Memoir of a Rural Sisyphus-Redux, Political Footballs

Bill Engleson

People trying to get rid of a dangerous or an embarrassing problem by giving it to someone else.


Memoir of a Rural Sisyphus-Redux

Bill Engleson

For several years, I kept a diary of my inauguration into the Denman Community. This column, recently renamed Memoir of a Rural Sisyphus-Redux, will

extract a few of my observations from a dozen or more years ago and share them. Hopefully, they will have some modern times currency.

Political Footballs

October 7, 2007

We got the storm last night. Took the power out briefly.

Before I went to bed, I read the Globe and Mail article on Insite, the safe injection site in Vancouver. It is a political football. On a side bar, perhaps political football is akin to other terms my barber has suggested should be written about, terms such as ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘friendly fire’. Both of these expressions do not really convey what is meant by them. Ethnic cleansing, the barber argues, does not sound so bad. A cleansing ritual, sprucing up a dusty ethnic notion.


I am not convinced.

Not by a long shot.

Regarding another long shot, he then suggests friendly fire is anything but. If your butt is fried, there is nothing friendly about it. Of course, it originated …where did it pop up? Sounds like a case for Wikipedia.

But back to political footballs. They are akin to hot potatoes. The image of someone tossing the heated tuber from one hand to another speedily so as not to get burned comes to mind. Political footballs have a heat of their own, perhaps not one that burns but nevertheless, one that is best managed, passed off to someone else. The implication is that a political football will not benefit the holder. A forward pass, a lateral, some kind of way of getting rid of it is called for because if you retain possession, you might have to do something, make a decision. The connotation is that if you do decide to bring closure to a political football, make a determination, you will lose points. Political points. Oh, you might gain some, but you are also bound to lose some.

Safe injection sites are political footballs. On the one hand, the research seems to show that if you provide a hygienic location for addicts to shoot up, provide clean needles, then you are condoning, nay promoting drug use. Currently in Canada, drug users are required to bring in their own substance to inject. If it is contaminated, the SIS argument is that medical personnel are in a position to respond and save the life of the user. Similarly, if the user overdoses within the SIS, they can get quick first responder intervention.

On the other hand, SIS’s save lives. That is their purpose. This is not, apparently, good enough for the constipated conservatives in Ottawa.

I would personally like to see drugs provided to users. This would seem to enhance the safety. The anti-SIS proponents would see this as clear permission from the larger society use drugs.

As with all sin, all moral failings, addictions of every stripe, there are those who will never subscribe to any plan that would appear to condone. Better let the chips fall where they may, they say.

God bless ’em.