As is often the way I never seem to make posts here until the day before I’m about to leave on a long trip and have lots of prep work to get done before leaving. I’m looking for a distraction from domestic chores I guess. Fortunately I can always rely on the Conservative Party for this or in this case, there Progressive Conservatives, by way of New Brunswick. There’s the smell of election in the wind in my home province and it’s already being overwhelmed by the reek of pandering. It’s a musky, adrenal scent and in this case it’s being wafted at those NBer’s (of voting age in this case) who rant about hell and handbaskets, how it was done in their day and how the young people need to be brought in line. To that end the PC’s party leader David Alward has come up with a solution. Mandatory Volunteering. Specifically -
Alward also said he’d make it mandatory for students to accumulate a certain number of community volunteering hours before receiving a high school diploma.
“We certainly want to ensure that our young people have the math and the literacy skills they’re going to need long term,” he said. “We also want them to build the skills of being strong citizens and understand the importance of community involvement and that a strong community leads to a strong New Brunswick.”
Now, I’ve spent my adult life in the Canadian Forces so I have a more than passing familiarity with this concept (take note: if you ever decide to sign up yourself, under no circumstances put up your hand when the Sergeant asks “Who wants to get their military drivers licence?” It’ll always involve immediate unpleasantness and no driving at all) and I can see a couple of problems with this. First and foremost is that the correct, non-weaselword name for this is known more generally as Conscription, never a popular concept and which leads to another problem. Just how much use will the frequently unwilling be to the worthy causes that they’re assigned to? I’ve done volunteer work myself where I was interested in the task and happy to help as have countless others. I’ve also seen the quality of work that gets done by the forced and it’s invariably not high and creates lots patch-up work for the rest of the staff. The other problem is that NB is a largely rural and constantly cash-strapped province. For a lot of High School students looking to get that mandatory 100 hour requirement for graduation finding a place to volunteer is going to be logistical nightmare. Are the PC’s willing to spring for, at a minimum, transportation costs or do they see that as another aspect of volunteering ? For that matter are they willing to put in the effort to find a cause for students to labour at if there are none locally available. Being conservatives they’ll no doubt be willing to determine which causes they deem to be worthy so maybe there’ll be some convenient cross-over in this area.
Willing volunteering to help where it’s needed is a good and noble thing. It can make a person feel more involved in their community and bring the knowledge that there is something outside of yourself that is deserving of your efforts. This is what Alward says he’s aiming at with this policy. He may even believe it. We should note though that very few of the students this will affect are of voting age and likely wouldn’t vote conservative if they could. They’re safe to offend. I’m pretty sure that the primary goal here is to garner support from those voting NBer’s who wish things were like they were in the old days and want those damned kids out of the house.