part of her wanted to shout that these guys were just a group of unhappy, bitching seniors criticizing the efforts of the hard-working people tasked with running a difficult, complex machine called the government.
Another part of her remembered the enormous variety of elected members she’d encountered during her three years in office. They ranged from the vacuous to the brilliant; from the rough diamond to the polished granite lump; from the totally unqualified to the fully experienced; and most of all, from the sincere contributor to the public interest to the “look at me, I’m an MP” cretin—and that wasn’t even counting the ones who were just there for the money, the
perks and the prestige.
• Too much of a good thing can get on one’s nerves; too much of anything you aren’t particularly fond of to begin with will eventually drive you stark raving mad.
• The only, only reason the man’s there is because his party, his team, his tribe, figure they can win the election with him as chief—or captain, if you will. You’d think it was all a
frigging hockey game, for God’s sake.”
• “Must be good. Trophy lake?”
“Could qualify I guess, but it’s not official.” Morgan managed a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “Some nice fish up there. Lake trout, jack, walleye.”
“Where is it, exactly?”
“That’s hard to say. The only way in is by air, and you need the coordinates to hit it. That’s easy now, of course, with a GPS, but most pilots familiar with the area can find it with a survey map and a compass.” Bert Morgan pursed his lips, then said with an air of finality, “In general terms,
it’s about an hour and a half flying time north of Slave Lake, including take off and landing. But then, that depends on the speed of the aircraft making the trip.”
“I see,” Chan said, and rose to his feet. “Thanks. I guess that’s all we need for the moment. We’ll be in touch.”
All four trooped off to the front door. They were almost down the steps, Chan with one foot on the driveway, when he did what he liked to call his Columbo number. He paused and turned to face the Morgans, assuming a puzzled expression.
“There is one more question. I don’t suppose there’s any point in asking if anyone’s up there at the moment?”
Joyce glanced at Bert, who simply stared at Bob Chan, his face deadpan. For a moment he remained silent, then as if shaking his head for emphasis, murmured, “No, I can truthfully
assure you there is not.”
As the car pulled away from the sprawling ranch houseon its way back to Edmonton, Bob Chan cursed under his breath. As a very senior police officer he sorely needed tobrush up on his interrogation techniques. Even more important, he needed to spend less time trying to make an impression, particularly in front of subordinates, and more time learning to say what he really meant. Well, he’d certainly made an impression, and a damned foolish one, too. Debbie
Roth voiced it, and not too subtly either, when they were less than a kilometre down the road.
Quite smugly, she asked, “Did Bert Morgan mean there’s nobody up at the lake right now, or that there was no point in you asking?”
• Oh, sorry,” Keith said, but continued anyway; after all, he’s still a lawyer. “I meant the bit about spending to get back in. That’s the fatal flaw in our system—it’s the fatal flaw
in any democratic system. A politician wins a seat, parks his butt firmly on the cushion, and falls in love with the way it fits. In no time flat, he doesn’t want to let go of it because of the five Ps: perks, power, pensions, prestige, and privilege.
In no time at all he’s willing to sell his soul to get back in for another ride on the train. That’s where the real cost to the country comes in. The very first week on the job, even a brand new politician starts thinking about how he’s going to get back in. Everything he does after that, every decision he makes, is influenced by the votes he needs to get back in: policy, spending, blind support for the party, you name it.”