Maxed Out 

Physiotherapists big winners in sustainability initiative

Riddle o’ the Week: How is Whistler preaching sustainability like a paedophile priest preaching piety?

Well, while you either fret or fume over that question, let’s consider the sorry, sorry state of language. No, I’m not referring to the supposed inability of Little Johnny to speak in whole sentences, let alone string a few together into a coherent paragraph. Neither am I referring to the profane degradation wrought by trash talkin’ homeys cum rap stars.

I’m feeling personally insulted by most of what passes for political and business rhetoric any more. Alfonso Gagliano plays bagman for the Liberal Party in Quebec and Big Jean, when confronted with what any one of us would consider an arsenal of smoking guns, says, "Tut, tut. It’s only a few hundred million bucks. A drop in the trough, so to speak. Look at how much more Quebeckers like us now."

In times of crisis – read mismanagement – business leaders reach into their toolbox of euphemisms and "rationalize operations," fire lesser staff like there’s no tomorrow, "realize efficiencies," reduce service, "seek a level playing field," go hat in hand to government for a bailout, and my personal favourite "explore strategic alliances," look around for someone to bail their sorry butts out ASAP.

Which leads us, circuitously, back to this week’s riddle. Clearly, the similarity between Whistler preaching sustainability and a diddling padre quacking on about piety is this: Neither is standing on very firm moral footing and, in all probability, neither is sure of whence they speak.

There being no real reason to beat up any further on priests – an occupation whose trustworthiness rating is testing the depths of politicians, lawyers and telemarketers – let’s beat up on Whistler’s take on sustainability instead.

To be fair, this self-flagellation may be a bit premature. After all, we have, at great expense, hired consultants to determine what sustainability really means. In true Whistler fashion, we engaged the engagable among our populace, ruined what could have been a perfectly good afternoon for them, let them express their preferences among the consulting firms asked to bid on this gravytrain and then ignored them because their decision didn’t meet the thinly hidden agenda of Messrs. Davies and Milner, to wit, the consultants chosen by da people didn’t seem to give enough credence to the larger bidniz interests. Clever that.

But starting at the top, the highest level of abstraction so to speak, the idea of sustainability in a North American context – and most assuredly a Canadian context – is absurd. The way we live is unsustainable. Period. Our cars, our homes, our heating requirements, our perverse predilection to light up the night sky, our diets and the monstrous refrigerators we lard at home, our consumption choices, our sprawl, our dependence on the mercantile colonization of the Third World... all of it unsustainable. At least in any sense of the word embracing the concept of ongoing viability in perpetuity.


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