Dion: Follow Obama's Lead

Dion: Follow Obama's Lead

Here we are a few scant weeks before the holidays and what do we as Canadians get for Christmas? No federal government during the worst crisis of this century and of the past 70 years. Pigs are not flying, but apparently some people got their wishes and we have no government. Fundamentally this is alright, as it's out national character to wait and until there's a pile of bodies it's prudent to see what works and January is probably the right time to implement actions to get our near-arctic socialist utopia through the Siberian winter.

Now, in a few weeks time the government will back like an early spring flower, spring back to life. But if in those few weeks what we have then is what we have now, it's a tough call who the governor general should pick to run a government.

But! If the coalition were to suddenly spring into and use the kind of outreach and feedback the Internet gives to coalesce grass roots support and the coalition were to act like a team in transition to power, in a truly open and transparent manner, to begin planning for the future and involving the citizenry in the great change upon us now as we migrate from an oil based culture. Make no mistake there will be opposition to this.

I'm 51 and was born in Wales but became a Canadian citizen as a child. As a young man in the seventies, having been exposed to Unix at Waterloo I fled to California and worked 10 years in the compute industry and help grow the internet in Los Angeles. These days I'm setting up a green company to a) help the cause, b) create jobs in this are by re purposing legacy infrastructure.

This is a new venture and while it's been kicking around as an idea since the spring the decision to move forward with this was made slightly after the US election. For a while there I was toying with the idea of moving to DC to help out. I have two sons born and living in the US, I'm a bona fide "stakeholder" albeit not a citizen, and I like what I see come out of the new administration so far. This is more than evolutionary.

But, any plans to move to DC were scuttled. I didn't need to. Let me explain.

My dream job was to file my resume with the Obama administration and be recognized as being so clever they'd stick me in an office, keep me up to date then ask my opinion on important issues. I could sit there with my feet on my desk, think deeply about stuff and offer clever insight and help save the world one piece at a time. Go me.

I figured I was pretty clever but Obama and his people were even more clever. I began filling out the 5 part application to work for the transition team and before I finished it I got an email from John Podesta in my inbox thanking me and inviting me to edit it over time to keep them posted. Ok, now that's clever. I feel involved already. Plus if you think about it they've given me facebook like functionality in their own little domain. Clever. Ok I'm impressed. But I'm no closer to that office behind the beltway with my feet on my desk as an important analyst and probably wearing cowboy boots by now.

But again Obama and his people are one step ahead of me. In this mornings missive from Podesta are a bunch of important issues they'd like to me to analyze and comment on. And the clever buggers they're not even paying me anything, I don't actually have to go anywhere and I did in fact have my feet on my desk, in cowboy boots. Yee haw.

Meanwhile what's Canada doing? Both sides are sitting back watching the Queens representative decide between the American influenced oil party or a coalition of English and French intellectuals.

At this point Mr. Dion, apply the first rule of engineering: "find something that works already and copy it" and you could do a whole lot worse than to just copy what Obama did for a couple of reasons: first, it worked. There's a lot to be said for things that actually work. in fact you could do a whole lot worse than to just clone the system Obama has. Maybe even there's a chance for cooperation here as the problems facing us don't suddenly stop at an arbitrary geopolitical border - that is a square foot of land on either side of the US/Canada border has the same problems but can share the same solutions.

So, right now I'm working for the US administration. Well, I'm not really of course as the cheeky buggers have managed to not pay me and are getting it free. Yup, that's the Internet alright - I've been here before.

And while it's a good thing to be helping out our American friends like this, and I feel obligated to Cc: my own government on any communications of import to the USG it's not like there's a box on the forms at Obama's site saying "Cc:" now is there.

Obama has made it easy to help out America - you don't even have to be American, and from what I've seen so far there is a renewed spark in America a they look to this and go "Hey, this is something I can actually be involved in" and good ideas rise to the top no matter where they're from. It is so far the best intersection of government and internet and heaven knows there have been some not so good ones.

But, what's Canada doing? Nothing like this, I assure you. And we should. The problems I'm working on are to be sure good for both Canada and the US but anything unique to Canada gets lost in this change locomotive express barreling down the tracks. Why not hitch a car to it? It does seem to be working in the US.

Now if you'll excuse me I have to get back to my DC in basket. It overfloweth.

Richard Sexton,
Dec 7, 2008