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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

ADAM OLSEN: Layers of “this is how we have always done it” insulates us from the peril of having to think about "how we can do it better?" Or even, "who do we serve?"

This old stone building resists change. The physical manifestation of government, the people's house on Belleville St. in Victoria, is a metaphor.

The emergence of three Greens is shocking on its own. Three MLA's negotiating a pathway through a tied house, is exceptionally unusual. The seat count in this place has not been so close in decades.

A majority here is the norm. And, it provides comfort for the status quo to prevail. Layers of "this is how we have always done it" insulates us from the peril of having to think about "how we can do it better?" Or even, "who do we serve?"

Perhaps, that is why my first few months in this place was so chaotic. Everyone speculating about how unstable it is. Not because it is any less stable, none of us love elections, but because it was unusual, uncomfortable, and different.

Far too much resistance

There is so much resistance holding us back ... take ride-hailing as one example.

Both sides of the British Columbia political establishment, (because up until recently we have accepted that there are only two sides to any debate in this province) blocked ride-hailing. No doubt, we saw how the disruption can cause other social, economic and environmental issues. But, none of those are reasons to entirely block ride-hailing.

This is how the bread has been buttered. It is what we know, and it's worked well for electing the establishment. Thus, change is resisted. And, all sorts of red herring arguments are constructed to preserve business-as-usual.

So, what is the result of our rigidity? It permits poor practices to persist. And, it closes minds to the potential of adopting good, or best, practices that other jurisdictions have embraced, and we can use to improve.

We need to be more flexible, and more agile. We need to ask, and answer, the question about who we serve. Is it our own political career? The political banner we fly? Or, the public interest?

Starbucks is one minor tweak from removing the barista from the Americano. McDonald's is encouraging touch screen ordering, rather than hiring and training our kids how to interact professionally with humans and deliver exceptional customer service like they did for me when I was fifteen. 

The result of this is we are losing.

We are losing because we have let this disruption, removing the human face from service, go ahead of a healthy conversation about the cost to society of automation, and how we make up for the challenges this is causing us.

Any thoughts on this?

Adam Olsen is the Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia for Saanich North and the Islands

Born in Victoria, BC in 1976, Adam has lived, worked and played his entire life on the Saanich Peninsula. 

He is a member of Tsartlip First Nation (W̱JOȽEȽP), where he and his wife, Emily, are raising their two children, Silas and Ella

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