Here are four news items, from around the world and close to home, culled from press reports in the past few weeks. All of them illustrate undesirable results arising from a blind adherence to rules, without apparent application of sufficient rational thought.
In Belgium, a person wanted for questioning in the Paris terrorist attacks eludes police, because Belgian law prohibits police raids between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.
In Manitoba, a First Nations community has been without either road access or convenient access to potable water since the City of Winnipeg in 1919 expropriated land for its own use without regard to the impact on this community. For 96 years, federal, provincial, city and even other First Nations governments have thrown up one roadblock after another to prevent the rectification of the problem.
In Vancouver, a lottery winner has been unable to claim his winnings, because he doesn’t have photo ID. He can’t get photo ID because he hasn’t a copy of his birth certificate. He can’t get a copy of his birth certificate because he doesn’t have photo ID.
In Qualicum Beach, a property owner is prevented from building a suitable dwelling on a non-standard lot because of a failure to relax, with due regard for unusual circumstances, height and set-back rules that were designed with “standard” lot sizes in mind.
There are only 10 rules that are “carved in stone.”
All others should be considered as guidelines, to be rationally considered and varied as and when necessary for unique circumstances. We should expect our public workers and leaders to take such individual circumstances into consideration, rather than slavishly applying rules.
The blind application of rules could be done by robots.
We have a right to expect our hired workers and elected officials to do more than just that, and to apply sufficient thought to the situations they encounter in the course of their public service duties to know when the rules need to be modified to fit the situation.