The same old song - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Whenever I’ve had a free moment in the past few weeks, I’ve been working my way through a re-watch of The Wire, the fabulous HBO show that is often called the greatest drama ever.
The show’s central ethos is that things don’t really tend to change, that there are systematic reasons for that lack of change and that that lack of change often has negative results on the institutions in question, their communities and, ultimately, the people.
The fresh faces of people with fresh ideas and new ways of thinking are often eschewed for more of the same people, which results in, you guessed it, more of the same.
The Wire tells the story of how systematic breakdowns at the top of organizations like a police department, the manufacturing sector, city politics, the education system and legacy media filter down and affect, for lack of a better term, the little people.
I haven’t been able to ignore the feeling of that old adage, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”, as I’ve written
The Citizen’s “Looking Back Through The Years” section in the last few months.
Twenty-five years ago, federal Progressive Conservative Party leader Jean Charest was in Goderich trying to connect with Huron County residents. I was a little young to care about politics back then, but we all know now that Charest’s name has resurfaced in the news as he again seeks federal party leadership.
Charest isn’t even the only person in that race who’s given me déjà vu. Just five years ago, Patrick Brown was in Walton for the opening ceremonies of the International Plowing Match, addressing the crowd as the leader of the provincial Conservatives. Just a few months later, he would resign amid sexual assault allegations that were later shown to be false, but he’s back in the leadership picture.
The one that’s really giving me flashbacks has been the proposal by the Morris-Turnberry Council of the day to create its own fire department after a breakdown in negotiations with North Huron over fire coverage.
The inability for those warring neighbouring councils to do anything that resembles getting along is a kind of evergreen topic.
I won’t pick apart ongoing situations between the two (as tough as it is to resist an in-context reference to The Wire character of Norman Wilson, who called Baltimore Mayor Tommy Carcetti “just a weak-ass mayor of a broke-ass city”) but it’s certainly noteworthy that the turbulence between them is not new.
Back then, one drove the other to consider the monumental task of starting its own fire department from the ground up. As a result, residents feared for the future of fire coverage in their communities and Huron County Council gave some thought to a county-wide fire department - all because the two councils of the day couldn’t play nice with one another.
We’ve had more than our fair share of ripple effects from that marriage of inconvenience in recent years, so maybe it’s less of a resurgence of a prior issue and more of an issue that never really went away. Either way, reading that old news feels a lot like reading the new news.
If I’m to follow through on my comparison to The Wire, has this lack of change resulted in systemic failure? Hard to say, I suppose.
One of the best aspects of this job has always been coming in to work every day to do something new, speak to somebody new and maybe learn something new. In retrospect, maybe the subject matter of the day isn’t quite as new as it feels, like the same old house, but with a fresh coat of paint.