Can Ed Fast Help Us Rebuild Abbotsford?

By Mike Archer. I’ve disagreed with Ed Fast over a number of issues. Most of those have had to do with his public support of his boss and there are a few things on which we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

One of the areas on which Ed and I will have to agree to disagree is the environment. Ed believes, as does his boss, that the Alberta tar sands were put on earth to reward Canada for its Christian nature and provide us with a way forward in these uncertain times.

I think Ed is wrong. I think he is confusing politics and religion and, by mixing the two, is making a conclusion with which I cannot agree.

While I share his desire to secure Canada and BC a strong economic future, I don’t agree that exporting dirty oil is our best bet.

There have been other, minor issues, on which I have taken issue with Ed but, despite all that, he is one of the Abbotsford politicians for whom I have a grudging respect.

Regular readers will know I give little quarter when it comes to politicians, especially career politicians, but there are a few for whom I have a certain amount of respect and with whom I have a careful but trusting relationship.

Ed Fast is among them.

Abbotsford has suffered under some pretty shoddy political leadership.

Our local politicians have made us the laughing stock of Canada on several issues and the shame of our province on others. As a caring, loving, committed and supposedly Christian community, we have been embarrassed, shamed and made to look like fools by a group of people who have taken advantage of the values we claim to hold and hidden behind them while committing atrocious and damnable acts in our name.

John van Dongen

John van Dongen

Why has Ed Fast managed, through all of the shameful and embarrassing actions of local politicians, to stay above the fray?

I think, despite the many political issues on which he and I may disagree, that Ed Fast is that rare commodity in politics – a true constituency man – who, regardless of the vagaries of politics and the fleeting popularity of this or that point of view, takes care of his constituents and looks out for their interests.

It has always been the key to success in Canadian politics, so much so that it is amazing to witness those who appear unable to understand that acting in the best interests of your constituents is the best way to keep your job as a politician.

John Van Dongen sacrificed the protection of party politics in order to fight for the truth. Though he lost his last bid for power as an independent, he can nonetheless look back on a long career of looking out for his constituents’ interests with pride.

Councillor Henry Braun

Councillor Henry Braun

Those who have destroyed the financial and, in some cases, even the moral viability of the City of Abbotsford over the last decade, can look to Fast and Van Dongen as examples, in their attempts to rebuild this city, of the way one keeps the faith with one’s constituents regardless of any disagreements over this or that policy decision or political success or failure.

Look after your constituents.

Former Mayor George Ferguson understood it and so have Ed Fast and John van Dongen. Both built long and successful political careers based on that simple dictum.

Rookie City Councillor Henry Braun seems to get it as does veteran Councillor Moe Gill.

If only the others around the council table could be made to figure it out …

Councillor Moe Gill

Councillor Moe Gill

This doesn’t in any way mean that either Moe Gill, Henry Braun, John van Dongen, George Ferguson or Ed Fast are saints. They are politicians and, as such, must be given a wide berth when it comes to trust. But they share a willingness to engage the people of Abbotsford, and take their lumps when they are wrong, in the interest of building a better community.

Henry Braun once told me that the way he keeps his head above water in politics is that he takes principled stands on issues. That way, if he turns out to be wrong, he has no apologies to make for he stood for what he believed to be in the best interests of the people he represents.

Henry is prepared to accept that he may be wrong. But he does his homework in order to avoid that eventuality and makes his decisions based on what he honestly believes to be in the best interests of the people of Abbotsford.

Not what will get him re-elected. What he believes is right.

What a refreshing approach to serving your friends and neighbours.

Shame - Ink and white charcoal on tea-stained paper. By Carla Navoa.

Shame – Ink and white charcoal on tea-stained paper. By Carla Navoa.

Looking after the people who gave you your jobs is the easiest, most straightforward and obvious way to keep your job in politics. Pity more of our elected politicians can’t figure that simple truth out.

For too long Abbotsford politicians and protected administrators have been able to get away with horrible, unacceptable and despicable behaviour on behalf of a city which has put its faith in seemingly upstanding local community leaders who, we thought, could not allow such awful things to happen in our name.

Those men and women now have to step aside and allow the community they have ruined heal and move on.

Whatever those who have led this community through the last decade of shame have to say in their defence no longer matters.

All that matters is that we build a better community than that we have built under our current leadership.

Ed Fast has a critical role to play in the rebuilding of Abbotsford. If he shows the same political wisdom he has demonstrated in the past, we may come out of our crisis of leadership with a new vision on which we can all agree,

As it stands, most of our local politicians lack the moral or political authority to change a damned thing.

The absence of political leadership in our time of need is a remarkable handicap. Hopefully the leaders among our politicians will step up to the plate and fill the void.

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