Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
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Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 08.15.05
Quebec City


All together now, in a straight line…

Just when you think our happy little fonctionnaires deserve the gold medal for bureaucratic bilge, something pops up that makes you happy to be a Quebecer.

I know, the idea of me defending the swivel servants in this province is unsettling, to say the least.

After all, these are the people who wanted to shut down the Womens' Institute snack booth at the local fair not too long ago.

Apparently, they feared the good ladies were going to poison us all with an egg salad sandwich.

They're also the ones who were sure the dried salamis dangling in the deli windows in Montreal were a menace to society, despite the fact the air-curing process has been around since the Middle Ages.

Yes, I admit our own little minions of mindless regulation can be a pain. But they're nothing compared to their cousins in the European community.

Comparing your average François 'fill out the form' Leblanc at the Ministry of Transport with his European counterpart, Fritz 'it is forbidden' Schultz, is like comparing a Quebec pothole to an open pit mine in the Ruhr Valley.

For example:

A while back the Scots had to fight their biggest battle since Bannockburn to convince the Eurocrats that a kilt was part of the male national dress in Scotland and not just a woman's skirt.

There was also a regular hue and cry raised when the gnomes in Brussels decided, on their own, that the noise threshold for a work place would be 87 decibels.

Which is several drumbeats under your average rock band.

The image of the Rolling Stones all wearing earmuffs comes to mind.

Just the other day many of us had a little chuckle to hear that once again the Quebec government cartographers left out the Labrador border.

Let me tell you, that's nothing.

In their latest map the Brussels bureaucrats left out Wales entirely! Apparently there's nothing between Stratfordshire and Dublin but the Irish Sea.

But that insult to Owen Glendower aside, their latest is classic.

Not satisfied to place limits on exposure to artificial radiation to protect workers in heavy industry -- an admirable goal -- the pencil pushers have sent a directive to the European Parliament that includes those who work outside as well.

This has enraged everyone from construction workers, who frequently doff their shirts, to the barmaids at the outdoor beer gardens in Munich where a low-cut blouse is as traditional as a liter of lager.

Now, whether the tan ban lasts or not is yet to be seen.

But then again, this is the same bunch that has managed -- in the name of the new Europe -- to standardize everything from cucumbers to condoms.