Pen and paper

I admire Salman Rushdie. He took a subject that is never questioned and asked some very uncomfortable questions. The result was a lifetime of ostracism and living in hiding for both him and his family. Yet, he trusted his words and went forward.

Writers have an obligation to poke the sleeping beast and examine it in the light of day no matter how much fire it breathes. This is the price we pay in exchange for our gift of words. No gift is free and writers pay a high price for what we do. However, I’ve never met a writer who didn’t pay that price willingly.

Recently, events in the Alberta Legislature have me twisted in knots and the storyteller in me will not sit still. I see PC party members bailing out like they’re on the Titanic and Premier Alison Redford at the helm like a demented child. I’ve even created the hashtag #despot when describing her on Twitter. I’m angry at the way she goes through Alberta taxpayer’s money as though it were her personal piggy bank. Her communications people are oddly quiet on all matters and getting any answers is like trying to catch a unicorn and I’m not a virgin anymore.

I’ve been listening to a lot of journalists who are asking the same questions I am. All the questions boil down to the same thing; what’s going on with Redford? It doesn’t matter if you’re a supporter or not, one glaring question should be on everyone’s mind; why isn’t her office answering questions?

Years ago I made a discovery about our government. If you ask a question or have a complaint, they are obligated to supply a response of some kind. As a taxpayer, you have the right to ask the questions and expect a reasonable response from your government. This hasn’t happened with Redford’s office. Just read my post questioning her travel expenses. Three phone calls, numerous Facebook posts and Tweets. Not a single response.

Now I’m angry.

Today I went to a networking event. I am a Corporate Storyteller with my own business and need to keep in touch with Edmonton’s business community. I’m not very good at these things and I tend to blurt out whatever comes into my head. I’m rather like a Labrador puppy with a ball. Very happy and full of play but completely oblivious to the fact that I’ve just peed on someone’s shoes.

The subject of Redford came up. I know I should avoid politics but I just can’t ignore this situation. There were gasps of horror at my creation of the hashtag #despot and giggles of embarrassment when I tried to get opinions. No one was willing to go in depth. I finally got the idea that it wasn’t the time or place but if I can’t talk about an issue that affects every single business person in Edmonton at an event where Edmonton entrepreneurs are gathered then where can I?

This is when I realized I’m different from other entrepreneurs. Writers often stick out in a crowd. We don’t mean to but we do. We ask uncomfortable questions and poke under rocks when other people want to ignore things. We put ourselves on the line when we see that beast and drag it out into the light of day. I want to be sorry for making others uncomfortable but I just can’t find it within myself to be sincere about it.

So I’m putting out a call to Alberta writers to examine what’s going on. I don’t care what side of the issue you’re on, just start poking the beast. Get people talking and make them uncomfortable if you need to. There is a serious flaw in the Alberta Legislature right now and we need to look at it closely not just giggle in embarrassment and walk away.

“But it is a writer’s duty to write and speak and record the truth, always the truth, no matter whom may be offended.” ― Edward Abbey, Postcards from Ed: Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast