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Living in Non-Service Ontario


Steve Campbell

Every time I write a column about out-of-control bureaucracy, I get the usual comments from people who feel that thousands of rules – most of which people aren’t even aware of – are necessary to control our out-of-control citizens.
“If only one life is saved, the rules are worth it,” people say. And I hear it a lot.
I disagree. Sometimes lives are lost. Not through stupidity (unfortunately), but most often because people end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
For example, you’re moving through an intersection and a high-speed driver T-bones you while running a red light. All the rules in the world won’t stop this from happening, and there is no escape, no matter how brilliant a driver you are.
Say, you’re on a Greyhound bus and your throat is slit. No stopping that – we already have rules that are supposed to stop that. Searching every bus passenger’s bag is just a knee-jerk reaction. That’s just a placebo to make it appear that someone is on the ball.
Like having to remove your sandals at airport security, or dumping your water bottle and your coke, but not your baby formula. (Wouldn’t a smart terrorist hide his knife/gun/explosives in a baby bottle? I think so.)
Or say you’re at the Quebec celebration party and a guy in a bathrobe guns you down. You won’t even have time to wonder why he didn’t stop to dress.
But people like to be mollified, thinking that hundreds of thousands of bureaucrats are out there making sure they are safe.
These are people who have not heard the stories I have heard about invasions by various officials, or multiple departments, and are handed paperwork requiring $40,000 in upgrades to businesses that have proven to be safe and compliant with the law.
What changed? Just the rules.
And the rules are flying fast and furious. Many of us break 20 or 30 laws each day, without even knowing it.
But lots of people like to live in an Ontario that operates like Hitler’s Germany (“Show us your papers!” – the mantra of any government agency). Except the trains don’t run on time, due to cutbacks.
But thank God there’s lots of money for Enforcement, if not for homeless people, or paying down the national or provincial debt.
By going along with this willingly, all you’re really doing is approving a system that keeps us over-protected, over-insured and over-legislated.
If you’re cool with that, remember Hitler’s Germany – they will eventually come for you, and there will be no-one left to protect you.
If you lead a small life, you have never encountered problems with getting a passport. I see those people at least once a week, thanks to my fax service.
In one case, I photocopied the driver’s licences for an elderly Dutch couple, who have lived here in the County since the early ‘50s.
I dutifully did a single copy, and then flipped the sheet to record the licence back on the reverse side. They mailed it in. He was accepted; she was rejected.
As it was told to me, in typical Word on the Street fashion, the sheet went in the husband’s folder.
“Do you have my folder there?”
“Do you see my driver’s licence, with my wife’s below it?”
“Could you take a pair of scissors and cut the sheet in half, and put my wife’s in her folder?”
“No. She must resubmit.”
Hilarious as this is, it’s no joke.
As my sometimes-wise friend Jack Moore once said to me: “Steve, you’re under the mistaken impression that civil servants are there to serve us and make things happen. But their only goal is to make sure they generate enough work every day to keep their peachy jobs.”
This is why I tell people to wait for their fax confirmation sheet – because the government never says, “We didn’t get it,” or “We lost it,” they say, “You didn’t send it.” Trust me on this.
And, if you still love rules that require loads of paperwork, you have never made an insurance claim. Lucky you.
I have a load of stories to tell you, and some of them are real head-shakers. I’ll give you some details in the next column, which will demonstrate the enormous amount of time and money it takes to persecute individuals and businesses all over Ontario – one at a time.
By fining or jailing individuals, and driving businesses out of business, soon the only jobs available will be government jobs and, boy, will WE have a big chip on our shoulders if you get US on the phone!
One quick story to end, about my visit to Non-Service Ontario for a licence renewal. I do not blame the sweet girls who are obligated to jerk people around, thanks to the heavily-funded federal and provincial “Jerk-Around” programs.
I was there to renew a sticker on a vehicle I’ve had off the road for a few years. I admit I shot myself in the foot here, because I figured if there was a problem, it would be a ‘licence bureau’ problem. So I decided to get the sticker first, before I called Stanton’s to add it to my existing insurance policy.
In the parking lot, while sorting out my papers, I listened to three people coming down the sidewalk, who had all left empty-handed – to search for that ‘other’ document they needed.
I met a friend on the way in and said, jokingly: “Welcome to Non-Service Ontario … be prepared to leave empty-handed!”
Not so funny. She did, and I did, and two other people in the line-up did. And there was a 70-year-old guy sitting in a chair, who told me to “Go ahead.” (He may have been 50 when he got there, for all I know.)
This violated the “Pull-A-Ticket” number machine, even though a number was never, ever called, since we were all queued up in typical British fashion, and politely took the next available opening.
(I was number 30, so I put it in my pocket, in case the next time I go in, the numbers are up to 170, and I can jump the line.)
Turns out, I needed to insure the car, and have the proper slip in hand, before they would issue the sticker. Okay, so I did it in the wrong order.
After assurance that the sticker would be issued, I went to the parking lot, called Don Stanton’s, and explained the situation. In a half hour, I was back with the insurance papers. This is why I shop locally, because WE actually do the job!
Without the hassles.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElseSteve Campbell

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  1. Ignorance is not an excuse says:

    With respect to your attempt to purchase validation for an uninsured vehicle – if insurance was not required at the time of purchase, half the province would not have insurance. Also, without insurance the computer will not allow us to issue stickers. I suppose if you were pulled over by the police without insurance, ServiceOntario would be the first to blame.
    With respect to the farmer land owner applications, the forms have changed this year. If the form was completed incorrectly and not handed into a qualified persone to review, your form would be disqualified, if not completed properly,

  2. Mark says:

    Oh our wonderful Non Service Ontario. I sat in Belleville’s Non Service Ontario for an hour and fifteen minutes yesterday to hand in a landowners deer hunting application for Prince Edward County. Just hand it in, no receipt no nothing, nothing to prove it was submitted. The lady at the arrival desk couldn’t take it, you had to push the machine for a number so you could wait to hand it to someone else. No you can’t do this at Non Service Ontario in Picton and wait in your own municipality where the actual hunt is taking place. It’s deemed as better service to travel to Belleville and wait in their space to hand it to someone. Somethings that make you go Hmmmmmmmmm!

  3. fed up says:

    I prefer facts to “stories”-otherwise known as gossip, speculation, and hyperbole.

  4. Jason Pettit says:

    I think that to make his point Steve used an extreme….it serves to place a kind of magnifying glass over the topic so that the important points are understood.

    It would be hard indeed to write this column using solid facts….it is a column about lifestyle and the spirit of freedom, vaporous things which don’t lend themselves easily to firm proof.

    I get the gist though, things aren’t like they used to be. Some of those things were bad but a great many were good, and they have been tainted to a degree or are gone altogether.

  5. Jones says:

    “an Ontario that operates like Hitler’s Germany”

    Maybe you’re trying to be funny…but that’s not funny.

  6. fed up says:

    You seem to be the author of your own misfortunes.
    By the way-which 20 or 30 laws did you break today? I know your column is supposed to be funny, but some of the more naive among those on County Live actually think the things you say might be based on fact. But I guess that’s their problem; it is just entertainment, after all.

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